Cycling is a hugely underrated method of traveling, especially around such beautiful landscapes as South Africa has to offer. Those who enjoy seeing the countryside up close and want to get up close and personal with South Africa will appreciate the freedom that traveling with a bicycle can offer.
As with all destinations, there are certain things you must know before traveling to South Africa. In addition, there are elements that cyclists must remember as they travel on a bicycle around the country. It’s important to be prepared for cycling tours, particularly in locations like South Africa where it isn’t considered to be the norm.
South Africa is a complex country
Like all countries, South Africa has a checkered history and that still has a residual impact on the South Africa we see today. That political landscape may not touch you at all while you’re touring the country but, equally, it might come up.
Security is also a big thing in South Africa with gates surrounding many properties. All this can make you nervous when taken alongside the crime rates. However, if you travel as a small group and don’t seek out trouble, it’s highly unlikely you’ll come across anything untoward. Traveling anywhere in the current climate comes with an element of danger, and the reality is that we can never predict we’re going to be 100% safe anywhere.
Planning is key to a good experience
You can opt for a guided cycling tour or a self-supported one. If you’re unsure of the terrain or want to enjoy your holiday without constantly thinking about the details of the plan, a guide hired from a trusted source may take some of that pressure off your shoulders. More confident and experienced tourers might be happier planning their own itinerary.
Packing for a cycling tour depends on where you’re going, not to mention the season of travel. However, it’s vital to get all your cycling-related accessories before you get to South Africa. Bicycle tours aren’t a boom industry over there and so you’ll be out of luck if you need to buy racks or handlebar bags. Equally, camping gear is scarce and only really found in the country’s larger cities.
Some tips to remember
If you’re considering a cycling tour around South Africa, it’s important to do all your research carefully and weigh up your options. These are a few tips to bear in mind:
· Dangerous animals are kept in national or regional parks, but you might encounter baboons, antelope, wildebeest and snakes amongst others. Never feed anything you meet on the road, even if they’re paying an interest.
· Most roads in South Africa are well-maintained and easy to travel on.
· Some familiar restaurant names are found in the country including KFC, Nando’s and Wimpy. There are also supermarket chains and regular markets on street corners for uncooked food.
· Bottled water is the only thing you should drink but it can be difficult to find so be prepared to drink Coca Cola or other carbonated drinks.
· Guesthouses are common and vary across the country but it’s important to phone ahead.
· Hotels may be a cheaper option but are rarer.
Touring cyclists are missing a trick if they don’t at least consider cycling around South Africa. It’s a trip that might take a lot of planning, but you get to see the stunning landscapes of the country in a way that few other tourists ever will.
If you’re nervous or want guidance, join up with a guided cycling tour instead of going it alone. Remember, always approach a new country carefully and do your research. As long as you consider your surroundings and plan ahead, you’ll have a sumptuous cycling experience.