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 the off-road tracks that snake between Longido to Lengai in Tanzania. They’ve probably never seen Morocco’s earthen village in Ait Benhaddou. African cycling tours are certainly a different gear in terms of unique 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 cities, along volcanic tracks and across sandy deserts – all on two wheels. These are cycling tours, but not as you know them…
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).
Sahara Desert, Morocco
After a long riding day, you'll have the chance to swap your bike for a camel and head into the dunes of the Sahara Desert at sunset for an overnight stay. With dunes rising up to 150 metres and sweeping 50 kilometres north to south, you'll be glad you are no longer on two-wheels! These stunning dunes are the home of the mysterious Berber Nomads, so enjoy the views of their land, especially as the evening light sets off the colours. Tonight you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Travel across dry open plains with the Kerimasi, Gelai and Kitumbeine mountains in the distance as well as seven remarkable volcanos, the jewel being the spectacular ‘Ol Doinyo Lengai’, which means ‘Mountain of God' in the Maasai language. Close to your remote campsite is the shallow, salty Lake Natron. Often coloured bright pink or deep red due to algae, it is a mecca for the flamingo. Reaching temperatures above 40°C and with a similar acidity to ammonia, this is not a place to swim, but the view is certainly an interesting one.