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Your 12 day itinerary - find out what's happening each day as you Escape to Africa.
We leave London Heathrow bound for Nairobi.
Arrive into Nairobi and transfer to the hotel. We have the afternoon to explore the sights of the Kenyan capital and to prepare for the cycling adventure ahead of us before spending the night in a hotel.
After an early breakfast we transfer to the start of the ride which will take approx 1-2 hours depending upon traffic. From our starting point on the edge of a village we head east along tarmac roads away from the busy city and into the countryside to the east of Nairobi. The Ol Doinyo Sapuk National Park lies to the north, but we head through mainly open and rolling bush passing through the small settlements of Nguluni and Tala en route to our final destination near to the settlement of Synthiani. Our rough camp will be in the bush on the edge of the village.
Cycling distance for the day: 65km (48km of tarmac and 17km of dirt road)
After our first night in the bush we take down our tents, have breakfast and head south towards Nziu. Our route takes us along a mixture of dirt roads, tracks and reasonable tarmac roads. The landscape is open with bush and grassland around us with the Maasai walking and grazing their cattle and sheep. We pass through several towns and villages along the route with their many and diverse market stalls – these are fun to stop at and bargain for some fresh fruit or drinks. The traffic is generally light, but there are both occasional trucks and matatus (small mini buses crammed full of locals). We continue on our way to Nziu and to our rough camp out of town in the bush.
Cycling distance for the day: 78km (40km of tarmac and 38km of dirt road)
We break camp and head further south to Kalamaba with its surrounding bush -covered hills and then onto the busy town of Wote. The ride continues through a hot, semi-arid environment which in the course of the first few days you will get used to. The road is varied once again with both dirt and tarmac sections. We eventually make our way to the bustling town of Emali (a busy town with lots happening) that sits on the main highway between Nairobi and Mombasa. From here we continue our journey along a reasonable tarmac road towards the Tanzanian boarder with the majestic Kilimanjaro in the far distance towering above the arid plains. We make our way along the road for around 50km before making camp near the Kiboko River in the bush.
Cycling distance for the day: 89km (52km of tarmac and 37km of dirt road)
From camp we head through open and more barren country, which is almost desert-like (although in the wet season this is grassland for miles around). As we head south and closer to Kilimanjaro the vegetation becomes lusher. The road heads pretty straight south to the small border crossing of Oloitokitoki. This is a very quiet border crossing and shouldn’t take too long to pass through. After entering Tanzania, the route begins to climb gently along a good tarmac road as we enter the Rongai Forest. As we cross small rivers and pass through bustling little villages, we get some great views of Kenya to the north and see the great distance we have already ridden. The route undulates as we gain more altitude and the vegetation is lush and prolific. We continue on to Kamwanga where we camp for the night.
Cycling distance for the day: 82km (82km of tarmac)
Leaving Kamwanga, the tarmac ends and dirt tracks begin. The route now undulates through Maasai farmland where local tribes go about their daily business and Mount Kilimanjaro rises on our left-hand side. As we continue along to the town of Ol Molog with green fields on either side of us, the jagged peak of Mt Meru comes into view. We continue south and eventually rejoin the tarmac and begin a gentle descent towards the town of Boma Ng’Ombe, which links Moshi and Arusha.
Camp near Boma Ng’Ombe for the night.
Cycling distance for the day: 90 km (22km of tarmac and 68km of dirt road)
This morning we have a short transfer from Boma through the very busy town of Arusha to Kisongo the starting point of today’s ride.
From Kisongo the terrain is mostly flat as the road cuts through the gently rolling hills covered in scrum and bush. We cycle all the way to Makuyuni junction, 57 km where we will stop for lunch.
After a revitalising lunch we continue on the much-improved, smooth road towards Lake Manyara. It is a constant but gradual rise through savannah grassland, all the way to our campsite in Mto wa Mbu. As we get closer to Mto wa Mbu we will be able to see Lake Manyara and the lush forest in the distance across the plain. Our first view as we approach Lake Manyara National Park is spectacular, regardless of direction. To the east the Rift Valley escarpment looms up on the horizon forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. On arriving in this small but bustling village with its many playful monkeys and storks in the trees, we make our way to our campsite for the night.
Cycling Distance for the day: 105 km (very good tarmac road)
After breakfast and a good rest we start our final day of cycling towards our finishing point at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Almost immediately we leave camp we have a steep climb up the Rift Valley escarpment, from the top of which we have an amazing view of Lake Manyara National Park lying below us, the lake glistening in the sunlight and the flat open Maasai steppe stretching away into the distance. From here we continue climbing gently all the way to Karatu Town and then to the Ngorongoro Park Gate itself. As we climb and get closer to the extinct volcano and vast caldera, the landscape becomes much richer with lots of farmed plots and dense forest with many species of birds and wildlife.
We finish our cycling challenge at the park gate amongst baboons and the excitement of the prospect of safari and possibly seeing some of the big five. Here we load our bikes in the support vehicles, and transfer to our lodge perched on the edge of the caldera for the night and for a well deserved rest after an amazing bike challenge.
Cycling distance for the day: 41km
The lodge is located on the crater rim 2200m above sea level but we have access to a proper bed, shower, toilet and even a beer. It is very cold and foggy during the evenings and mornings. There are some animals found here, such as bush pigs, hyenas, zebras, and buffalos so please keep a look out.
After a good breakfast, we drive to Ngorongoro crater for our safari. Ngorongoro Crater is widely considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. 12 miles wide, 2,000 feet deep, and covering an area of 102 square miles, it is the largest intact volcanic crater on earth and home to a spectacular concentration of wildlife. We have a picnic lunch at the crater floor (beware of Black Kites snatching your lunch).
Our game drive will be around the crater floor with a chance of seeing large herds of buffalo and wildebeest, zebra, hartebeest, elephant, hippo, lions, and possibly the endangered black rhino.
After the game drive we leave the National Park and drive the three hours back to Arusha for the night.
After a free morning we make our way back to the airport for our afternoon’s flight back to the UK.
Please note: This map shows the planned route, but is subject to change before and during the challenge. Not all campsites and refreshment stops are shown. This map is only designed to give an idea of the route taken.
Problems viewing this map? View a larger version on Google Maps|.
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