The Tour d’Afrique 2011 kicks off today in Cairo, Egypt.

It was this time three years ago that we started our transformation from working class career oriented professionals to adventurers and full time travel bloggers.

It started out as a New Years Resolution on the eve of 2008.  We were feeling blue after 2 years of working too hard and traveling too little. We were stuck in a rut. It was just after midnight on a very gloomy New Years Eve for us. We were watching TV and luckily a profile of ultra marathon runner Ray Zahab came on the CBC. We were instantly inspired and made a pact to do something extraordinary in the New Year.

Two weeks later we made the decision to cycle Africa and take part in the Longest Cycling Race in the world at 12,000 km.  We trained for the year leading up to the race and dreamed of selling a travel show to Discovery or The Outdoor Network.  We stayed focused on our goal of becoming a part of the EFI club and to win the race.  I was woman’s champion and Dave succeeded in cycling Every Fabulous Inch and we fulfilled our goals for the Tour d’Afrique 2008.

tour d'afrique cairo to capetown

Finish Line in Cape Town of the Tour d’Afrique

While our television career didn’t happen, our adventure travel blog was born and a year and a half later we were back on the road as full time travelers finally living our dream of becoming full time travelers.

And the rest is history.

In honour of our three-year anniversary since the trip that changed our life, we thought that we would share our favourite moments in Egypt.  The first leg of the Tour d’Afrique starts at the Pyramids and follows the Nile all the way to the Sudan.

We wanted to make sure that we had the chance to see everything that the country had to offer, so we left for Africa two weeks early to experience one of our own Egypt Holidays.  We are glad that we did because once we hit the road it was a non-stop race to the finish line.

What we did for our Two Weeks in Egypt before The Tour d’Afrique.

1. Bedouin Safari to the White Desert

The White Desert a great adventure in Egypt

Taking a trip to the White Desert is one of our best travel experiences of all time.  A jeep takes you deep into the Sahara Desert where you pass through the Black Desert before Entering the White Desert.  The White Desert is like being on a different planet.  Your Bedouin Guides set up camp as you have the chance to explore the most incredible formations you may ever witness.  Giant rocks pop out from the desert floor forming curious shapes like giant mushrooms, camels and birds.  The formations are made of a chalky substance and years of erosion has carved an impressive sight in the middle of the desert.

2. Hire a Camel to see the Pyramids

Man and camel at sunrise of Pyramids of Giza

A person cannot go to Egypt without seeing one of the world wonders.  The Pyramids of Giza do not disappoint and there is no better way to see them than on the back of a camel.  Hiring a guide and camel takes you to the back of the pyramids away from the tour buses and crowds.  You can live out your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies while exploring one of the last remaining Ancient Wonders of the World.

3. Take a Felucca on the Nile

felucca sails on the Nile River at sunset

There is nothing more magical than sailing on the Nile. This mythical river lives up to the hype.  To think of the historical events that took place on it’s banks is overwhelming. It on the Nile that baby Moses floated down the river. Pharoah’s ruled the land and Cleopatra and King Tut spent time on these waters.  To set sail on a Felucca and feel the breeze on your face while listening to nothing but the silence of the wind, you can almost imagine what life was like thousands of years ago.

4. Explore the Valley of the Kings

temple of Hatchepsut at Valley of the Kings in Egypt

Burial grounds to the great Kings of Ancient Egypt, the Valley of the Kings is impressive.  A Giant Valley surrounded by cliffs and mountains is the perfect resting place for royalty. Final home to King Tut and Ramses I, III, IV, it is filled with large chambers buried under the mountains.  While you are out at the Valley of the Kings, make sure to stop and see the temple of Hatshepsut. It is considered one of the most impressive monuments on the planet and what is unique is that this temple was made for a female king.

5. Visit a Charity in Cairo

a project area supported by Plan canada

A community in need in the heart of Cairo

When we cycled through Africa, not only did a portion of our funds go the Tour d’Afrique  Bicycle Foundation, we also raised money and awareness for Plan Canada. We have the honour of visiting an area of Cairo where no tourist ever goes.  This is the poorest part of the city, but with the help of Plan, microfinance  projects are being funded for craftsmen and artists, running water has been brought to the community, children with disabilities are being taken care of and integrated with society and people have hope for the future.  It was an uplifting experience to see and meet people that have so very little welcome us into their homes with warm smiles.

We saw so many things during our time in Egypt. The Luxor Temple, the Cairo Museum, Abu Simbel and we  camped on the Red Sea. We sailed along Lake Nassar all the way to Sudan and still have so much more to see in Egypt. But this trip before the Tour d’Afrique has made a great start.  It changed our lives and we will never forget our the beginning of the trip that changed our lives.

New Years Resolutions

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that changed your life? Do you believe in New Years Resolutions and if you do did you follow through?  This resolution that we made on New Years 2008 was our biggest ever and we fully believe in making new goals and seeking new opportunities every year.

This year we made a new resolution to get ourselves back into Tour d’Afrique shape. We have started our Muay Thai training camp and you can read all about it next week.

We posted a Twitter Question before writing this post to ask people if they make New Years Resolutions, here are the responses that we got.

  • SaritaAshley I personally don’t like the New Year’s resolution bit. I don’t understand why we can’t live our whole life like that everyday.
  • EvannRachel I think they’re a good thing. People need that date change sometimes to get started on something new. It’s motivational.
  • Nomad_Student I think making resolutions on Jan. 1 just because of the date is silly. Make them when you’re feeling resolved to do something!
  • backpackingww Good intentions, but it shouldn’t take a new year to want to make a change!

On Facebook we posed the question and here are the responses:

  • Olga: I start a new life every Monday morning. Somehow I end up in my old life by Monday afternoon.
  • Deanna: I reflect and I consider some things I would like to make an effort to improve upon but I find calling it a resolution just sets it up for failure.
  • Trisha Miller I make a few, but only if I know I’ll be able to keep them…..I don’t beleive in setting myself up for failure :-)
  • Anis Velasco:  Deanna summarized my philosophy on the subject perfectly. This year, as usual, I have not made resolutions; but I plan to make a conscious effort to live in the moment rather than worry about the future or fret about the past. Also, I think my husband and I may be running another half marathon this year – not sure where yet. I just learned at #TNI that the Paris marathon is amazing, so that’s been added to my bucket list, though probably not for this year.

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70 Comments

  1. Benny

    I envy you. It is me now who sat on the couch, tired of being corporate slave whic travel too little

    The spirit is still there, and the travel bug is getting stronger everyday. Hopefully in 2011 we will have the courage to be full time traveller

      1. Todd

        I hope you make 2011 a great year of adventure and travel Benny! and I also hope I FINALLY get to meet the Plant D in person :)

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  3. Mike

    Deb and Dave,

    What an inspiring story! There is nothing quite as powerful as setting a goal as a couple. Working together to accomplish something difficult. We really admire you. We are new years goals freaks! There is something about writing a goal down that helps pull you to that reality.

    Love the pics of Afrika. Our first trip to the continent was this past aug. We really enjoyed it. I guess we wouldn’t say we had fun…it was more like we enjoyed learning.

    Thanks for sharing and once again, you two are examples to the rest of us.

    Mike and Luci
    http://www.1000fights.com

  4. Baron's Life

    This is an amazing post…I was born in Africa and raised in Canada…but now you are giving me incentive to backpack through Africa….Cheers guys and keep well

    1. davendeb

      Wow! I didn’t know you were born in Africa, which part? I hope that you make it back, it is always nice to revisit your birthplace.

  5. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    When I was a kid I used to dream of traveling to Egypt – I would always read National Geographic articles on the country and watch documentaries on TV, and I even wrote a huge research paper in high school on how the ancient Egyptians took into account the alignment of certain constellations when designing the pyramids (such a random topic, lol).

    Reading this post and seeing all your wonderful pictures brought that all back, and now I’ve just determined that I’m going to finally make it happen and travel to Egypt within the next two years! YAY! I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose this is sort of one. :)

    1. davendeb

      Good for you Christy! I hope that you fulfill your dream and go. The Pyramids are one of the wonders that definitely live up to the hype. I am going to hold you to this resolution and check back! :-)

  6. Priyank

    12,000? holy pyramids! The longest I´ve cycled is 600km. I stopped making new year´s resolutions, instead I make them on birthday instead, hehe, same thing but different feeling. Loved the pictures of the pyramids and camel in front of it.
    Priyank

    1. davendeb

      Haha, good for you. A birthday is just like a new year. Yes, we did 120km per day on average. It was exhausting and difficult. Our longest day was 207 km. Where did you ride to during your 600 km trip?

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Jessalyn. It is quite funny that the blog wasn’t even a part of our plans. WE just put one up because the Tour d’Afrique encouraged it. We weren’t very good at updating and we never uploaded photos. When we returned from Africa we stopped blogging completely for almost a year. And then one day, we decided to pursue writing and photography. So we started it back up to share our work. And then it just started taking off. I never would have thought that this was a way to make a living.

  7. Migrationology

    Excellent example about following through with a New Years resolutions, or just following through with anything and using determination and persistence. I would have loved the TV show too!

    I was just in Egypt and missed the White Desert…but WOW does it look unbelievable!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks. We do believe in New Years Resolutions. I have made one every year my whole life. There is something about a new year that makes me want to start fresh. Even this year we made a resolution to get back to the shape we were in during the tour. We were in the optimal physical fitness of our lives and so we signed up for a Muay Thai Course to kick start our rebuilding process. If you go back to Egypt, I highly recommend the White Desert. It was the highlight of our stay there.

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  9. Theodora

    It’s great to hear how you got started. And amazed and awestruck by your physical fitness. I think a lot of blogs begin as dreams for something else. I’m always impressed by how well yours is working for you…

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Theodora. Yes, I don’t think that anyone goes into blogging thinking, that’s a career for me. I think they use it as a way to promote something else and then sometimes it takes on a life of its own.

  10. Lifecruiser Travel Blog

    You guys are so fabulous and it’s a real inspiration to read your blog! No kidding, I’m very impressed over your plans & experiences. Ours is bleach comparing to yours, even though I’m quite satisfied with our experiences too :-)

    Keep up the good work, we love to read about it, even though we’re not here so often to comment!

    Hugs x 2

    1. davendeb

      Aw, thanks so much for the compliment! You were one of the first blogs we followed and have always been amazingly supportive. Everything looks much more exciting in a post than it actually is though eh? We are spending the next two weeks just glued to our computers. While everyone thinks we are playing water sports at the beach, we are actually holed up in a tiny room working:)
      I know exactly how you feel, it is so difficult to comment on everyone’s blogs. Each person is so inspiring in their own way and we always feel that we are falling behind on another amazing story.

  11. Trisha Miller

    I love this post! Like Christy I grew up dreaming about exploring Egypt (among many other places), inspired by the stories and photos in the National Geographic magazine my parents subscribed to. Your post makes the dream seem realistic, so now you’ve inspired me to make it there sooner rather than later.

    So getting back into Tour D’Afrique shape? Does that mean you’re considering entering the race again? I think it would be even more appealing to a local TV station to follow you as you try again…don’t give up on that dream!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Trisha. I don’t think we are going to enter the race again. It is extremely expensive and it was very difficult mentally. Once is probably enough. That is not to say if they invited us back we wouldn’t do it. We’ll try any challenge again. We would be a lot wiser this time for sure. We are definitely not giving up on the dream of a TV show, we just have to figure out an angle to make people interested. And very true, Egypt is one of those places that everyone dreams of going to at a very early age.

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Gray. That is how we started traveling professionally. We had been traveling extensively for several years before that, but we had to keep coming home to our jobs in between. by 2005 or so we knew that we wanted to eventually quit our jobs and travel full time, we just weren’t sure how to do it. When we heard abou the Tour d’Afrique, we figured that would be a great way to set ourselves apart from other backpackers.

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Andrea. It wasn’t exactly an amazing experience, but it did change our lives. The trip was more of a plan for us. We signed up knowing that we wanted; to use it as a spring board for full time travel. It was very difficult because we set high goals and knew that we had to be successful to sell a tv show. We didn’t sell the show, but the success of the tour did springboard our new career. If we didn’t do so well, we probably wouldn’t have received all the media attention and even the blog wouldn’t have been as inspiring. So while other people could relax and enjoy the tour, we pushed ourselves beyond our limits and I (being Deb) especially had a difficult time. Dave enjoyed the cycling each day, but the high km each day took it’s toll on me.

      1. Andrea

        I guess by amazing I meant it’s something you can look back on and say, ‘wow, I did that’, even though it may have been a difficult experience at times.

      2. davendeb

        Oh no, you were right Andrea, It was amazing seeing Africa and completing the tour. I didn’t mean to put down what you said, I’m sorry it came off that way. I just wanted to reiterate that it was difficult but worth it because of how it changed our lives. But you are totally right, it was the trip of a lifetime and yes, Wow, I can’t believe I did it. I just re-read my reply and it totally came out wrong. I apologize. For some reason I just felt the need to let everyone know that it was also difficult. But it is those difficult times that can help you fulfill your dreams:) I guess I was saying thanks so much to all the supportive comments that I also wanted to let people know that we’re not superhuman and anyone can do it. So by the time I got to replying to your comment I thought, “I better let everyone know that it wasn’t easy.”

  12. Jennifer Barry

    Hi Dave and Deb, I really enjoyed this story of how you got started. I knew you did the Tour d’Afrique but I didn’t know that was the start of adventure blogging. :)

    Those are some gorgeous pictures of Egypt. I have to get there someday.

    The best resolution I made was to move from Boston to Dallas. That changed my life for the better in so many ways.

  13. Emily

    What an amazing experience! I’m dying to go to Africa, and biking throughout the continent sounds like a phenomenal way to explore it. I grew up completely fascinated by Ancient Egyptian history, so I cannot wait to go to Egypt and do the things you’ve done. So cool that you were the women’s champion!

  14. Andrew Murray

    I love Egypt, it’s one of the first countries I visited and it taught me loads of lessons about travelling. After that I was thoroughly addicted. I’ve been writing about those experiences all day today, funny to stumble across a post in such a similar vein :)
    Enjoyed the post!

  15. Jeremy B

    Wow, what a trip! That is a fascinating experience and a great way to see Africa. I look forward to your recaps of the things you did in honor of the Tour d’Afrique. I have to admire both of you for setting a HUGE goal like this and accomplishing it! I am not sure if I could challenge myself to do this but did you ever think that this goal would lead you to where you are today?! How inspiring! Your adventures are beautiful!

  16. Bethany

    You two are such an inspiration. I’m sorry if that sounds corny but it’s true. I love that you go out and do the things you really love. It’s so important to just live the life you dream of but so few people do it. Congrats on not only doing it but doing it well!! I hope I get to meet you guys in some random place someday because I already like you both :)

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  18. Sabina

    That is a massive undertaking you went on. 12,000 K – I’ve never heard of such a long bike journey. I had to go back and make sure I read this correctly. I wish I could do that, but I don’t know. That photo of the white desert is quite incredible too.

  19. Amr Boghdady

    I’m really glad and touched to see so many people loving Egypt here.
    I’m sorry Dave & Deb if I’m using your blog in a wrong way, but I’m asking everybody here to please keep us Egyptians in their prayers. We’ve been having a lot of street violence here following the protests and strikes against the president.

    God bless you all

  20. Oferte turism

    Wow. You really made a journey that is worth telling your grandchildren about. This must be a life changing trip. I have to congratulate you.
    @Amr Boghdady I am reading on a lof blogs about the things happening in Egypt these days and everybuddy is supporting the people of Egypt. You deserve a better life in that beautifull, milenar contry.

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  22. Bocas Man

    Amazing trip! Glad you both made it back from Egypt with some wonderful memories. Reading your post was also an adventure :)

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

  23. Alexd

    I really enjoyed this pictures. That photo of the white desert is quite incredible too. I’m very impressed over your plans & experiences. Your adventures are beautiful!

  24. Alexd

    I love Egypt, it’s one of the first countries I visited. Loved the pictures of the pyramids and camel in front of it.

  25. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy

    Always interesting to learn what prompted you to lead such an adventurous and unique life. Really neat what you do and thank you for sharing. It sounds like you sailed the Nile for hours aboard a felucca. Have always heard this ride is almost like witnessing an open-air museum pass in front of your eyes as there are so many structures and wonderful views on both sides of the river. Your photos are beautiful. Look forward to reading more details about the Egypt trip. Stay safe.

  26. Krista

    I really enjoyed this post. :-) I happen to be IN that time of great change, launching out into the unknown simply because I know it’s right and good. :-) I’m so excited with bits of fear sneaking in here and there, but I don’t let them get me down for long. :-) Love that you DID what was in your hearts to do, and that it resulted in so much good for you and the people you impact every day. :-)

  27. Ssaraiya

    12,000 km is astounding! How many days did it take?
    And that is such an enticing photo of the White Desert. I’ve been dying to visit North Eastern Africa for a while now. Hopefully 2011 is my year.

    1. davendeb

      Hi Ssaraiya, thanks for stopping by. The trip took 120 days. If you make it to Egypt in 2011, make sure to go to the White Desert. It was our favourite place in the country and so fascinating.

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  41. Amy

    Would love to read more about the cycling race. Have you written about the entire journey?

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