2011 Tour d’Afrique heads toward Sudan

The 2011 edition of the Tour d’Afrique got underway last week when more than 40 cyclists from all over the world set out from Cairo, Egypt on a four month long epic ride through Africa. The annual event has become a favorite amongst adventure travelers looking for a unique way to experience that continents cultural and natural wonders, while also challenging themselves physically along the way.

Each year, the Tour begins in Egypt and heads south, passing through ten countries along its well planned route. The riders spend 95 days in the saddle, with 23 rest days scattered across the schedule as well. Factor in 2 days of travel by ferry and you have 120 days of adventure that eventually culminates at the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa. All told, the journey covers nearly 7500 miles with the cyclists averaging roughly 77 miles per day.

Last Sunday, the riders hit the road for this year’s edition of the Tour, rolling past the Great Pyramids of Giza before heading out into the Sahara Desert for their first few days of the ride. Over the past week, their route has taken them to the shores of the Red Sea, past sprawling sand dunes, and along the fabled Nile River, all the way to Aswan. Once there, they boarded a ferry for a long ride across Lake Nasser, departing on the other side in Sudan, where they’ll continue their ride today. For updates on their progress so far and througout the entire Tour, check out the offical blog of the event.

The Tour d’Afrique has become the premiere adventure cycling tour in the world, but it is a little too late to join the 2011 edition, at least for the full ride. Cyclists can elect to take on various stages of the Tour, which offer a much shorter, and less expensive, but just as adventurous option for cycling in Africa. These segments are roughly 18 days in length and include such options as “The Gorge,” which runs from Khartoum to Addis Ababa or the “Masai Steppe,” which connects Nairobi to Mbeya. For an overview of the available stages, click here.

If you missed this year’s Tour but are interested in riding in 2012, keep an eye on the official website for announcement about the future of the race. Even though the riders just got underway, next year’s edition is already in the planning stages.

[Photo credit: Kristian Pletten]