The bare facts
London to the Cape Town
23,215 km / 14,425 miles
27 Countries in 3 continents
1 year and 4 months on the roadRoute and distances
Route: UK, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.
Europe (London to Istanbul)
5010 km over 4 months
The Middle East (Istanbul to Cairo)
3236 km over 2 and a half months
Africa (Cairo to Cape Town)
14,969 km over 9 months
Paved roads - 20,933 km
Unpaved - 2282 km (mostly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia)
Top altitude - 3050 metres - north of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Top speed - 75 km/hr (coming into Iskenderun, Turkey)
The shores of the Dead Sea to the King's highway, Jordan.
From 400 below sea level to 1300 metres above
Continuous ascent for 55 km and 1700 vertical metres
(although this is nothing compared to what's coming up in South America)
Longest distance cycled in one day - 209 km
Southern Namibia to the South African border (strong tailwind and lots of Cadbury's Dairy Milk)
Shortest distance in one full day of cycling - 47 km
The remote Turkana region of Northern Kenya (lots of sand and lots of pushing)
Highest average speed over a day - 28.5 km/hr, Namibia
Lowest average speed over a day - 7.4 km/hr, Kenya
Longest stay in one place - 23 days - Istanbul
'Other' included churches, schools, hospitals, police stations, monasteries, convents, derelict castles, catholic missions, tourist information centres, rough on the beach, in a water storage tank, in the research facility of a crocodile farm and in the shed of a water buffalo (after the tenant was evicted).
I tried to rough camp as much as possible when I was between cities. The campsites in central Africa were often the cheapest option so we used them. In countries like Ethiopia rough camping was difficult due to the amount of attention you receive so we opted for hotels which were everywhere and cost about one pound a night. Hostels in Western Europe were very expensive but it was mid-winter and so sometimes I bit the bullet. Couchsurfing.com is a travel networking website where local people put you up for free and often spend some time showing you around. It's one of the best ways to get introduced to a new city or town.
Punctures - 113
How did this happen! OK, OK... it deserves an explanation - first of all I was under-inflating my back tyre towards the start of the trip, the pump had no gauge on it, so the tubes ruptured by the valve. It took me a while to figure out the cause. The replacement Chinese made tubes were so bad they often exploded whilst I was pumping them up before I'd got them to the right pressure and they never lasted long. I got more punctures on the rough roads and some from thorns and the metal wire that comes from shredded truck tyres, both are all over the roads in Africa. I also started off using the self-sticking puncture patches that don't require glue, these all eventually failed and I ended up repairing punctures I'd fixed weeks before. Lesson learned - Go old skool.
Tyres - 8
I changed my front Schwalbe whilst I was still in the UK and could still get a replacement when a large nail pieced it after just 20 km in the outskirts of London. It goes to show Schwalbe tyres aren't invincible. I didn't get another puncture for over 5000 km. My front Schwalbe Extreme lasted 15,793 km from London to Tanzania. The back tyres tended to last about half this distance. Occasionally I had to use local tyres whilst I waited for Schwalbe ones, they didn't last long.
Chains - 3
1. KMC Gold (titanium - nitride anti-corrosion) : 14,490 km
2. Sram : 7187 km
3. Cheap local one : 1538 km
Brake pads - 6 sets
Rohloff Hubs - 2
Bike pumps - 6 (thank you China)
Spokes - All intact - No replacements required
I'm sure people develop a sort of selective memory when it comes to expenses or underestimate how much they spend. So I recorded everything except that of my biggest expense - food - as it would have got far too complicated. Clearly I could have been more thrifty but whilst I could happily put my head down anywhere for the night, I could never really bring myself to spend less on sustenance. Dinner was too important and I wasn't going to eat instant noodles every night.
- The medical expenses relate to the expensive MRI I needed on my knee in Greece.
- The card charges and commission I paid for changing money came to a painful £341.50, but what can you do?
- I spent £956 on accommodation, not too bad over 16 months and I slept for free 60% of the time.
- I didn't have a laptop with me so I had to use internet cafes. Wifi is everywhere these days and as you can see, I could have bought a laptop for the amount I spent on the net. A large proportion of this expense was because I uploaded photos onto Flickr which took time and money but which gave me piece of mind.
- The costs incurred for 'tourism' included entrance to national parks, museums, sights of interest, transport around cities, activities and tours.
- A note on VISAs... All VISAs were obtainable on the border with the exception of VISAs for Syria, Sudan and Ethiopia which had to be obtained in advance. Free entry / free VISAs included all of Europe (except Turkey), Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa
Cost of the other VISAs:
Turkey - £10
Kenya - £16
Jordan - £18 (includes departure tax)
Ethiopia - £19
Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia - all £31 each
Syria - £37 (includes departure tax)
Sudan - £107 (includes letter of intent from British embassy, VISA and registration fee)
Total on VISAs - £310
Obviously France and Italy come out top. Then Namibia and to a slightly lesser degree South Africa. Tourism was especially expensive relative to the cost of living in Jordan and Botswana.
Uganda, Ethiopia and rural Kenya and Tanzania were probably the cheapest parts. In Europe it was Albania.
Lowest temperature - Minus 19°C
2000 metres up, Corps, mid-winter in the Alps, France
Highest temperature - 56.5°C
I recorded this in sunlight, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
(note that the temperatures used on our weather forecasts are taken in the shade not in direct sunlight, although the shade temperature was still likely to be in the high 40s)
Highest body weight - 80 kg before departure (due to my training regime of pasties and beer)
Lowest body weight - 65 kg Ethiopia (due to all the crazy children and crazy mountains)
Books read - 20
Crashes - 2
Me verses motorbike in Uganda
Tyre blow out on a downhill in Tanzania
Cycle tourers I met en route - 24
Six were English, four were German, four were Swizz and the rest were a mixed bunch. About half were riding the length of Africa.
Worst book I've seen in a hotel book exchange
'Candida infection: Could a yeast infection be your problem?' - Turkey
What was your favourite blog piece? - you can vote here. To re-read pieces and remind yourself please look for the list of links in the right hand column of this blog in coloured text.
People always ask me 'what was the best bit?' Well these are five of my favourite memories...
1. My 30th birthday in Syria when a large extended family took me in and threw me an impromptu party
2. Free wheeling at over 40 km/hr on the flat for hours and covering 209 km in a day all with the aid of a magnificent tail wind, Namibia
3. Grabbing on to the back of lorries and being pushed uphill by a large group of giggling children, Ethiopia
4. Partying hard on the shores of Lake Malawi
5. Offroading through the Ethiopian wilderness
And in the name of balance - Five terrifying near misses
1. Band of youths with sticks surround our tent and demand money in the middle of the night, Egypt
2. Accidentally picking up a Black Widow spider, South Africa
3. Collision with a motorbike, Uganda
4. Mob of children throwing stones and stealing our gear, Ethiopia
5. Pack of farm dogs trying to sink their teeth into my legs, Greece
Some of my favourite photos