THE ROUTE

This is my route! I’m super excited! It’s an estimated 17,400 km and I am going to cycle all the way except for a sailboat ride from Egypt to one of the neighbouring European countries. Going through Syria and Iraq en route to Turkey at this point in time is not a particularly good idea. All in all, it will take me about one year! And, I am setting off on the 16th of June…! 

Along the way, there are places of particular interest to me – not only because of  personal fascinations and intrigues, but also because many of these places present real examples of how the climate is changing and how important the climate is for supporting life. Check them out by scrolling down the page, starting with Cape Point. No skipping! 

Also, if you don’t already know what I will do en route, click on About the project to find out and take part.

SAFETY

For the sake of the nerves of family and friends, here I should mention that the route is not set in stone. I am keeping myself updated with official and local travel advice with regards to safety and the route is subject to change in the event that this is recommended. If you have any local contacts, send them my way to help me get the best possible picture of what can be expected en route. That would be fantastic!

Remember, I have travelled on my own before on these continents, so no need to worry too much.
And yes, I’m bringing spare parts.

CAPE POINT, SOUTH AFRICA

Here, at the southwestern tip of the African continent the journey begins. What a backdrop! Rugged rocks and cliffs towering 200 meters above the sea, once carrying the name ‘Cape of Storms’ due to the number of ships that over centuries involuntary ended their voyage here. Later, this point was renamed ‘Cape of Good Hope’ because of the optimism that followed the discovery of a sea route to the East. Here, in the early years of the 20th century, you could even occasionally spot icebergs from Antarctica.

I am very sad to leave this place, this peninsula that I have called home for the last six years. I know I will miss it terribly. So much that I often wonder whether I am crazy to leave. People used to ask me why I came to Cape Town. I would reply that it was because of the diversity. Diversity in every way. In nature. Beauty. Outdoor activities. Cultures. Cuisine. The art scene. The never ending entertainment. There are just so many things you can do and experience! However, with time I have realized that these things were not the main reason for why I stayed. It is because of the people I have met. Table Mountain can be as impressive and beautiful as it wants to be, but if it wasn’t for the fact that I have felt welcomed, included, and loved I would not have made this my home. I am so grateful. If you could only see my tears now that I am writing this you would know how much you each mean to me. With nothing but love, thank you.

CAPE AGULHAS, SOUTH AFRICA

This inconspicuous rocky headland is – geographically speaking – the most southern point of the African continent, extending 150 km further south than Cape Point. This is also where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are said to meet. The actual dividing line between the two oceans fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point due to seasonal shifts in the ocean currents. From here, after breathing in the smells of the fresh ocean breeze for the last time in several months, there is only one way to go. North!

MAKGADIKGADI PAN, BOTSWANA

Once a lake the size of Switzerland, now one of the largest salt flats in the world. This is a place of contrasts. A dry salty clay crust covers this series of salt pans most of the year, restricting life to its fringes. Between January and March, if the rains have been good, the pan floods and transforms into a powder blue lake with water lapping on the pebble lined shoreline. Grass springs to life, broody flamingos arrive in the tens- sometimes hundreds- of thousands to nest. So do huge numbers of migrating wildebeest and one of Africa’s largest zebra populations – and the predators that prey on them. This is one of the continent’s great unpredictable wildlife spectacles. I will visit at a time when the massive baobab trees are surrounded by the white salt surface and their silhouettes form dramatic landscapes against the setting sun, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

MOUNT KENYA, KENYA

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa – and I am climbing it! It towers 5199 meters above sea level and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain is an extinct volcano that is estimated to have been 6500 meters high prior to being covered by an ice cap for thousands of years which eroded the top, forming numerous valleys radiating from the centre. Currently, 11 small glaciers remain. They are melting fast and are estimated to disappear within a few decades due to the changing climate. With its pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs and a selection of rare and endangered species of animals, high altitude adapted plains game and unique montane and alpine vegetation, it is said to be one of the most impressive and breath-taking landscapes in East Africa.

RIFT VALLEY PARAGLIDING, KENYA

Paragliding. My new love! And what’s better than to fly
with my friend Alan up the Rift Valley – the only geological
feature on Earth easily discernible from the Moon by
Armstrong and Aldrin!

DANAKIL DEPRESSION, ETHIOPIA

Wow. Does anything else get remotely close to this? An outlying desert area situated at a plate tectonic triple junction. This is both the hottest region on earth (by yearly average) and one of the most geologically active. It is studded with more than 30 active and dormant volcanoes, malodorous sulphur hot springs and salt canyons – most of it lying below sea level on land. Here, desert red meets sulphur lakes with yellow boiling water, salt crystallizes into small stalactites and green pools of potassium dot the landscape. Erta Ale, the most active volcano in Ethiopia is also found here. It is one of five volcanoes in the world with a lava lake, and can boast being the longest existing lava lake – active since 1906. It is also the only land volcano in the world whose crater lies below sea level. I cannot wait to explore this different planet.

PYRAMIDS OF MEROE, SUDAN

In the east of Sudan, in the desert, lies the greatest concentration of pyramids in the world. 200 and still counting, these are the remnants of the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, Meroë. The kingdom is one of the earliest and most impressive states found south of the Sahara. Around 1000 BCE, after the fall of the 24th Egyptian dynasty, the kingdom arose as the leading power in the middle Nile region – taking over and ruling much of Egypt from 712 to 657 BCE. The pyramids of Meroë are smaller than their Egyptian cousins. Some date back 4,600 years. Others have decorative elements from the cultures of Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They stood the test of time until the 1880s, when Italian explorer Giussepe Ferlini destroyed the tops of many of them in search of treasures. Found nestled between sand dunes in an arid and inhospitable terrain that makes one think of a science-fiction film set, the secluded pyramids seem to have been forgotten by the modern world, with no nearby restaurants or hotels to cater for tourists. Perfect.

RED SEA SNORKELING, EGYPT

Water! And not just any body of water. It is the world’s northernmost tropical sea and one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. I have been wanting to go since I was a little girl and saw a picture of a guy floating in the Red Sea, reading his morning newspaper. Due to high evaporation, very little precipitation, a lack of significant rivers or streams draining into the sea and limited connection with other oceans with lower water salinity, the average salinity of the Red Sea is 40 ‰ compared to the world’s seawater average of 35 ‰. More so, the sea is undergirded by the Red Sea Rift, a spreading centre between two tectonic plates. Here, the African and Asian continent slowly drift apart (1 cm per year) and the formation of a new ocean can be observed.

The Red Sea is known for its unique marine life and spectacular diving. However, this ecosystem is being challenged by several human activities. Desalination plants built to meet the need for fresh water by populations along the shores discharge warm brine and treatment chemicals that bleach and kill corals and cause diseases to the fish. This is expected to be exacerbated by the changing climate. Oil refineries and cement factories use water from the sea for cooling and heavy shipping traffic characterise this sea road between Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia. Maybe I shouldn’t wee in the sea when I go snorkelling? This thought just led me to read up on the environmental impact of peeing in the ocean. Interesting. It is ok! And I just learned that fin whales produce 946 litres of pee each day.

PYRAMIDS OF GIZA, EGYPT

Another cemetery. Perhaps the most well known? The oldest
of these pyramids, The Pyramid of Giza, is also the oldest
and the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
still in existence. It was the tallest man-made structure
in the world for more than 3,800 years. Along with the Sphinx,
these impressive and significant structures are too
fascinating to pass up.

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

This port city – once the largest and most prosperous city
in the world and the seat of science, culture and global
trading – is where I leave African ground. I will be trying
my luck as I hitchhike with a sailboat to one of the nearby
European countries. Not knowing where I will touch
European soil with my wheels is part of the fun!

BERLIN, GERMANY

My new home! This is where I will settle after ending my
journey at Nordkapp. And I have never been there! Haha.
Who knows what adventures await. Maybe I will get a
small taste during my first visit?

KNIVSKJELLODDEN, NORWAY

Nordkapp is often referred to as the northernmost point in Norway, but its
neighbouring and less spectacular Knivskjellodden actually extends
1,457 metres further north and is – again geographically speaking – Norway’s
most northern point. Just to make matters worse, both of these points are
situated on an island that is connected to the mainland by an underwater
tunnel. The northernmost point of mainland Norway and by extension
mainland Europe is located at Kinnarodden, 5,7 km further south. Maybe I
have to visit them all then, just to be sure? What’s an additional 200 km
at the end of the day?

KINNARODDEN, NORWAY

In sharp contrast to Nordkapp with its extensive tourist infrastructure
and busloads of visitors, Kinnarodden is a lonely but just as impressive
place that can only be visited following an overnight hike. Here, the
mountain plunges 240 meter into the ocean, marking the end of
mainland Norway and continental Europe. Seemingly a mandatory visit
if I want to be able to say that I have cycled across the whole
of Africa and Europe.

NORDKAPP, NORWAY

Here is where I end my 17,400 kilometre long cycle journey. On the flat plateau of a steep mountain cliff that rises 300 meters above the ocean. Surrounded by Arctic beauty. The only dry land between this outcrop and the North Pole is the Svalbard archipelago. This is where the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean meet. This is where the sun never sets in summer. This is where I am not sure that I will be able to get off my bicycle seat as my bum cheeks might have glued to it by then. This is where I know I will be overcome by emotions.