About a year ago, in late autumn 2017 and after 13 years of cycling through 65 countries the circle finally closed when we rolled back over the Jura into Switzerland. We covered 101,024 kilometers with the same great bicycles and sailed 18000 nautical miles (around 20000 miles) on board off different ships. We covered the entire distance overland and overseas, without boarding an airplane!
It is time to bring you dear friends and interested parties back to the latest state. Here is a short summary of our journey through the American and African continents.
In spring 2009, after 5 interesting and intensive years in the saddle and throughout many Asia countries, we left the biggest continent Asia. In the huge harbor of Busan in South Korea, the bicycles are loaded by crane into the belly of a huge container ship. The Freighter brings us in two weeks over the northern Pacific to Mexico. On the huge cargo ship we first get to know the captain and the whole crew. We are the only passengers and are treated like VIPs. In addition to a great barbecue, even a ping pong tournament and fun karaoke evenings are organized.
In Canada, we run out of money, but we do not want to go home yet, so we knock on doors at different farm in southwestern Canada and actually find quite easy work. We harvest tons of fruit and vegetables, paint facades, renovate buildings, bundle wood, do gardening and much more. This will allow us to finance the ride on our bicycles through the whole American continent.
On the way we experience an incredible and warm hospitality especially in North America and Mexico and often we are invited by locals directly from the road to their home. This created wonderful friendships that have survived to this day. This moral support always gives us the motivation to keep on traveling.
We enjoy the colorful, loud and vibrant Central America with its diverse flora and fauna sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
In South America we do not follow the Panamericana road along the Pacific coast but choose the more strenuous Andean route through the mountains. We climb with our 70kg heavy bikes almost daily 1000-1500 vertical meters up the hill followed by a very long breakneck descents into the next valley and often followed by wild and aggressive dogs. We usually stay in small villages and often walk to remote ruins, hardly visited by tourists.
In the Altiplano in the highlands of Bolivia we cycle over the Salar de Coipasa and the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt desert in the world. It follows the arduous but breathtaking lagoon route, known for its colorful lagoons, flamingos and the bubbling geyser field Sol de Manana which lies at just under 5000 meters above sea level. In 10 days we pushing a lot through sand and gravel and arrive at San Pedro de Atacames in Chile, which lies on the edge of the Atacama desert, the driest desert on earth. Across the Paso Sico we passing salt lakes, extinct volcanoes and an incomparable moonscape. Christmas 2013 we arrive in Salta, Argentina.
In the grandiose expanse of Patagonia, also called Tierra del Fuego, we brave the steady, strong blowing wind. We meet friendly gauchos, see huge and still growing glaciers and set up our tent close to a very communicative king penguin colony.
We need three years to travel from Alaska to Patagonia to the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. For our exertions we get rewarded with breathtaking scenery and unforgettable encounters with friendly and hospitable people.
We leave the American continent
After an entertaining drive through Uruguay and the south of Brazil, in December 2014, at the Santos harbor we store our bicycles for the second time in a 360-meter-long container ship. In 10 days the huge ship brings us across the whole Atlantic Ocean to South Africa.
We go ashore in Africa
Once on the African continent, we cycle along rugged coastlines through southern Africa.
We cross hot, dusty deserts, barren primeval landscapes and climb huge sand dunes.
On an exciting trip, we’re lucky and see snakes and scorpions, even geckos and chameleons. Along the way we meet many friendly and helpful locals and feel welcome by their warm smile.
In South and East Africa, we visit numerous nature parks and get to see many wildlife in various safaris. In the Okavango Delta in the north of Botswana and the world’s largest inland delta, we take a seat in a rickety dugout and explore on foot with a knowledgeable local guide the varied landscape.
Impressive are also the spontaneous encounters on the way on the bicycle where we espy elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffalos, springboks and warthogs. Our pulse goes faster as we recognize a lion’s pack in the tall grass that naps near the road in the midday heat.
In Malawi and Tanzania we load our bicycles and and all the luggage on a old-fashioned passenger ferries and cruise comfortably over the Malawi lake and the crystal clear Tanganyika lake.
At extremely hot temperatures of up to 45 ° Celsius, we cross the remote Kenya / Ethiopia border area. On sandy flats we encounter the endangered Turkana tribes and visit in the south of Ethiopia some of the colorful markets where the native peoples regularly meet and trade.
In the Sudan we camp right next to pyramids that are more than 2,000 years old. We arrive in Egypt with another ship across Lake Nasser. For safety reasons, we are often escorted by police in the fertile Nile Valley and the high contrast Sinai Peninsula, as the government is concerned about the safety of tourists.
In Israel, we pedal through the dry Negev desert and camp under a sky with millions of stars. We continue cycling to the Dead Sea, which is 400 meters below sea level and thus the lowest point of the earth.
After an interesting visit to the holy city of Jerusalem, the old city is divided into Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian quarters and the many warm invitations from locals, we continue to cycle to the Mediterranean sea.
Over the Mediterranean sea back to Europe
A bit wistful, we say goodbye to the African continent and load the bicycles in the port of Ashdod on a cargo ship that brings us across the Mediterranean to the south of Italy. This is followed by a varied drive across the Apennines, before we once again load our bikes on a car ferry that transfers to Greece.
The last stage takes us through the hilly Balkan, from Macedonia to Slovenia. We get to know a new region in Europe and experiencing incredible warmth of the local people. At the end we pedal through the densely populated and culturally exciting northern Italy and cross the beautiful French Alps and the Jura.
In the late autumn of 2017, after 2 years and 19 000 kilometers of exhausting kilometers through the African continent and the Balkans, we return to Switzerland, where everything started on May 16, 2004.
13 years we had the luck and the privilege to meet many interesting countries with different cultures and traditions. 13 years of adventure and freedom where we saw breathtaking landscapes, flora and fauna. But above all, we met countless warm, lovable, helpful and hospitable people along our long way. Without these people, we would never have got that far and we are very grateful for that.