We were talking the other day about all of the things that we were afraid of before we left for Africa. We had traveled around the world before, but this was something completely different. After all, it was going to be our first time camping in the desert and in the jungle, it was going to be our first time stepping foot on the African soil and it was our first time ever crossing an entire continent on bicycle.  We were in for quite and adventure.

Starting Line of our Cycle Through Africa

Starting Line of our Cycle Through Africa

It is funny to think of all of the irrational fears that we had before leaving. Well, I should say that I had. Dave tends to go with the flow better than me, but that is not to say he wasn’t curious on how we were going to deal with problems that would arise.

So without further adieu, here are some fears that we had about camping and cycling our way down Africa, what we encountered and how we dealt with them.

On the Road in Egypt

On the Road in Egypt

1 – Fear of being chased by wild animals.  This happened to us on more than one occasion. Packs of wild dogs chased us in Egypt and they managed to hold on for quite a while. Luckily, we saw them coming. They hung out in fields and started chasing us as we passed. Normally we had enough momentum going so we could stay one step ahead of them. I don’t know what we would have done if they had chased us on an uphill.

Dave was also chased by baboons.  They ran along with him for a fair amount of time, but once again, he managed to outrun them. It sounds pretty funny to be chased by baboons, but they can be very vicious so it is a good thing Dave was in pretty good shape during that part of the trip. All in all, we came through the trip unscathed.

A Nice Baboon in Ethiopia

A Nice Baboon in Ethiopia

2. Peeing in Public. Ok, I was just looking for an excuse to write the word pee on my blog. But this really was a concern. I had heard that in Ethiopia especially that it was very populated and if you had to go, you wouldn’t have a lot of privacy. I was considering carrying a sarong with me so that if I had to squat in public, I would at least be covered up.  However, this never was an issue.  There was plenty of deserted areas to duck behind a tree or a mound of dirt.  I must admit though that in Ethiopia it was very crowded and you didn’t have a lot of time before people came out of the middle of nowhere. So, you just had to do your business quickly.

A Tent for Privacy in Ethiopia

A Tent for Privacy in Ethiopia

3. Dealing with snakes and insects while doing your business.  Yes, I see a theme…going to the Toilet is always and issue.  We had to get out of our tents in the middle of the night and find a safe place to go.  Surprisingly, I never worried much about it by the time we camped in long grass and bushes. I guess it is because through Egypt and Sudan we started off in Deserts. We became numb to any worries after a month or so, therefore, when I when I went to do my deed, I never worried about it.  I did however make a lot of noise walking so, I am assuming that snakes and other creepy crawlies would have been more afraid of me, than I was of them.

Lot's of Crashes, Luckily we weren't a Part of any

Lot’s of Crashes, Luckily we weren’t a Part of any

4. Crashing. Traffic can be brutal in cities and on highways and I was pretty concerned about being taken out by a car. It ended up not being the cars we had to worry about, but the tour buses and transports. In Egypt buses would zoom passed us on the highways without a care in the world. They would also drive straight for us from the opposite direction seemingly wanting to run us off of the road. They did a couple of times, but if you kept your head about you, you just simply drove onto the shoulder to wait for them to go by.  There were a few crashes on the trip, one person broke their collarbone, one had a concussion, there were several stitches, but Dave and I were lucky with the fact that we didn’t have any major falls.  The only one that took me out of commission for 10 days was a minor scratch from a silly little fall that ended up getting infected.

My Knee Infection Slowly Healing

My Knee Infection Slowly Healing

5- Surprisingly infection was never on our list, but it is a very real fear now. Several people caught serious staff infections and cellulitus. We were riding in the rainy season in Tanzania and Malawi, so even mosquito bites were causing severe problems. But that was not a fear of ours until we were in the middle of Africa.  A word to the wise.  If you are in Africa during the wet season and you have a cut that doesn’t even seem like it should matter, Don’t ignore it.  Clean it and disinfect it, anything can become infected in a matter of 24 hours.

An Elephant in Chobe National Park, Luckily not in our Camp

An Elephant in Chobe National Park, Luckily not in our Camp

6. Having Wild Animals surround our camps. We were camping right through the heart of Chobe National Park in Botswana and in forests in Ethiopia, but we never had a problem at night. We didn’t have electric fences or armed guards, we were just a little traveling community of campers pulling off at the side of roads or in clearings.  We saw signs like a elephant dung all over the place, so we knew that a herd of elephants had passed through, but we never had the occasion of anything entering our camp.  Oh except for Hyena’s surrounding us in Ethiopia, but they kept their distance. Just don’t wander off with your shovel to do your business too far in the middle of the night.

Relaxing at the Crater Lake with Usual Crowd of Children

Relaxing at the Crater Lake with Usual Crowd of Children

7. Rocks being thrown at us in Ethiopia. This is a very real fear and it is well known that Ethiopian children like to throw rocks at cyclists.  You can read all about it at my post at Brave New Traveler.

Our Bikes at Sunset

Our Bikes at Sunset


8. Contaminated Water. We were going to be riding through very dry and remote countries. We really haven’t ever had to worry about water before, you can buy bottled water nearly everywhere. Well, not in Sudan.  Our trucks would stop and fill up at wells in towns and then purify our supply with tablets.  Well, when drinking your water this way for 4 months you are bound to have a parasite or two sneak through and I had 3 different kinds accompany me back to Canada. I swear I still haven’t recovered.

Water stops in Sudan

Water stops in Sudan

9. Bandits. We have all heard about robberies and muggings and when you are cycling all alone for 120km each day, you would think that you would be pretty vulnerable.  I especially cycled alone more than a lot of people. I was racing, but I wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the men’s peloton and I didn’t want to hang back with the expedition riders, so I was alone with no one in sight for hours on end.  Only once did I worry a little about being robbed and that was when I was exhausted on a day in Ethiopia.  I had a group of teenagers walking along with me harassing me, slapping me and grabbing at my things.  One huge yell at them though and they left me alone.  I also managed to find some extra energy to get back on my bike and ride up that epic hill that I much rather would have walked.

10. Living in Filth and Sweat. I sweat a lot, I mean buckets and after a workout, the first thing I need is a shower. Otherwise I become itchy and my skin stings and I am just generally uncomfortable.  I burn easily too and whenever I am at the beach, sand stings my skin if I have gotten too much sun.

That is one Dirty Dave

That is one Dirty Dave

In Sudan and Ethiopia, we were sun burnt and hot. Sand would stick to our skin mixed with sweat and we went for up to 6 days without access to water. We had enough water in the trucks to drink and cook with and that was it.  The rest of the time we were on water rations and were not allowed to use it to bathe or clean.  It was unbelievable, but I became used to being dirty. My skin toughened up and I didn’t even care that I couldn’t shower. If we had any water leftover in our water bottles at the end of the day, we were allowed to dump that over our heads, and that was really all that we needed.  When we had days off, we would shower once, but if we had a second day off we would say, “why bother, I just showered yesterday!”

So after our adventures in Africa, we feel that we will be able to handle anything that the world can throw at us during our next travel. Or at least we are ready to face our fears head on.

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14 Comments

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Fears about Cycling Through Africa | Travel Around The … | Egypt today

  2. Amy @ The Q Family

    Wow! I love all the pictures especially the last one. Sorry, Dave but you do look really dirty. I can totally see the line of his shirt and sock. You guys are amazing. It’s one heck of an adventure!

  3. Pingback: Fears about cycling in Egypt : Egypt Then and Now

  4. Anil

    Baboons are quite scary, just take a look at their teeth! Glad you were both safe for the most part. I think the rocks would have driven me insane, especially after the fatigue of all that cycling.

    Guess it wouldn’t be an adventure without all the hardships :)

  5. Baron's Life

    Bonjour mes chers amis Deb et Dave…Vive Le Canada…for only we can afford to be crazy…lol
    I just read this wonderful action post and I am in total awe…! drooling and do not think any other life experience could be better. You should be able to sell this story to many travel magazines and I encourage you to do so… The photo of the bikes making love under some desert sunset…will I am sure produce much needed spare parts for your trip.. This pic is alos saleable.
    I am not sure how you guys managed to get through the desrt without being attacked … great job…don’t do it again though…it is the luck of the draw out there if you know what I mean…
    How did you sustain yourselves…what did you eat on this trek? other than bacteria infected water in Sudan what did you drink?
    Dave looks like a poor sight in the last picture….
    Nice legs Deb…sorry to hear about the injury…!
    You guys keep well and keep on trucking…you gotta win #1 for travel blogs… I wish and hope you do

  6. conor

    Sounds like you had alot to contend with, I dont think I would have thought of half those things. I think that might be just as well or I would never go anywhere :)

  7. Jack Moe

    Many of us dream of taking a wild adventure through an exotic location for a holiday, vacation or trip of self exploration, not many of us actually treat ourselves to such an exciting and wonderful experience. There has never been a better time to fulfill this worthy dream, and traveling through beautiful and enchanting Africa is something everyone should do in their lifetime.
    Booking an african travel safari directly with a local operator in the country you wish to visit can save you a lot on money. But you must be very careful that you are booking with a reliable local safari operator who will give you a stress free vacation. With the internet full of all manner of safari operators, read on and discover how easy it is to vet if your African safari operator is genuine and reliable.

  8. Ross

    Haha, I love that pick of dirty Dave!

    I am looking at some cycling holidays and Africa has just gone straight to the top of my list! The photos and tales that you have must be amazing and no doubt last you a life time!

    I had an experience of being chased by dogs in Cambodia and they are insanely vicious things arent they! Usually they are half eaten by maggots and no doubt have rabies so you do not want to be bitten by one of those! Its a good job you guys were fit enough to out run them and the baboons on your bikes!
    .-= Ross´s last blog ..Garmin 110 =-.

    1. davendeb

      It is true. The dogs are scarier than anything! When they come at you in a giant pack, you start to worry. Thank God we weren’t going uphill at the time, or we never would have outrun them. Africa is amazing to cycle. Very different terrains and landscapes. Not to mention the culture. The continent is so divers that the Cairo to Cape Town route gives you a chance to see the amazing diversity.

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  10. Pingback: IBIT Travel Digest | I'm Black and I Travel!

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