The Blog


Egypt! Excited to exit

December 22, 2011

21 December 2011

Wow, we're here. Nine months of travelling. 11500Kms cycled. Memories that will last a lifetime.

I can remember the 22nd of March as if it were yesterday, and now today I sit on the end of the continent typing this blog. Its been one helluva ride. But before I get all sentimental lets take a look at our experience in country number ten, Egypt!

We left Aswan and basically followed the Nile on its course north to Cairo. In between we stayed in several towns, both small and large, and had experiences both good and bad.

Egyptian Hospitality

Leaving Aswan I really hated Egypt, or rather the modern day Egyptians. Let me recount a little experiment I tried whilst in Aswan: After noticing that many Egyptians assumed I was local, up until I spoke that is, I decided not to speak at all when buying stuff from a shop. And so I went to shop down the road, picked up a Mega ice cream (which up until that point we thought was a standard price of EP5), paid the man EP5 and left. After leaving I heard the shopkeeper say something to me in Arabic, I turned around and realised that he wanted to give me change – turns out the Egyptian price for Mega ice creams is EP4! The very next day I returned to shop to buy another ice cream, only this time I came with my loaded bicycle (we were on our way out of Aswan), and this time she shopkeeper tried to charge me EP!0 and insisted that I was wrong in saying it was EP4 – I swore him, took my money and left. And this basically been our experience with many Egyptian shopkeepers. In fact, we've discovered that they even have Arabic and English menus with the Arabic prices a lot cheaper than the English menu ones! We've worked out how to read Arabic numbers and now play the game a little smarter with these thieves.

                                                 Cairo: Shopping was often an exhausting process

But then Egypt isn't all bad, it does have its amazing history that surrounds you as pass by along the Nile. The modern day Egyptian is indeed most fortunate and should be very grateful to their countrymen who built the pyramids, temples, and tombs – if it weren't for these attractions I doubt many tourists would visit a country where hospitality is still a concept that many have yet to learn.

                                                Edfu Temple - breathtaking in its size

Damn, I was trying not to be negative, but it really is hard. Ok, we did meet a few really good people. We found the Nubian communities (southern Egypt) to be friendly and extremely hospitable. We also made friend in a really good guy called Mohammed Samy. We first met Mohammed on the ferry from Wadi Halfa to Aswan, he's an Egyptian who hails from Alexandria. We ended up visiting him in Alexandria where we were hosted by Mohammed and his mother – who spoilt us fantastic food. In fact Alexandria as a whole was a great town to visit and for the first time we felt that shopkeepers weren't trying to rip us off.

Nubian Hosts                                                                 Alexandria: Mohamed and his mum

Anyway, I'm losing myself here. Back to the trip. We left Aswan and travelled north along the tarred road hugging the nile. It really was good cycling with some really special scenery, for example, on several occasions we passed by mountains with stunning man made caves that must date back thousands of years. It was a pity that we didn't get a chance to visit these caves as more often than not we had a police escort! After Aswan our next big town was Luxor – a town full of history with the breathtaking temples of Karnak and Luxor, the lane of sphinxes linking the two temples, and of course the many other including the Valley of Kings on the west bank. Fortunately we found a cheap good hotel in the not so tourist part of Luxor, and had a great couple days in this little town.


                                                 In Luxor - In front of the Karnak Temple

From Luxor out next big stop was Asyut – not much to do in this town but given that we were doing great time and kilometers (thanks to the police escorts) we decided to stay for a few days in Asyut and did nothing more than eat pizza (at a little takeaway which has the best pizzas in the world!), ice cream, and sit on the internet. It was a nice break from the cops.


The Egyptian Police

Its hard to place judgement on the police. Their insistence on escorting us was usually annoying and unwelcome. But then, it couldn't have been too much for them either having to drive at 15kph behind three cyclists! There were times where they were extremely good to us, once even letting us sleep in a cell and getting us supper, and there were times when all they wanted to do was get us out of their district. We were once moved three times at night, they were times when they lied to us and forced us to keep cycling after dark, and then there were times when they gave us tea and a place to rest. And of course, we weren't killed by crazy extremist so maybe they were useful.

Cairo: Night cycling                                                       Cairo: Khalili Bazaar Mosque

The End

A few days after Asyut, we arrived in Cairo. Eight and half months, 11 500kms, 10 countries... and on Monday morning, the 12th December 2011, we cycled into Cairo. First stop was the South African Embassy (the embassy is in the southern part of Cairo and so it made logistical sense to visit them first) – oh how good it was to hear South African voices again. Being our last embassy visit (we tried to visit the SA Embassy in the countries we'd been through), it was a bit of a surprise when we were told that the Ambassador would see us. And so we ended up having juice with the Ambassador. Our embassies abroad are just another example of what a great country we come from.

                                                With Ambassador Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya in Cairo

We left the embassy with lifted spirits and made headed straight for the pyramids. Not being allowed to take the bicycles into the pyramids area was a bit disappointing, so instead we hung out in the car park and took loads of photos with the great Khufu Pyramid in the background (the largest of the three famous pyramids in Giza).

                                                Excitement outside the pyramids

What's next

The real world unfortunately. As I finish this blog its Wednesday, the 21st December 2011, tomorrow will mark nine months since leaving Cape Town on that cloudy day in March. What then seemed like an enormous task is now over. We've all had a really great experience, one that probably has changed our lives, and hopefully has made us made us better people. The latest figures put the Hear Us donations at just over three hundred thousand rand. Not much in the greater scheme of things but still hopefully the start of something that will make a difference in the lives of our fellow human beings.

Thank you

A great big thank you to every one of you. There's so many people to thank: friends, family, donors, strangers who took us in, new friends who shared homes and lives with us, supporters, Fine Young Africans (who sponsored our successful summit up Kilimanjaro), Nature Fresh (who kept us supplied with herbal meds throughout our trip), the embassy officials who genuinely cared, the countless smiling faces and waving hands of the locals who make a travel across Africa a truly memorable experience, the government officials who helped us through and encouraged us in every country (contrary to what many people expected, we weren't asked for a and didn't pay a single bribe), the media who've given us coverage throughout the way, the facebook messages, the guest entries on the website, the sms's, emails, and phone calls, and even those who thought we wouldn't make it.


Its been one helluva ride!



Simply Sudan

December 1, 2011

What an underestimated country – beautiful desert landscape, magnificent sunsets then night skies and roadside cafés bubbling with friendly, humble and generous folk.
Exiting  Ethiopia was somewhat of a relief; we were at breaking point after dealing with stone throwing kids, jippo guts and constant mountain passes..

Last of the mountain passes in Ethiopia

Border crossing was a breeze, similar to all other countries on the journey, however the Ethiopian / Sudanese border is poorly signposte...

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Addis to Sudan:

November 19, 2011

With the help of the Sudanese Ambassador in South Africa we got a 2 month tourist visa in Addis, whereas normally only a 2 week visa is available. There was some palaver and stress but everything worked out in the end. After 10 days in Addis I'm still unsure if I like the city or not and was glad to finally be on the move again as we headed out to Bahir Dar, source of the Blue Nile.

On the 3rd day out of Addis we hit the Blue Nile gorge, a shear 1300m drop from the plateau and another 1100m ri...

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From the Desert to the Highlands, hello Ethiopia!

October 25, 2011
 19 October 2011

Howzit! I write this not from a stunning beach, but a crumby “hotel” in Addis. The past two weeks have been rather interesting, and pleasantly surprising.

Lets start off with the end of the Kenyan leg, Marsabit to Moyale. You might have heard stories of terrible road conditions, or perhaps, banditry as the reason for us taking a truck on the last 250 odd kilometres in Moyale. Both partially true. The road is no doubt atrocious, and cycling across it would have been tou...

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Marangu to Marsabit

October 18, 2011

7000km and country number 7 (Kenya)

With our quads still feeling the deep burn from our Kilimanjaro hike, we  crossing into Kenya back on the road and climbing into Kenya.  Lodging close to the border at what we thought was affordable accommodation we realised the next day it was probably for good times :)                                     

                                               Border crossing into Kenya

Border crossing into Kenya was a breeze with friendly officials and a 1 month ...
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Part 2 of 2: The Kilimanjaro ascent

October 4, 2011
We got back to the Marangu Hotel on Friday 2nd and eagerly awaited the arrival of Donna (my girlfriend), Ashley (Ria's cousin's husband) and Kenneth (Ashley's friend). With the ascension team finally assembled we spent a day at the hotel resting and getting kitted out. Because we are cycling we were unable to bring any gear from home and all our gear was hired through the hotel. Ria managed to acquire a clown's top which we dubbed the 'happy jacket' as whoever looked at the yellow, red and bl...

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Coast to Kili: Part 1 of 2

September 22, 2011

This blog is written in 2 parts. The 1st is the trip from Pangani to Marangu (at the base of Kilimanjaro) and covers our safari. Part 2 is the longer and more detailed account of the Kilimanjaro ascent and will follow in a few days.

We left Pangani well rested and ready to tackle Kilimanjaro. We passed through sisil plantations and camped in one of these when it got too late. These tough, spiky plants, when not puncturing Imraan's hands with its steel tips are, are harvested for ...

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Chappatis and Chai with the Maasai

September 14, 2011
21 August 2011

Hey Raffikki!

Yet again I find myself sitting on the shores of another stunning beach, this time in a place called Pangani, a relatively quiet little town north of Dar es Salam. Yesterday we left the island of Zanzibar in style, but more about that later.

We arrived in the town of Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, the 10th of August. With the veterinary volunteer work done with, we decided to stay in the capital city for just a couple days. In this time all three of us discovered cracks...
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Malawi Border to Dar Es Salaam

August 9, 2011

Ham Jambo  - Greetings from Tanzania

Its been just over 4 months since we set off on our epic journey, and we loving every moment.  We haven’t encountered a single negative experience and have no regrets; with each day bringing new challenges and rewards we just growing in strength and character.

To date we have cycled 6285km and our ascending altitude is 48112m.

Hello Tanzania ( country number 6) known as the birthplace of humankind Tanzania has an area of 943000 square km and a populat...

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Lilongwe to Tanzania

August 4, 2011
And so the journey continues forward, ever northward.

                                                           Imraan performing a castration in Lilongwe

From Lilongwe, an internal combustion engine took us East back to the lake shore town of Senga Bay and to our bicycles which were safely tucked away at 'Cool Runnings', a lovely backpackers run by Sam. Transportation at this point in time in Malawi is quite a contentious subject and highlights ...

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