Victoria Falls to Cape Town: The Ultimate Africa Cycling Tour

Vanessa from the KE office was lucky enough to complete one of our most epic, classic, biking journeys: cycling from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. It m... Read more
Victoria Falls to Cape Town: The Ultimate Africa Cycling Tour

Vanessa from the KE office was lucky enough to complete one of our most epic, classic, biking journeys: cycling from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. It might be a challenge, but it’s more than worth it – here she explains why. Cycling the classic journey from Victoria Falls in Zambia to Cape Town in South Africa has always been on my bucket list since joining KE in 2011; the draw of 3 weeks to escape, the weather, the grade of cycling, Victoria Falls and the desert landscape of Namibia. A couple of years ago I completed it, and wow - it did not disappoint! Every moment was special and every part memorable, it was so much more than the cycling. Reflecting, as you do on such challenges, I’m bursting to share my highlights with you, of which there are so, so many, and a few top tips.

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Taking the Chobe River Cruise, Botswana

This was amazing and set the tone of our time in Botswana. Wildlife is truly in abundance here and it comes on only Day 2 of the holiday. Our river boat guide zipped into the reeds and quickly zoomed around identifying all sorts of perfect camera shots. From Fish Eagles, to Elephants, to Buffalo to baby crocodiles growing into 6ft+ creatures! All very close and all very exciting.

Top Tip: Don’t forget your binoculars.

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Visiting Moreme National Park, Botswana

Amazed that we wild camped next to a watering hole full of Hippos and Crocodiles! I had to remember that no-one in the ten year history of running this trip and in all of the departures have we had anyone go missing ha-ha. An overwhelming experience that brought a tear to my eye on a variety of occasions; eye to eye contact with a trio of teenage lions (a couple of arm’s lengths away), the colour of a Leopard’s coat easily identifiable given our proximity (our safari guide was so knowledgeable), and again just sitting closely watching one of the world’s most endangered animals, the African Wild Dogs with their cubs. Oh and not forgetting the abundance of Giraffe, Zebra and Hyena.

Top Tip: Buff or scarf incredibly useful as the roads into the National Park are dry and dusty. Buy some beers from Maun and treat yourself whilst reminiscing on the day’s game drives and location!

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Seeing the scenery of Sossusvlei, Namibia

Cycling towards Dune 45 as the sun rose was special. The colours of the dunes are amazing and to then hike to one of the highest was just brilliant. The view is far reaching and the colours cannot be described. It looks like I have altered on the camera, but truly I have not! Walking into Hidden Vlei reinforced the beauty of the Namibian landscape and helped with the excitement of the coming days of cycling.

Top Tip: Take care of your camera and smartphone. Sounds obvious but the sand really is fine and gets everywhere.

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Staying in incredible campsites

These are all wonderfully located (I could go through each one with specifics and each one based on star gazing – just ask!) and I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities throughout. Every camping area had its own charging point (Type M three pin adaptor works best), sink, and BBQ. Each campsite had toilet and shower blocks, most had a bar or a shop for that can of local Windhoek or Castle or bottle of red Pinotage, all had access to WIFI (except naturally Moremi) although at times quite temperamental, and you could launder every day. Except at Kanaan where water conservation is of a priority given its location. It is remote and it is wild but it does have a single toilet, a single shower and a washbasin for the dishes! 

Top Tip: Get involved in pitching your tent, taking it down or even helping with the washing up. It’s a great way to gel with your travelling companions. Also don’t forget some pegs and a washing line, the drying opportunities are immense and reduces the amount you need to pack!

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Getting to Cape Town and seeing Table Mountain

The joy and the success of seeing Table Mountain for the very first time was quite emotional. Although not the end of cycling on the holiday, it’s a key landmark to celebrate and take that ideal selfie plus fellow travellers group shot.

Top Tip: Book an extra night at the end of your holiday and take the cable car up (or walk) for another spectacular view across the roads you have cycled. Robben Island is definitely worth a visit too.

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Going through Border Crossing

For some reason I love border crossings… I think it’s the nervous energy over whether I will be granted entry. No idea why not, I don’t have a criminal record! On this trip if you’re a lover of stamps in your passport, you’ll come away with two pages full of entry and exit stamps for Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. On the Kazungula River Crossing from Zambia to Botswana, it’s one of very few places in the World where you’ll find yourself in place where several borders meet – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana & Namibia.

Top Tip: Travel an extra day at the start and pre-apply for a KAZA (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) visa giving you entry across to Zimbabwe too, all for the price of a Zambian visa. You’re also likely to beat the queue on arrival into Zambia.

Two questions I'm often asked:

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Was it tough? 

Without an active lifestyle and a love for cycling then yes, this would be super tough. If you’re comfortable being in the saddle for 100km, already have some experience of gravel riding, lead an energetic lifestyle and love a warm climate, then this is most definitely for you. Zambia and Botswana cycling is all on tarmac and virtually all flat, Namibia is all off road (with exception of Sossusvlei), dusty, often of a corrugated surface (vibrations a plenty!) with a few undulations, and South Africa is a mix of tarmac and off road, and the hilly element to the cycling itinerary.

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What money do you need to take when you go through so many different countries?

US Dollars (USD), South African Rand and Credit/Debit Card is the best form of travel currency. Virtually all of the campsites welcomed debit or credit card transactions, and if you talk to your guide they will point out the opportunities of where to withdraw cash from an ATM. Locating a Bureau de Change outside of Maun (Botswana), Windhoek (Namibia) or South Africa (Cape Town) is actually quite difficult. USD are welcomed easily in Zambia, exchanged more easily into Botswana Pula and South African Rand is equal to the Namibian Dollar in Namibia therefore can spend smoothly.

Top Tip: If you have any leftover Namibian Dollars (they cannot be used in South Africa), the campsite on the Orange River has limited resource to exchange for South African Rand! You can also use GBP, USD or EUR here too.

Bonus: make sure you check out a few exciting add-ons:

The Okavango Delta Flight – awesome to gain a different perspective on the wildlife and energy it gains from water.

Hire an Orange River Canoe – brilliant way to spend an afternoon and again another opportunity to view the land around and the life it brings to communities.

Final TOP TIP: Don’t let this trip pass you by, don’t think about it, just book it! I promise you 100% it will be one of the most rewarding cycling holidays that you will ever experience. A Trip of a Lifetime most definitely.

Do you want to know more KE's Victoria Falls to Cape Town Mountain Bike Epic? Just give Vanessa or another memeber our adventure-loving team a call on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415.


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