Cycle Tanzania & South Africa

South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic Of,

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12 people
25 days
Activity and Adventure, Cycling, Tours
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Overview of Cycle Tanzania & South Africa

Enjoy cycling in two of the most fascinating countries on the African continent.
Brimming with mighty predators and birds, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are must-visits for any Tanzania trip, but safaris are only the beginning. This unique cycling adventure has you cruising down Great Rift Valley escarpments, strolling through farm villages, roasting and grinding your own coffee, drifting off to sleep among nocturnal creatures, experiencing the culture of the Maasai people, pedalling far off the beaten track to trails where no cars go, and of course sipping sundowners at sunset. A cycle in South Africa is more than a bit of exercise. It’s a ride through a long and troubled history and into a bright future, through the ever-changing terrain of cityscapes, towering mountains, heritage vineyards, nature reserves, and along winding coastal roads that look across fierce cliffs. From Cape Town, head into the country’s famous winelands and savour scenic passes and local wines on the way to historic Stellenbosch. Cross nature reserves and twist through the Langeberg mountain range down to the continent’s southernmost point. Squeeze between mountain peaks, look out for whales in Hermanus, hug the edges of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, and then explore the tracks of Cape Peninsula. Return to Cape Town with memories of a lifetime.
With a support vehicle at every step of the journey, take your time to discover Tanzania and South Africa on two wheels.

Trip Summary for Cycle Tanzania & South Africa

Start Location: Arusha,   End Location: Cape Town

Countries Visited: South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic Of, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 21   Lunches: 19   Dinners: 12

    • Cycling is the perfect way to enjoy the incredible landscapes of Africa. When the going gets tough, ride in the support vehicle, and when it’s time to see wildlife, swap the bike for a jeep or truck
    • Kick off your adventure with that cornerstone of all cycling adventures – coffee. Roast, grind and taste your own in the village of Tengeru
    • The Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater are two of Africa’s very best wildlife arenas. Fall asleep surrounded by creatures of the African plains and take a safari in search of the rare black rhino
    • Venture to the weird and the wonderful – the far-out Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, Hemingway’s beloved Lake Manyara and the flamingo-dotted, deep-pink chameleon that is Lake Natron
    • Cycle where tourists rarely go, across the remote, barely-charted plains of Lengai in the realm of misty volcanic peaks
    • Enjoy the long and winding descent into the stunning Great Rift Valley, barely pedalling a single stroke
    • Cycle in the shadow of the majestic Table Mountain, with the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean a constant companion by your side
    • Swap water bottles for wine bottles at the famous vineyards of Stellenbosch and beyond, refuelling with South African delicacies
    • Encounter the ‘real South Africa’ while cycling across the rural landscape dotted with small historic homesteads and towns
    • Get to know the two finest mountain passes in South Africa on two wheels, then be rewarded with thrilling freewheel downhill rides
    • Stand on Cape L’Agulhas – the southernmost point in Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, and enjoy unobstructed views towards Antarctica


Day 1 - Arusha
Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania. Today there are no activities planned until your important group meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Should you require a transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), Arusha Airport (ARK) or a shuttle to Nairobi at the end of the trip, this can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting. Take a stroll to acquaint yourself with the town which, at 1,300 m above sea level, enjoys a temperate year-round climate.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the group meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Day 2 - Mkuru
Departing Arusha early, climb aboard your support vehicle and head east, stopping along the way to enjoy a walking tour through the village of Tengeru. Here you will get a close look at local farm life. You'll also learn how to roast and grind that staple of all good cycling escapades – coffee. Once the roasting and grinding is done, taste the results of your hard work. After this unique coffee stop, continue to Usa River before heading north. From here you'll jump onto your bike for the first time and cycle north (approximately 3 hours; 30 km), in the shadow of Mt Meru, through Arusha National Park. Arrive at your overnight destination, the Mkuru Training Camp, located in the foothills of Mount Meru. This small, low-impact community 'camp' is dedicated to research, education and training for the promotion of good practices in natural resources management. 

Tonight you will stay in a dorm room with shared facilities.

Riding distance - approx. 30kms

Day 3 - Longido
Enjoy a fairly flat and level ride on unsealed road before hitting the tarmac and heading north (on the road that connects Kenya to Tanzania) to Longido (approximately 3.5 hours; 65 km). Once you meet the main road – which has surprisingly little traffic – you can enjoy a gentle mostly downhill ride for the remaining 40 km to Longido itself. Longido is located on the outskirts of the Mount Longido Forest Reserve. Here you will interact with the famous Maasai people for the first time. Any cultural experience with the Masaai is a colourful affair and one you will remember for a long time. Those with some energy left can take an optional short hike along one of the many walking trails on Mount Longido.

Riding distance - approx. 65kms

Day 4 - Lake Natron & Ol Doinyo Lengai
Today is something unique – you'll brave the unpaved roads which cut west across from Longido to Lengai. These aren’t roads you’ll find on Google Maps, and they're often in poor condition, so you'll be praising your front suspension. The amazing views and car-free environment, however, make it worth the effort. The amount of cycling today will very much depend on the conditions – given the roads, there will be an estimated mix of cycling and driving. The aim is to cycle about 40 kilometres (approximately 3 hours) of this 95-kilometre journey. What won’t change is the scenery, as you travel across dry open plains with the Kerimasi, Gelai and Kitumbeine mountains in the distance and closer by seven remarkable volcanos, the jewel being the spectacular and active Ol Doinyo Lengai, (Mountain of God' in the Maasai language). Close to your remote campsite is the shallow, salty Lake Natron. Often coloured bright pink or deep red due to algae, it is a mecca for the breeding 'lesser' flamingo. Reaching temperatures above 40°C and with a similar acidity to ammonia, this is not a place to swim, but the view is certainly an interesting one.

Riding distance - approx. 40kms

Day 5 - Lake Natron & Ol Doinyo Lengai
Get as active or as relaxed as you like today. Take the bike and ride to the nearby Saitoti River to cool off in the natural plunge pools. Visiting Lake Nartron is also a great option; it's located around 15 kilometres from your camp. Serious adventures can choose to climb Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano (2,878 m), which means a very early start (midnight) and the aim is to enjoy sunrise views. While it requires no technical skills or equipment, the climb itself is long and steep, with large section of scree, and it does get cold in the early mornings. The key is to take the mountain slowly – you will hear the cries of 'pole pole' (slowly slowly) on a regular basis as your guide leads you up the mountain. While it is a hard climb, the sunrise views from the top are truly superb, and you'll be one of the only climbers there.

Riding distance - None

Day 6 - Wasso
Today is a long day as you leave Natron behind and climb the valley walls to the Rift Valley escarpment. First you will cycle a relatively flat section (approximately 40 km), with great views of Lake Natron itself. Here you'll climb aboard your vehicle and inch your way up the incline, gaining over a kilometre of elevation over this next section (approximately 50 km). There will of course be stops so you can take in the views and hopefully snap a picture of the unique Lake Natron one last time. The drive today follows the boundaries of the Serengeti National Park all the way up to Wasso, your destination for this evening.

Riding distance - approx. 40kms

Day 7 - Serengeti
Leave Wasso behind and head to the Serengeti National Park (approximately 3 hours; 130 kilometres). Enter the park and swap from a two-wheeled machine to a four-wheeled one. Your afternoon game drive by overland vehicle puts you in the realm of some of Africa's mightiest predators. The rolling grasslands of the Serengeti, dotted with acacias, are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Game viewing in the Serengeti is amazing and as you camp out at night, don't be surprised to hear lions in the distance as you recount your wildlife sightings from the day. In normal circumstances, you can expect to see four out of the 'Big Five' game during your stay (rhinos are elusive). Your campsite is basic, but it's within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal creatures as you drift off to sleep.

Riding distance - None

Day 8 - Serengeti
Rise early, around sunrise, for a game drive, followed by a second game drive in the afternoon. Between the two drives you can relax, just like the animals do, during this hotter part of the day. Enjoy a hearty meal during this break, and perhaps take a siesta. Depending on wildlife movements and opportunities for sightings, however, the drive may continue through lunch and last all day. In this case, you will return to the lodge in the late afternoon. For an unforgettable experience this morning, you might like to take an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. Please enquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity. It's up to you whether you would like to try for a better price locally on the ground, but this runs the risk of missing out, as places are limited.

Riding distance - None

Day 9 - Ngorongoro Crater
In the morning, we head out of the Serengeti (perhaps visiting on the way Simba Kopjes, an outcrop of rocks favoured by lions and cheetahs who can often be seen basking in the morning sun) and make our way to the legendary Ngorongoro Crater (approximately 4 hours) to take in this amazing destination on a 4x4 game drive. This is one of Africa's real natural treasures, often touted as a vast Garden of Eden. Within this crater lies every type of ecosystem, including riverine forests, open plains, freshwater and alkaline lakes. The scenery is spectacular as you descend almost 600 metres down to the crater floor. You are bound to see a variety of incredible wildlife here, and it's your best chance to spot the endangered black rhinoceros.

We take lunch by the freshwater lake fed by the Ngoitokitok Spring, an area inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions, and many others. After our game drive we head back up the crater walls to the National Park gate where we get back on our bikes for the undulating 15km (approx.1hr) ride to our campsite in the small town of Karatu, our home for the night.

Riding distance - approx. 15kms (undulating)

Day 10 - Rift Valley escarpment
It's time to jump back on your bike for the hilly ride from Karatu to our accommodation that sits literally on the very edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, offering breathtaking views over the town of Mto wa Mbu and the massive Lake Manyara. While today’s ride seems short at only 25kms the constant uphill and downhill will definitely test your fitness and bike skills. There are several downhill sections over 3km long where the only effort required will be in controlling your speed. If you'd rather not ride today, you are free to ride in the support vehicle instead.

As well as the stunning view (both sunset and sunrise are pretty special) we stay in very unique accommodation, the beehive shaped bungalows called African Igloos.

Ride distance - approx. 25kms

Day 11 - Rift Valley & Lake Manyara
This morning you will ride the fast descent of the Rift Valley escarpment to the small town of Mto Wa Mbu, located on the northern shores of Lake Manyara, once described by Ernest Hemingway as the 'loveliest I have seen in Africa'.

Leaving the tarmac behind we ride through the small villages and plantations before emerging out onto the smooth lake flood plains where we continue our ride to the very edge of the lake. If we are lucky we will spot flamingos or even ride alongside wildebeests and gazelle.

Leaving the lake behind we ride back through Mto Wa Mbu and on to the dusty tracks that take us to a traditional Masaai village. Located between towering hills and with awesome view of the surrounding plains this is an ideal place to enjoy lunch with our local friends.

After lunch we drive (or cycle if you want to!) back up the escarpment to overnight at Panorama Safari Camp.

Total riding distance 30-35kms

Day 12 - Lake Manyara/Arusha
Today is our last one on our bicycles. We first explore the Lake Manyara National Park on a final game drive (vehicle). Surrounded by the towering ridges of the Rift Valley escarpment, the lake is bordered by lush forest and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot the famous Lake Manyara tree-climbing lions, as well as elephants, baboons, and over 400 recorded species of birds.

After lunch we climb back onto our bikes and cycle the smooth and relatively traffic-free tarmac road to the Makuyuni junction then as the traffic starts to get busy again we reboard our vehicle for the drive back to Arusha.

We arrive back into Arusha with plenty of time to get cleaned up before enjoying an optional final night dinner with our fellow cyclists leaving at the end of the Tanzania section of the trip.

Riding distance – approx. 40kms

Included Activities
Lake Manyara game drive

Day 13 - Arusha
Today is a free day to explore Arusha and the surrounding area. Please speak to your leader about options.

We recommend reconfirming your flight to Cape Town and any airport transfers you may have booked.

Day 14 - Cape Town
IMPORTANT - The flight from Arusha/Kilimanjaro airport to Cape Town (and any associated airport transfers) is NOT included in the cost of your trip and must be booked separately. Most flights to Cape Town fly via Johannesburg and/or Nairobi.

Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. There are no activities planned today until an important group meeting at 6pm – double check with reception for the time and place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

With its stunning coastline, dramatic surrounding mountains and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities and a great place to start your trip. The infamous Robben Island (Nelson Mandela’s prison for 18 years), vineyards, adventure activities and plenty of good restaurants and cafes are all at your doorstep. After the meeting tonight, maybe walk to nearby Long and Kloof streets for great nightlife.

Riding distance: None

Day 15 - Stellenbosch
Meet your bike support team, get fitted to your bike, then take a quick ride to make sure everything’s working. Leave beautiful Cape Town on four wheels to begin with, driving to Blouberg to see the iconic Table Mountain – don’t forget your camera! Soak in the incredible view, then continue east towards the winegrowing region of Paarl and the famous Fairview property. While Fairview has been producing wine since 1699, you’ll be sampling some of their later vintages on an included wine and cheese tasting. The epicurean experience continues with a stop at the iconic Spice Route at Seidelberg Wine Estate. The old farmhouse offers an assortment of typical South African delicacies, including local wines, barley beer, biltong, and artisan chocolates – perfect for an optional lunch. This afternoon, work off a few of those calories with a cycle, starting in the outskirts of nearby Wellington. Climb the dozens of hairpin turns on one of South Africa’s finest scenic passes – Bain’s Kloof Pass. While it’s a stiff uphill ride for the first half, the views are spectacular and there’s the pleasure of an all-downhill second half on a sealed road to the Breede River (approximately 30 kilometres). After this enjoyable ride, climb back into the vehicle and drive west to the ‘City of Oaks’, the graceful town of Stellenbosch.

Riding distance: Approx. 30kms

Notes: Cape Town to Wellington is approximately a 95-kilometre drive, with Breede River to Stellembosch approximately 90-kilometres.

Day 16 - Stellenbosch
Today is back on the bike but for a different type of ride. It’s a fairly relaxed affair as you experience a full day cycle and wine tasting tour (10am-4pm, covering around 20 kilometres). Enjoy tastings at three superb wineries, with a focus on the smaller, boutique wineries of the Stellenbosch region. The cycling route takes you along private farm roads, through the breathtaking vineyards, quiet tree-lined roads and spectacular mountain views of the area, before returning to Stellenbosch itself. Back in town, you’ll have a free afternoon and evening to explore its leafy cobbled lanes and elegant mix of 18th century architecture. This evening, why not head out to AmaZink Live, South Africa’s first township theatre restaurant, or for something completely different try the Stellenbosch Ghost Tour, a spooky introduction to South Africa’s second oldest town.

Riding distance: Approx. 20kms

Day 17 - Little Karoo
This morning, climb back into the vehicle and begin the long but scenic journey east through the Haweqwa Nature Reserve. There are few better ways to break up a drive than with stops at several wineries – so that’s exactly what you’ll do. Continue on to meet the scenic Cape Route 62 at the historic spa town of Montagu (approximately 160 kilometres). After a long drive, get out of the vehicle and stretch your legs on a cycle that heads gradually uphill, following alongside the Marloth Nature Reserve. You’ll be surrounded by some striking mountain scenery and the semi-desert region of the Little Karoo – the treeless plains and smooth topped hills a severe but beautiful backdrop for this 65-kilometre ride. Tonight you’ll stay in Barrydale, a small rural town that lies at the foot of the towering Langeberg Mountain Range in the heart of the fertile Tradouw Valley – a sharp contrast to the starkness of Little Karoo.

Riding distance: Approx. 65kms

Day 18 - Bontebok National Park
Tackle one of the best rides of the whole trip today, with the climb over the Tradouw Pass twisting through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery in the Langeberg. The climb itself isn’t actually too hard as you gain less than 300 metres of elevation, and the stunning backdrop and smooth sealed road will help you forget the ache in your legs (approximately 35 kilometres). There are several areas to stop and admire the spectacular views down into the gorge of the Buffelsjags River, with its onyx-coloured rock pools and waterfalls. Travel along the reverse side of the Zuuberg Nature Reserve, then climb back into the vehicle to avoid the busy truck traffic on the N2 highway and drive through Swellendam. Continue on the short distance to Bontebok National Park (approximately 20 kilometres), the smallest National Park in South Africa. Lying on the banks of the Breede River, this park is built to protect the endangered Bontebok (a native antelope) and has a variety of safe trails perfectly suited for cycling. When you arrive you can choose to cycle a few more kilometres to check out the park, or simply relax at camp with a cold drink and a beautiful view – the choice is yours!

Riding distance: Approx. 35kms

Day 19 - Cape L'Agulhas/Arniston
Leave the inland behind and head south to Cape A'gulhas (“Cape of the Needles”), the southernmost point in Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet (approximately 140 kilometres). The sea off Cape Agulhas is infamous for winter storms and huge rogue waves, resulting in the sinking of around 150 ships over the centuries. Start your cycling for the day here after an optional visit to the Cape A'gulhas Light House. Ride along the flat rural roads (a mixture of sealed and unsealed), curving east and then hugging the rugged coastline until you reach the small seaside town of Arniston (approximately 45 kilometres). Famous for its whitewashed thatched cottages that line the shore, this fishing village remains unchanged over the years. It’s a great place to simply relax and take in the amazing ocean views after a long day’s cycling. For a change of pace, maybe take an easy stroll to the impressive Waenhuiskrans Cave. This beautiful sea cave can only be reached at low tide and is huge. Its name means ‘wagon-house cliff’ because it’s thought to be big enough to hold a wagon and a full team of oxen (not that you could actually get your oxen or cart down here). 

Riding distance: Approx. 45kms

Day 20 - Hermanus
Today is a long travel day and so there will be two separate rides. Leave sleepy Arniston behind and make the short vehicle transfer to nearby Bredasdorp (approximately 25 kilometres). Here you’ll jump back on the bikes and cycle the rolling route along smooth tarmac through classic South African farmland, up to the delightfully rural town of Napier (approximately 20 kilometres). As the road gets busier from here you’ll reboard the vehicle and transfer to the base of the famous Akkedisberg Pass (approximately 30 kilometres). While now topped with a smooth sealed road, the original gravel road dates back to 1776 and is one of oldest passes in South Africa. There are some steep sections but the pass itself rises less than 100 metres. Your climbing is quickly rewarded with a thrilling downhill ride that follows the path of the Klein River all the way down to Stanford. Here you’ll visit the Birkenhead microbrewery and be rewarded with a cool lager or wine in the shadow of the Klein Rivier mountains. After this short refreshment break continue west, through the dramatic scenery where the rugged mountains meet the Klein River lagoon, until you finally hit the ocean at the beautiful town of Hermanus (approximately 45 kilometres). The self-catered apartments here will be your base for the next two nights.

Notes: The road from Stanford to Hermanus can occasionally get very busy with traffic – should your leader feel there is a safety risk on the day we will drive this section instead.

Riding distance: Approx. 65kms

Day 21 - Hermanus
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all that Hermanus has to offer. The town is renowned for being an excellent destination for whale watching, and is considered to have the best land-based whale watching in the world. You could try the Whale Walking tour with the Hermanus Whale Crier or, if you are desperately missing your cycling crowd from back home, join the Hermanus Cycling Club on their regular Saturday ride. You are welcome to explore the area on bikes at any time. The town also has a variety of adventure activities on offer, beautiful award-winning beaches to relax on, and abundant hiking trails in nearby Femkloof Nature Reserve. For something less active, there are fantastic markets and excellent cuisine on offer too.

Riding distance: None

Day 22 - Gordon's Bay/Simonstown
Another spectacular ride lies in store today as you cycle the coastal road through Betty’s Bay all the way to the harbour town of Gordon's Bay (approximately 70 kilometres). With the dramatic peaks of the Kogelberg and Steenbras Nature Reserves on the right, and endless beaches and ocean views on the left, this is a truly stunning ride. From here you will continue by vehicle, passing beneath the imposing Helderberg Mountain before returning to the beach road and on to Simon’s Town (approximately 85 kilometres). This is the home of the South African Navy and the gateway to the stunning Cape Peninsula. Evidence of a 200-year naval history is all around you but is best seen in the 1795 British-built Martello Tower near the naval base. Simon’s Town is also home to a beautiful beach with a spectacular mountain backdrop, as well as a nearby penguin colony.

Riding distance: Approx. 70kms

Day 23 - Cape Peninsula
Today you’ll experience a close-up encounter with nature at the nearby Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, home to a colony of vulnerable jackass penguins nestled among the giant granite boulders. Here you can view these cute little fellas at close range as they wander freely in their natural environment. Later in the day, drive the dramatic coastal road south through the Table Mountain National Park to explore beautiful Cape Peninsula, visiting Cape Point and the nearby Cape of Good Hope. Retracing your steps, cycle back to Simon’s Town, enjoying the downhill sections of this picturesque route (approximately 35 kilometres). The rest of the day is free to enjoy Simon’s Town’s ample activities – why not join a boat cruise to Seal Island, home to 75,000 Cape Fur Seals, 24 different bird species and a favoured hunting ground of the Great White Shark. If you feel like just kicking back, there’s always Long Beach or the vast array of spectacular outdoor eating locations.

Riding Distance: Approx. 35kms

Day 24 - Cape Town
The very best ride has been saved for today, your final day on the bike. Cycling part of the prestigious Cape Argus cycle route, follow the hilly west coast of Cape Peninsula through numerous seaside towns, past beautiful beaches and, of course, beneath the legendary Table Mountain itself. There’s no denying that today’s ride is a tough one – it involves over 1,300m of climbing in 65 kilometres, and the hills start early as you begin to climb the hairpins straight out of Simon’s Town. As soon as you hit the top of the escarpment it’s a nice 8-kilometre downhill to the west coast, then across the undulating (sealed) coastal road from there. For those feeling tired, or who’d simply prefer to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of the support vehicle, it’s there at your disposal – but we really recommend trying to cycle as much of this route as possible. Your ride ends at the famous red and white striped Green Point Lighthouse, close to the centre of Cape Town itself. Get back into the vehicle to avoid Cape Town’s chaotic traffic and take a short five kilometre transfer to your hotel. There’s plenty of time to get cleaned up and perhaps go out for a final celebratory dinner with your fellow cyclists.

Riding Distance: Approx. 65kms

Day 25 - Cape Town
This memorable cycling adventure through Tanzania and South Africa comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time. If you wish to stay on in Cape Town additional accommodation can be arranged – please enquire at time of booking.

Riding distance: None

Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities

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