“You’re cycling South Africa? Madness!”
“What is wrong with you people? Aren’t you worried about lions chasing you? Or being mugged? Can’t you two just doing something normal on occasion?”
Such is the reaction to the news of our cycling tour in South Africa.
Having begun our trip by swimming on the edge of Victoria Falls and ziplining over the Zambezi river (stories to follow), surely cycling in Africa now seems completely reasonable.
I will admit that as the cycling tour drew near, my no-need-to-worry replies to concerned family and friends lost some of the confident tone.
“I suggest you receive a series of rabies immunizations.” The travel doctor delivers the news as comfortably as she might suggest we pack bandaids.
Thinking myself quite clever, “Oh because of the dogs?” I feel well informed on the international sport dogs love to play scaring passing cycling tourists silly.
“Well possibly the dogs, but it’s really the baboons you need to be concerned with.”
Not being a strong cyclist, the idea of a baboon hitching a ride searching my pockets for snacks has very little appeal.
Still with all of the nay saying, this is our seventh international cycling tour with the same guides. Surely if they can get me through cycling high altitude passes in Peru, dealing with a baboon or two should be a walk in the park.
At the group meeting of the cycling tour the evening before we begin, the sixteen lovers of cycling listen intently to the description of days ahead.
“If you need to use the facilities while riding you can use the green door (the great outdoors). However do be on the watch for snakes.”
” Are the snakes poisonous?” Asks one of the wide eyed riders in the group.
“Yes. Yes they are. ”
Well that makes one think twice about the drink-plenty-of-water-while-cycling advice.
What cycling South Africa has been like for us
It seems that in my trip preparations the fact that South Africa has soaring ranges of sandstone mountains escaped me. Well what would a cycling trip be without hill climbing. Nothing like some serious sweating and gasping to make the incredible wine and beer of the country taste that much better.
Hubby appears as though he walked around the block. If he wasn’t such a nice guy I would have to kick him in the shin.
As to baboons, they scamper away in great haste at the sight of me. Or possibly the smell of me after riding in the blazing African sun. Still those baboons that are habituated to humans are to be respected. No stopping for baboon photos.
Not a single snake has been identified at any green door rest stops. Let me assure you I have examined such areas extremely carefully.
When I ask the local guide what his answer is to people saying cycling in Africa is dangerous.
“But this is South Africa and that is a different story. Still we never arrange self guided tours. We would always recommend you be with a guide.”
For us the most wonderful part of South Africa are its welcoming people. Regardless of race, we are met wherever we go with broad smiles, waves and not a moment of concern or feeling fearful. As the local children ride for stretches beside us with wide grins we see that kindness to strangers can be found world wide.