England to Africa Bike Tour – Cycling from England to South Africa

In 2006, I began an amazing trip cycling from England to Africa. This 10 month adventure took me through countries such, as Syria, Sudan and Tanzania, as I cycled across Europe, the Middle East and then East Africa. During this time, I had some incredible experiences, met countless friendly people, and cycled by the odd elephant and giraffe. Read all about it here…

Dave Briggs cycling from England to South Africa

Cycling from England to Africa

Back in 2006, although Dave's Travel Pages was online, travel blogging was really still in its infancy. I updated every week or so as I was cycling England to South Africa, but it was written more with family and friends in mind.

As such, my travelogues (as I called them then), have become buried a little bit in this site. They are sometimes hard even for me to find, and I know where they are!

With that in mind, I decided to write a new summary article of my time spent cycling England to South Africa. Here, I have put links to all the travelogue updates for that trip, along with a brief description of each one underneath.

The entries are raw and unpolished, often typed out in my tent at night if I happened to find power or WiFi somewhere.

I really regret not taking more photos when I was bike touring in Africa. Don't make the same mistake I did if riding in Africa is in your travel plans – take plenty of photos and video!

Some guys in the bush I met when cycling England to South Africa

2022 Reflections on the Africa Bike Trips

As I look back on this England to Africa bike tour in 2022, I reflect a little on how the world has changed.

Syria, one of the most hospitable places I have ever cycled through is now in flames. Sudan and Ethiopia have problems. It makes cycling North to South (or the other way around) in Africa more problematic. You should probably expect to get flights or buses between some countries depending on the prevailing situation.

We've also experienced a year of a global pandemic which has restricted travel, and no doubt will affect more vulnerable populations in the long term economically for years to come.

On the positive side, access to information is easier since I was cycling Africa. When I set out, I wasn't really aware of many people who had done such a journey – Not because no one else had done it, but simply because there was nowhere to find information about it.

Now, dozens if not hundreds more cyclists have completed the same route on two wheels from the UK to Cape Town. More people still have cycled the Cairo to Cape Town route through the east side of the African continent.

Dave Briggs cycling in Sudan

So, does this mean the blogs about my Africa cycling trip and the information you find there is out of date?

No, I think this does still hold some relevance for other people planning a similar England to Africa bike tour. Read for yourself and see!

You can always contact me at dave@davestravelpages.com if you have any questions!

East Africa Bikepacking

Before I list out all my blog updates from my first trip cycling in Africa, here's a few dedicated posts you might find useful for putting together a gear list, making sure you have the right spare parts, and preparing your itinerary.

Cycling England to Africa – Europe

The following blog posts cover the European section of my England to Africa bike tour.

Bike Touring in England

Starting the trip from my own doorstep (well, my brothers doorstep to be exact), I spent the first few days getting used to the bike with load.

Touring Bicycle from England to South Africa

In hindsight, I should probably have gone out for a couple of test cycles long before, and at least made sure my bicycle pump worked!

Read more here: Travelogue 1 – Cycling from Northampton to Dover

Bike Touring in France

For the first time in my life, I was cycling on the right side of the road (well, the wrong side, but you know what I mean). A poignant moment as I paused for a while outside of a War Cemetery marking the dead of Vimy Ridge.

The Vimy Ridge War Cemetery

Travelogue 2 – Cycling from Calais to Charleville

Travelogue 3 – Cycling from Charleville Nezziers to Strasbourg

I found out the hard way that in the smaller French towns, you can't seem to buy anything other than flowers on a Sunday. Weird occurrence – cycled past two police officers zipping up a body in a body bag.

Travelogue 4 – Cycling from Strasbourg to Blaustein

This section of my journey cycling England to South Africa saw me discover some cycle paths more by accident than design. It also took me to Donnaueschingen which is the official start of the River Danube cycle way, a route I would follow through much of Europe.

Bike Touring in Germany and Austria

Travelogue 5 – Cycling from Blaustein to Schonau

I had a guide book for this cycling route, which proved to be useful for the trip, and I highly recommend the Cicerone Danube Cycle Way for other people thinking of cycling along a similar path. I found Germany to be a really pleasant country to cycle through, and after a few days, found myself in Austria.

Bike Touring in Slovakia and Hungary

Travelogue 6 – Cycling from Schonau to Budapest

On the border into Slovakia, I ended up helping another group of cyclists cross over (like I knew what I was doing!), before heading into Brataslava. From there, it was just another days ride to the border with Hungary. A very friendly cyclist guided me through one city going totally out of his way. An act of solidarity that transcends language barriers.

Parliament building in Budapest

Travelogue 7 – Cycling from Budapest to Carta

Nowadays, I would choose quieter roads, and even dirt tracks to get out into the countryside and avoid traffic. As I was on a bit of a schedule dictated by a small budget though, I had little choice but to stick with busier roads.

What I gained in the directness of route was counteracted by heavy traffic though. Once I left Hungary, there was a notable change as I entered Romania, a country that was at the time receiving investment in the way of road infrastructure by the European Union.

Bike Touring in Romania

Travelogue 8 – Cycling from Carta to Madara

The other downside to sticking to main roads, is that when it is possible to wild camp, it is often not in the most desirable of places! Onward I continued through Romania, which again is a country I would like to have spent more time in. In Bucherest I met an old friend who had travelled over, and who I would also meet up with in Istanbul.

Bike Touring in Turkey

Travelogue 9 – Cycling from Madara to Istanbul

Leaving Romania and entering Turkey definitely felt like stepping from west to east, although in a way, from Hungary onward, Europe was always being slowly left behind. It has to be said, that there are very few cities in the world as absolutely crazy to cycle into the centre of than Istanbul! Only Cairo came close as I was cycling England to South Africa.

Travelogue 10 – Time off in Istanbul

I took some time off in Istanbul, to catch my breath, regain some energy, have a look around, and meet up with a couple of people. One of those was my brother Steve, who flew over for a pint or two… very nice of him indeed!

Spending time sightseeing in Istanbul

Travelogue 11 – Cycling from Istanbul to Ankara

On leaving Istanbul, I cycled for a while with a nice German guy called Rainhard (probably spelt completely wrong). The one interesting addition to his bicycle setup was a wire basket. It looked crap, but in all honesty, was probably more practical than a handlebar bag. I just can't quite bring myself to fit one at the moment!

Travelogue 12 – Cycling from Ankara to Goreme

You always meet someone doing a trip that you consider slightly ore “out there” than your own. During this section, I met a French couple who were walking from France to Bethlehem. It kind of put cycling England to South Africa in the shade a little. However, I did feel sorry for them as their feet were, to put it mildly, in complete shit state.

Goreme in Turkey

Travelogue 13 – Cycling from Goreme to Antakya

I spent a week off the bike as I explored the area around Goreme, which is full of natural and man made wonders. On leaving, I continued my journey through Turkey, which is a wonderful country to cycle through. Another one that I added to my “must visit again on a bike list”!

Cycling England to Africa – The Middle East

This section covers the bike tour in the Middle Eastern countries.

Bike Touring in Syria

Travelogue 14 – Cycling from Antakya to Damascus

All politics aside, I wonder how many years or decades it will be until people can cycle safely through Syria once more? Many of the towns and cities I cycled through, such as Aleppo, have been virtually reduced to rubble during the recent civil war that occurred after i finished cycling England to South Africa.

Bike Touring in Jordan

Travelogue 15 – Cycling from Damascus to Petra

More acts of generosity both in Syria and in Jordan after I crossed the border made the middle east a very welcoming place for me. I visited the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, and then cycled through to Petra.

Travelogue 16 – Cycling from Petra to Suez

The archaeological site of Petra was a truly amazing place to visit, and for others, I strongly suggest arriving before the tourist buses arrive if possible leaving . I spent two days walking around it. A caught a ferry over to Egypt, which was a somewhat complicated process in turns of sorting paperwork out. I also bumped into the Dragoman overland tour here, and our paths would leap frog until Sudan many miles down the road.

England to Africa Bike Tour – Cycling in Africa

These blog posts cover the last stages of my England to Africa bike tour, as I cycled through East Africa.

Bike Touring in Egypt

Travelogue 17 – Cycling from Suez to Cairo

Cycled through Egypt and saw some pyramids… as you do.

sphinx and pyramid



Zosers Pyramid

Travelogue 18 – Cycling from Cairo to Luxor

From this point on through Egypt, having an armed escort accompany me in pickup trucks as I cycled along was a regular occurrence. it's a strange old life cycling England to South Africa.

Bike Touring in Sudan

Travelogue 19 – Cycling from Luxor to Khartoum

It has to be said, that I was really looking forwards to this section of the trip cycling England to South Africa. Cycling through Sudan would be a real test, and so it turned out. the effort put on though was more than rewarded by the friendly, welcoming people and the sense of achievement at reaching Khartoum after riding through deserts.


Travelogue 20 – Cycling from Khartoum to Gondar

After a little R and R at the Blue Nile Sailing Club, it was time to get back on the bike once more. Along the way, I experienced amazing generosity from the friendly, curious locals.

Bike Touring in Ethiopia

Travelogue 21 – Cycling from Gondar to Addis Ababa

Now, I know it might not be PC to say it, but I hated Ethiopia. And it was all because of the people there. It was such a massive contrast after leaving the hospitable Muslim countries, that in the end, i couldn't wait to get out of Ethiopia.

Bike Touring in Kenya

Travelogue 22 – Cycling from Addis Ababa to Nairobi

The border section between Ethiopia and Kenya was considered a little unsafe at the time, and so i took a cattle truck a few hundred miles southwards until I reached a safer region. It was probably the worst ride I have ever had in  my life, being thrown around like a rag doll in the back of a massive truck, which was later filled up with goats!

Bike Touring in Tanzania

Travelogue 23 – Cycling from Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam

After resting at Jungle junction in Nairobi, I headed out once more. Sourcing bicycle parts was becoming a real issue, and so I arranged to have some shipped over from the UK to Dar Es Salaam. in the mean time, I was plagued by punctures as my tyres and inner tubes were becoming a bit of a liability.

Travelogue 24 – Time off in Dar Es Salaam

I spent 10 days in Dar Es Salaam awaiting a parcel from the UK, which would have some much needed bicycle spares. If ever there was a lesson to be learned in using 26 inch wheels over 700c wheels for bicycle touring, then this was it!

Travelogue 25 – Cycling from Dar Es Salaam to Mbeya

At long last, I got to cycle out of Dar Es Salaam! One day I cycled over a snake, one day I cycled alongside a herd of giraffes and let a family of elephants cross the road. Same old same old cycling England to South Africa!


Bike Touring in Malawi

Travelogue 26 – Cycling from Mbeya to Lilongwe

This travelogue update starts at the Tanzania border as I was crossing into Malawi. I found a lovely place to stay by the lake, which I wish even now, I had spent longer at. Another regret, is that I was too slow to take a photo of a local cycling down the road with a live goat strapped to the back of his bicycle.

Bike Touring in Zambia

Travelogue 27 – Cycling from Lilongwe to Lusaka

Cycling through the last section of Malawi, a country which I thoroughly enjoyed, I then entered Zambia. Random bicycle malfunction when both pedals fell off simultaneously.

Travelogue 28 – Cycling from Lusaka to Livingstone

I bumped into the Tour de Afrique during this portion of my trip cycling England to South Africa. This is an organised overland tour, which enables people to do a supported tour of the continent in the company of others. For me, it meant a few free meals and cold drinks!

Bike Touring in Botswana

Travelogue 29 – Cycling from Livingstone to Gaborone

There was only a little bit more of Zambia to cycle through as I crossed into Botswana, and I was amazed to see some elephants crossing the road in front of me. They are quite big up close!

I was also keeping pace with the Tour de Afrique for a while, and one night, shared a campsite with them. Once we went on our separate ways, I also had a somewhat raucous night out, of which the only thing I remember, was an American girl weighing her breast in a scale on a bar somewhere. Don't ask!

Bike Touring in South Africa

Travelogue 30 – Cycling from Gaborone to Springbok

One memory of this section of the cycling trip, was the frustration I felt at trying to book a flight online. This has certainly become a lot easier over the years! Most of the actual cycling during this section was done through South Africa, which included some quite big days in terms of kilometres.

Travelogue 31 – Cycling from Springbok to Cape Town

Nursing the bike towards Cape Town over the last few hundred miles, it was time to reflect a little over the previous 10 months, as well as looking towards the future for when the trip was finally over.

Cycling England to South Africa – Afterthoughts

Cycling from England to South Africa

Looking back on this cycling trip now, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to undertake such a wonderful journey.

Some countries, such as Syria, will be off limits to even the most adventurous of cyclists for many years to come, and they will be changed beyond recognition.

From all reports, the ancient city of Aleppo which I spent some time in is all but rubble now, and of course, civil war will change the peoples attitudes towards each other and to those from other countries.

A massive shame, as it was one of the places I enjoyed the most as I cycled through. Other countries, such as Malawi, would be interesting to visit again in a few years time, to see if there are any signs of economic development.

Cycle Touring UK to Cape Town Conclusion

On a personal level, I took a lot away from the trip. A sense of self-reliance in trying circumstances, accomplishment at a cycling trip completed, and the knowledge that most people around the world are friendly folk, often bemused at a strange cyclist pedalling by with a loaded bike!

It also made me realise that long distance bicycle tours are what I was made to do, and it wasn't long until I was planning my next adventure cycling Alaska to Argentina.

Cycling Africa FAQ

People who plan to ride their bikes in Africa often have questions such as these:

Is it safe to cycle through Africa?

One of the myths that people have about cycling in Africa is that it is a dangerous place. In my personal experience, I thought it was a fun continent to cycle through, and local people in the rural areas of most countries will find cyclists to be a curiosity.

How long does it take to cycle across Africa?

It depends which direction you are traveling and what type of cyclists you are. Typically, East Africa Cairo to Cape Town can be cycled in 9 months or less if you're in a hurry. Take longer though, and enjoy the ride!

Next read: Cycling across Europe


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