I recorded various bits of useful and useless information as I traveled, mostly out of boredom but also because I thought that someone planning a similar trip to mine could benefit from some numbers. I made a note of the finances to remind myself how much I’m spending or rather to remind myself how much I need to stop spending, and I noted down where I slept each night. Here you go….

The bare facts
London to the Cape Town

23,215 km / 14,425 miles
27 Countries in 3 continents
1 year and 4 months on the road
Route and distances

Route: UK, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.

Europe (London to Istanbul)
5010 km over 4 months

The Middle East (Istanbul to Cairo)
3236 km over 2 and a half months

Africa (Cairo to Cape Town)
14,969 km over 9 months

Paved roads – 20,933 km
Unpaved – 2282 km (mostly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia)

Top altitude – 3050 metres – north of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Top speed – 75 km/hr (coming into Iskenderun, Turkey)

Biggest climb
The shores of the Dead Sea to the King’s highway, Jordan.
From 400 below sea level to 1300 metres above
Continuous ascent for 55 km and 1700 vertical metres
(although this is nothing compared to what’s coming up in South America)

Longest distance cycled in one day – 209 km 
Southern Namibia to the South African border (strong tailwind and lots of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk)

Shortest distance in one full day of cycling – 47 km 
The remote Turkana region of Northern Kenya (lots of sand and lots of pushing)

Highest average speed over a day – 28.5 km/hr, Namibia
Lowest average speed over a day – 7.4 km/hr, Kenya

Longest stay in one place – 23 days – Istanbul


‘Other’ included churches, schools, hospitals, police stations, monasteries, convents, derelict castles, catholic missions, tourist information centres, rough on the beach, in a water storage tank, in the research facility of a crocodile farm and in the shed of a water buffalo (after the tenant was evicted).

Bike bits

Punctures – 113
How did this happen! OK, OK… it deserves an explanation – first of all I was under-inflating my back tyre towards the start of the trip, the pump had no gauge on it, so the tubes ruptured by the valve. It took me a while to figure out the cause. The replacement Chinese made tubes were so bad they often exploded whilst I was pumping them up before I’d got them to the right pressure and they never lasted very long. I got more punctures on the rough roads and some from thorns and the metal wire that comes from shredded truck tyres, both are all over the roads in Africa. I started off using the self-sticking puncture patches that don’t require glue, these all eventually failed and I ended up repairing punctures I’d fixed weeks before.

Tyres – 8
I changed my front Schwalbe whilst I was still in the UK and could still get a replacement when a large nail pieced it after just 20 km in the outskirts of London. It goes to show Schwalbe tyres aren’t invincible. I didn’t get another puncture for over 5000 km. My front Schwalbe Extreme lasted an impressive 15,793 km from London to Tanzania. The back tyres tended to last about half this distance. Occasionally I had to use local tyres whilst I waited for new Schwalbe ones, they didn’t last long.

Chains – 3
1. KMC Gold (titanium – nitride anti-corrosion) :  lasted 14,490 km
2. Sram : lasted 7187 km
3. Cheap local one : lasted 1538 km

Brake pads – 6 sets
Rohloff Hubs – 2
Bike pumps – 6 (thank you China)

Spokes – All intact – No replacements required


I’m sure people develop a sort of selective memory when it comes to expenses and underestimate how much they spend. I recorded everything except that of my biggest expense – food – as it would have got far too complicated. Clearly I could have been more thrifty but whilst I could happily sleep anywhere, I could never really bring myself to spend less on food. Dinner was too important and I wasn’t going to eat instant noodles every night.
  • The medical expenses relate to the expensive MRI I needed on my knee in Greece. 
  • The card charges and commission I paid for changing money came to a painful £341.50, but what can you do?
  • I spent £956 on accommodation, not too bad over 16 months and I slept for free 60% of the time.
  • I didn’t have a laptop with me so I had to use internet cafes. Wifi is everywhere these days and as you can see, I could have bought a laptop for the amount I spent on the net. A large proportion of this expense was because I uploaded photos onto Flickr which took time and money but which gave me piece of mind.
  • The costs incurred for ‘tourism’ included entrance to national parks, museums, sights of interest, transport around cities, activities and tours.
  • A note on VISAs… All VISAs were obtainable on the border with the exception of VISAs for Syria, Sudan and Ethiopia which had to be obtained in advance. Free entry / free VISAs included all of Europe (except Turkey), Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa
    Cost of the other VISAs:
    Turkey – £10
    Kenya – £16
    Jordan – £18 (includes departure tax)
    Ethiopia – £19
    Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia – all £31 each
    Syria – £37 (includes departure tax)
    Sudan – £107 (includes letter of intent from British embassy, VISA and registration fee)

    Total on VISAs – £310
Most expensive countries
Obviously France and Italy come out top. Then Namibia and to a slightly lesser degree South Africa. Tourism was especially expensive relative to the cost of living in Jordan and Botswana.

Cheapest countries
Uganda, Ethiopia and rural Kenya and Tanzania were probably the cheapest parts. In Europe it was Albania.


Lowest temperature – Minus 19°C
2000 metres up, Corps, mid-winter in the Alps, France

Highest temperature – 56.5°C 
I recorded this in sunlight, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
(note that the temperatures used on our weather forecasts are taken in the shade not in direct sunlight, although the shade temperature was still likely to be in the high 40s)


Highest body weight – 80 kg before departure (due to my training regime of pasties and beer)
Lowest body weight – 65 kg Ethiopia (due to all the crazy children and all the crazy mountains)
Books read – 20
Most days without a shower – 8
Largest amount of Dairy Milk Chocolate consumed in one sitting – 450 grams

Crashes – 2
Me verses motorbike in Uganda
Tyre blow out on a downhill in Tanzania

Cycle tourers I met en route – 24
Six were English, four were German, four were Swizz and the rest were a mixed bunch. About half were riding the length of Africa.

Worst book I’ve seen in a hotel book exchange
‘Candida infection: Could a yeast infection be your problem?’ – Turkey

People always ask me ‘what was the best bit?’ Well these are five of my favourite memories… 

1. My 30th birthday in Syria when a large extended family took me in and threw me an impromptu party
2. Free wheeling at over 40 km/hr on the flat for hours and covering 209 km in a day all with the aid of a magnificent tail wind, Namibia
3. Grabbing on to the back of lorries and being pushed uphill by a large group of giggling children, Ethiopia
4. Partying hard on the shores of Lake Malawi
5. Offroading through the Ethiopian wilderness

And in the name of balance – Five terrifying near misses…

1. Band of youths with sticks surround our tent and demand money in the middle of the night, Egypt
2. Accidentally picking up a Black Widow spider, South Africa
3. Collision with a motorbike, Uganda
4. Mob of children throwing stones and stealing our gear, Ethiopia
5. Pack of farm dogs trying to sink their teeth into my legs, Greece

Please vote…

What was your favourite blog piece?
The beginning…Lesson oneReggae rain and a dodgy beardParanoia and pesky poochesHeartbreakThe humble fareRecovery, japery and some summer shenanigansMeltdownDoctor, soldier, vagrant, priestAin’t no valley low enoughThe promise of AfricaLucky, lucky gitsThe Nubian waySuicidal goats and helping handsFrontier passage the Jade SeaThe people of the grey bullThe city of seven hills and le pays de mille collinesThe warm heart of AfricaLets go clubbingWhere the wild things areDeserts and dessertsDay 265 – Guardian of the south free polls 
Some of my favourite photos…

South Africa
And finally – here’s a video of the Milestones. Turn up your computer volume and if you like it then you know what to do.. like it, +1 it, share it and help me get it out there…

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Comments (3)

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    Well done. Glad you sorted out the puncture issue. The tailwind assisted 200km+ freewheel sounds like fun! Look forward to next instalment.


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    Steve, meeting your Dad again a couple of weeks ago reminded me that I hadn't visited your blog for a while. Really enjoyed this post – both your views on Africa and the logistics of the trip. Good luck in South America, matt


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