I cannot believe that the #Joburg2Kili Expedition has been and gone and Warrick and I have just got back home to Johannesburg. However, all in all it was an incredible and challenging journey that I will remember for the rest of my life. As with any expedition there are always highs and lows and I thought I would summarise my top 5 highlights and top 5 low-lights with you.
Top 5 Highlights
Cycling through different African countries and experiencing new cultures
I really enjoyed getting to experience the different cultures and people in the countries we visited by cycling. As we were on single-speed Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles this also meant we were averaging around 18km/h and so we got to really experience life in the villages and towns we rode through. We also met a lot of locals on bicycles along the way and it was great to see how bicycles are a vital form of transport especially in Zambia and Malawi.
Camping in new places
It was always quite exciting to see where we ended up staying the night along the journey. We had earmarked a few official campsites to stay on our planned schedule but there were also a lot of nights where we had to bush camp in the middle of nowhere. In some cases, we got permission to stay on a local school grounds and other times we had some very generous farmers who let us to setup camp on their farms. My favourite official campsites on the trip would have to be Elephant Sands in Botswana and Cool Runnings in Senga Bay, Lake Malawi. My favourite “bush camp” was at a place on our way to Dodoma in Tanzania where we camped under a Baobab in the middle of the bush.
This was definitely my favourite place we visited along the journey and it was awesome that we got to spend close to 10 days cycling up north along the western side of the Lake. I particularly enjoyed getting up early in the morning to see the sunrise over the Lake, which is really spectacular.
Generosity of people along the way
We were all very blessed to meet some incredibly generous people along the way who welcomed us to stay at their homes and/or farms. A big thank you to all these wonderful people – you know who you areJ I look forward to returning the favour in the future.
On Top of Africa
Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro on my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband was definitely up there as one of my best moments of my life. It was made particularly special by the fact that our guides organised a cake and champagne for us at the summit. It was also the perfect ending to the Joburg2Kili Expedition to be on top of the roof of Africa.
Top 5 Low-lights
Man-down team mates
As with any long expedition especially through Africa there is a risk of falling ill. Both Bobby and Derrick got sick along the journey which was really tough for the whole team. Bobby fell ill whilst we were in Zambia and thankfully after visiting a clinic in Chipata he was given some medication that sorted him out. Derrick caught malaria whilst in Malawi and as a result it was too risky for him to climb Mount Kilimanjaro which was very sad especially as we had cycled all the way to Moshi but I know he will climb that “small hill” one day.
A cyclists’ worst nightmare, chafing
Despite being very religious about applying anti-chafe cream in the morning I missed a few key spots and as it turned out to be one of the hottest days we had cycling through Botswana I ended up chafing really badly. I won’t elaborate but it was very painful and took a few days to heal but thankfully that was the only issue I had with chafing for the rest of the journey.
Cycling in Tanzania – Steep climbs, road works and crazy drivers
In general, the three factors that mostly contributed to a tough day out cycling included bad road surfaces, steep climbs and wind. In Tanzania we had all three factors against us on our way to up to Moshi. One of the toughest days for me was our cycle leg from Riverside campsite to a town called Makambako where we were continuously climbing and there were road works, dirt road diversions and dangerous bus and truck drivers that would fly past us creating a dust storm around us so we couldn’t see the road ahead of us. Check out this video of us cycling on a dirt road diversion in Tanzania.
Where is the Mountain? Our Final cycle to Moshi
I had built up this expectation that on our final cycle to Moshi we would have this incredible view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, this dream did not come true as the mountain was covered in clouds and the only glimpse we got to see was a small gap in the clouds showing a bit of the peak. However, we did eventually get a decent view of the mountain when the clouds cleared in the late afternoon.
Sugar Low on Mount Kilimanjaro
On our second day hike from Machame camp to Shira Cave camp on the Machame route, I had a sugar low and felt like I was going to faint. The guides indicated that we might need to turn back and go back down the mountain but thankfully after eating some sugary treats and resting I felt better and I was able to continue hiking to Shira Cave Camp. I was very teary-eyed when we made it to camp and very relieved to be able to continue onwards to summit the mountain.