When people picture lycra-clad cyclists climbing epic switchbacks or zooming down scenic coastal roads, Africa doesn’t usually figure. But those people have probably never heard of South Africa’s Garden Route, or the winelands of Stellenbosch. They’ve probably never seen Morocco’s Ait Benhaddou or studied the off-road tracks that snake between Longido to Lengai in Tanzania. African cycling tours are certainly a different gear in terms of exotic adventure, and the perfect combo for those who like their wildlife safari with an added dash of exercise. We’ll lead you through game parks and vineyards, along soaring cliff tracks and across sandy deserts – all on two wheels. These are cycling tours, but not as you know them…
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Our cycling tours in Africa
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The ride into Longido is a smooth downhill stretch that skirts the boundaries of the Mount Longido Forest Reserve, but what makes this little village really special is the Maasai tribesmen that call it home. Chat with some of the local farmers, visit a boma (traditional Maasai houses) and learn a bit about the area, then strap on the hiking boots and tackle some of the trails that crisscross the flanks of Mount Longido. For those visiting on Wednesdays there’s the added bonus of a Maasai cattle market (a spectacle you won’t forget in a hurry). And the following day an extra treat: off-road cycling on isolated trails and some of the best views going around.
Marrakech and Casablanca certainly have their charms, but those who have been to Morocco before know that Chefchaouen is really where it’s at. The ‘Blue City’ is set above a wide valley, beneath the watchful eye of the stunning Rif Mountains. And getting there is half the fun: our cycling tour follows the winding coastal road from the little seaside town of Tetouan. You’ve got the sparkling Med on one side and steep cliffs on the other, and we know the perfect cove for an idyllic picnic lunch. The climb into Chefchaouen is possible on the bikes, but we find it’s easier to just hop in the support vehicle and enjoy the view. You’ll know you’ve made it when you see the setting sun light up Chefchaouen’s blue and whitewashed houses.
Rift Valley, Tanzania
The descent into the Rift Valley belongs on any serious cyclist’s Bucket List. It’s a winding downhill stretch (no pedalling required) along the Rift Valley Escarpment as it falls towards the village of Mto wa Mbu. The Valley itself rolls out on one side, and all you have to worry about is controlling your speed and taking in the epic views. Not a bad introduction to the Cradle of Humanity. When you reach the bottom, there’s time to explore Mto wa Mbu and check out the local markets. The locals here are some of the friendliest we’ve found, and we always end the day with a meal of mshikaki (grilled marinated beef), barbecued corn and ugali (cornmeal porridge).
Stellenbosch, South Africa
One of the world’s truly great wine regions, but strangely still a mystery to a lot of overseas visitors. Stellenbosch is classic old-school Cape: stately manor houses, boutique vineyards, Georgian architecture and oak-lined thoroughfares. Our South Africa cycling tour heads deep into the winelands for a full day of cellar door tasting and a truly stunning ride. Between each vineyard is a sun-dappled mix of quiet country lanes, private farm roads and mountain views around every corner. The pace is leisurely (cellar doors and switchbacks don’t really go hand in hand) and the wine superb. The perfect intro to South African viticulture.
Hermanus, South Africa
From June to December each year, migrating Southern Right whales glide into Walker Bay and set up camp, so to speak, in the booming coastal town of Hermanus. It’s made the once sleepy fishing village the world’s premier spot for land-based whale watching. Bar none. We’ll approach the town on bikes, naturally, descending through the mountain passes near the Klein River Lagoon until we hit the deep blue of the South Atlantic Ocean. When we’ve settled in Hermanus, it’s a choice between epic whale watching tours or joining the local bike club for their Saturday Morning ride. Decisions, decisions…