In 2019 I started on my human powered journey to Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro. Begin the easiest of the seven summits I was planning to climb this with a group of friends. First I just had to cross from Europe to Africa by kayak and cycle about 19.000km before getting there. To find more details go to the blog posts of this journey or scroll down below.

Handbike mayhem

For the first part I decided to team up with Frank Van Linden. We met in Belgium and wanted to share a part of our adventures together. Frank, an adventurous spirit, has a progressing muscle disease which makes him unable to walk. But he makes up for that on handbiking and lot’s of determination! We hand biked across Europe for more than 6 weeks, all the way to Gibraltar. A very special journey for me where I got to know part of the life out of a handbike and how it kinda feels being in that situation. It was a big challenge for all of us and I discovered that cycling is easy. We enjoyed every part of it and my respect for Frank grew bigger and bigger. The way he keeps on going and is able to organise for his support on the road, I learned a lot!

A whole new world

In Gibraltar our ways where about to separate and I was going to continue by bike to Tanzania. But first there was this stretch of water: the strait of Gibraltar. I was able to find a kayak and support boat to cross this busy shipping lane. Technically it’s a bit illegal to do, but with a support boat they kinda let you do. If you would block the shipping lane you will get a big problem there. Another way around all the administration hassle is to kayak from Tarifa to Ceuta. The last one is a Spanish exclave, surrounded by Morocco and on the African continent. So technically I kayaked form Spain to Spain, not needing any extra documents to arrive. The plan was then to cross into Morocco by bike which went fairly easy. The crossing of the strait took me about 6 hours, and wasn’t that easy. We could only find a sit on top kayak, not efficient at all! The current is quite strong so taking a wasn’t an option or I would miss the small Ceuta. Even pee stops I had to make while kayaking, which isn’t that bad as the waves just flushed everything away…

The open road!

Cycling in Africa was great! Morocco was beautiful and the desert was amazing. Especially with tailwinds. Once the wind turned against me it was hell! To avoid the biggest conflict areas I took a big detour (about 8000km extra) around Western Africa into Central Africa. In contrary what people would think, I never really felt unsafe cycling there. Just the cars sometimes, but I have that in almost all places in the world. People are just so kind and friendly everywhere. Corruption was annoying, but never got me into problems, although I always refuse to pay. To cycle across Africa I mainly needed to plan everything more. Getting the right visas in the right place was a bit of a hassle. So I kinda had to rush to Nigeria to get into the country in time. The border with Nigeria and Cameroon was not very pleasant, especially that was a conflict area I just couldn’t avoid and had some situations there. After months and many thousands of km’s the whole world got closed and I got stuck in Congo from where I was able to fly back to Belgium and wait out the borders to open up again.

In June 2021, more than a year later, most borders where opening up. Except for Angola, a country I really wanted to cycle. This detour would help me avoid the biggest section of the DRC, a country that is known for more difficult travel…

Still I cycled the DRC, which was really hard but so rewarding! Once I crossed the DRC the road was open to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro!

Up and up

In Tanzania I was ahead of schedule, so I took a few days off to wait for my friends and climb Mt Meru to acclimatise. A beautiful climb that gave some nice views of my next target, Kilimanjaro. When my friends arrived I cycled to the entrance gate of the park, all the way up a really steep hill for about 1000m of climbing. There I parked my bike and joined my friends the way up Africa’s highest peak. So fun to be climbing with friends, laughing and dancing together.

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