Only one week until I’m at the Tour d’Afrique start line (at the Pyramids). I thought now would be a good time to give an overview of the terrain we will be covering over the four month tour.
Each year some roads get paved while others deteriorate and from time to time they change the route a little.
Here’s what the 2012 route looks like:
(Country distances are rounded off to nearest 100 km)
EGYPT – 1000 km
All roads have relatively good to excellent pavement; flat and smooth.
SUDAN – 1600 km
It is 75% paved through Sudan with most of it new within the last couple years. The parts that are not paved are corrugated, rutted, loose sand and hard packed gravel; tough riding. The unpaved days are south of Khartoum on the route through Dindar National Park. We’ve been warned; this is some serious rough riding!
ETHIOPIA – 1800 km
The roads in this country are also being paved over. The route is now 80 % paved, with about a quarter of that in rough condition. The unpaved portions are loose gravel, corrugation and dirt. This is mixed in with a lot of climbing, making it even more challenging.
KENYA – 900 km
Northern Kenya is a lava rock desert with terrible rutted roads, hence the section name ‘Meltdown Madness’. The 6 days and 500 km from the Ethiopia border to Isiolo, Kenya includes some of the toughest cycling on the tour. From Isiolo onwards, 90% of our route in Kenya is paved and most of that is in reasonable shape.
TANZANIA – 1200 km
Approximately 30% of our route in Tanzania is paved. Much of the time we are cycling on a dirt road cutting through the centre of Tanzania. This road can be very muddy if it rains, and can be rocky with loose gravel in parts.
MALAWI – 800 km
Basically 100% of our route is paved, of which 90% is good quality pavement while the rest is a mixture of potholes and rough pavement.
ZAMBIA – 1100 km
Close to 100% of the route is paved but 40 % of this pavement is heavily potholed.
BOTSWANA – 1500 km
Close to 100% of the route is paved and relatively flat with some potholed sections. We’ve been told The long distances can be a mental challenge for some riders.
NAMIBIA – 1300 km
About a third of the route is paved, that is the part up until Windhoek. From there on the Namibian route is a mix of sand, hard-packed clay, dirt, loose gravel, and corrugation.
SOUTH AFRICA – 800 km
There is excellent pavement but about 100 km of very rough roads.
Each and every day will bring a surprise or two. Even if they tell us the day is entirely paved, we could run into some unexpected detours, construction, gravel patches, or a campsite that is 1 or 2 km off route down a dirt road.