Visiting Africa to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls and going on a camping safari in Botswana are both pretty awesome, but when you can squeeze in a cycle as well – that is surely the icing on the cake.
This is what happened in March when I went on holiday with my daughter Megan. I persuaded her to go on a 3-hour cycle ride with Bike and Saddle.
From the minute we met our guide Farai – announcing that his name means ‘happy’, presenting us with pristine mountain bikes and happy to embrace my love of cycletography, I knew we were going to have fun.
The cycle starts from the famous Victoria Falls Hotel, where we experienced our first wildlife in Africa – baboons and warthogs, happily roaming the grounds. We then headed for the bridge connecting Zimbabwe to Zambia, crossed the border and saw the most beautiful rainbow in the massive plume from the Falls. At 1708m wide and 108m high Victoria Falls (‘The Smoke that Thunders’) is classified as the largest waterfall in the world and is truly magnificent.
All around the border are cyclists completely laden with bags and boxes, transporting goods between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The strangest thing is, these bikes don’t have brakes, so to stop or slow down the cyclists literally drag their feet along the floor. They must go through a whole lot of shoe leather!
From the border we circled back into Zimbabwe and had our first refreshments at The Lookout Cafe, from where you can see the fast flowing river through the Gorges.
The trip starts with big features and then settles into a rhythm. We headed out through the National Park, down quiet roads accompanied by a few monkeys and impala. An elephant had been roaming earlier, though we didn’t see it on our trip. We stopped by the majestic Zambezi River for a short break and then by the aptly named Big Tree.
The Big Tree is probably the oldest and biggest baobab in Zimbabwe, it’s estimated age possibly 2000 years old and one of the most famous trees in the world – imagine what life that tree has seen.
Farai was keen to show us the ‘real’ Victoria Falls and took us through the townships, including seeing local craftsmen and stopping off for a very welcome cool beer at a bar off the beaten track; the owner proudly announced ‘no tourists come here’.
What struck me was how safe the roads (tarmacked or makeshift) were. The drivers are incredibly respectful, which is a good thing, given the amount of children of all ages walking home from school and playing all around us. The small children happily waved, laughing and shouting ‘mukiwa’, which we later found out means ‘whitey’!
It was a delight to meet Farai’s family and he proudly showed us his small house and friends along the way.
Coming out of the townships, we were cycling along a beautiful open road and I asked Farai where we were heading. He announced ‘we’re heading to Botswana; this isn’t part of the tour but I’m having so much fun I’m just keeping going – we’ll do a u-turn soon’. You know you are on a great trip when your guide is having just as much fun as you are. I looked around and Megan was happily cycling along, no hands. Megan is not a cyclist and to see her having so much fun just made my heart sing. At that moment both her and Farai cycled ahead of me and I took the wonderful shot of them both heading happily for Botswana, hands free. Farai got more and more excited at cycletography as the trip went on.
I love the feeling at the end of a great ride. Being outdoors, seeing different things, the endorphins. We only covered about 25km, but in the heat of the day that was plenty and what a great experience – to cycle in Africa – with all it’s scents, people and scenery. This trip was definitely All About The Ride (T-shirt as evidence) and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
So the next time you are in a new place, see if you can hire a bike for a few hours or do an organized tour – go on an adventure, open your mind and experience the delights of different cultures, people and countries.
For more blog posts from Christina visit her blog site: http://www.christinalejogadventure.com/