About the Tour
...and how it all startedOriginally, we had quite different travel plans, but after agreeing to some concessions ("Africa without bicycle" and "to Australia by bike" became "Africa by bicycle"), we decided to go on this journey together.
Michael was the one who wanted to cycle from Germany to Australia. He was looking for a travel companion in the internet, while Silke was searching for someone who would travel to Africa with her using any means of transport. Any means - but not necessarily a bicycle. We exchanged some e-mails which were followed by the first phone call. Quickly we agreed on Africa, because Michael wanted to go via Africa anyway. So only the matter of transportation had to be discussed.
Bicycle? Tandem? Donkey?
we go by bicycle, it has to be a tandem. And I sit in the back."
The idea of a "together-thing" was born.
So we designed the blueprint for a "thing" consisting of 2 bicycles going side-by-side, which would allow to have a huge common rack, as well as providing the possibility for one of us to pedal a bit less on a bad day. But we realised quickly, that this won't work - how should we go on African dirt-roads with such an inflexible bulky vehicle when one of us gets stuck in the sand or disappears in a big pothole? And how should we make clear that we cannot give way to a car or truck on a busy motorway? These were not the only obstacles, and so we eagerly searched for better alternatives.
In the following days and weeks several means of transportation were discussed:
"Let's walk." "And the luggage? I don't want to carry my stuff on my back all the time." "Hmmm, what about a trailer?" "No, pulling a trailer by hand is not good for the back either." "We would have to design a kind of harness to pull it."
Not too bad, but if we had a trailer and gear, we could also harness a donkey instead of ourselves. We developed this idea further and further until we ended up with a fully equipped covered wagon which would also carry our bicycles. But our inquiries soon showed, that it is not that easy to travel from Germany to South Africa with a donkey: the animal would need lots of vaccinations and special food (a link for those who are interested) - and we would need enourmous patience to drag the donkey over thousands of kilometres.
Since we considered any engine powered vehicle as too fast, too noisy and too expensive and therefore not suitable for us: welcome to the beginning!
O.k., a bicycle really has a lot of advantages... after all, Silke has been convinced and she will probably be the first to cycle from Germany to Cape Town in a standing position because she won't be able to sit on her saddle for more than 3 kilometers. Ok, to be serious, we are both looking forward to cover most of the route with the power of our own legs, to be able to stop whenever we want to and not to be squeezed into some tin can on four wheels, being exposed to all weathers - even if we will not always enjoy this.
And which route are we going to take?
We have planned to travel on the following route:From Germany...
Our tour will start in Norderstedt, a city close to Hamburg in Northern Germany. After a short side-trip to Lübeck (Silkes hometown) we will follow the river Elbe, passing Dresden and cycle into the Czech Republic....via Eastern Europe... ...and the Middle East...
The journey continues via Prague to Vienna, then into Slovakia and across the Carpathian Mountains into Ukraine. Here we are going to follow another river, the Dnistr which will lead us through Moldova to the Black Sea. After cycling the coastline of Romania and Bulgaria we will enter Turkey, from where we will pedal on to Syria and Jordan.... to Cairo...
A ferry will bring us across the Gulf of Aqaba to Egypt. Crossing the Sinai peninsula we will reach Cairo. From there on the Nile will be our companion for the next 3,000 kilometers. Leaving the desert of Sudan behind us we will pedal (with much groaning...) into the highlands of Ethiopia....and then: always southward!
Further on through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi to Mozambique. We will decide en route if we want to make detours to some other countries. But surely we will travel to Zimbabwe to visit Montgomery Heights, Silkes second home.The children's home "Montgomery Heights"
There we will probably stay and help for a while, but we are planning to explore the country itself, too. Additionally, we hope to be able to deliver some donations (read more about our charity fund-raising "Make a difference" here).
Destination: Cape Town
Finally we will head to South Africa and presumably along the Garden Route to Cape Town, the destination of our tour.
And then? What's next?
No idea!!! We have planned to be on the road for approximately 2 years and that should leave us with enough time to think about our future. If we still talk to each other we might return to Germany together and if so, we'll have to decide how. At the moment we find it hard to imagine to fly back in 10 hours while it took us 2 years to get there.
It would be a dream to cycle home along Africa's west coast. On the other hand... Asia, Australia etc. are all waiting to be explored. Or shall we hop onto a boat to South America? Or maybe we are fed up with cycling, settle down somewhere and open a hostel for cyclists and backpackers - offering homemade bread, pretzels and other typical German specialities. Who knows???
Our planned route
(if you are not eagle-eyed: please click on the map)