Hello people! I am trying to write this blogpost in English, just so it will reach out to more people that can help us, or we can help them once we find a solution (will keep you posted). This is more of an informative blog and not like my normal stories.
If you don’t want to read the whole text and only find out about the different opportunities to cross to Africa, just scroll all the way down.
Just to quickly get everyone on the same page: We are cycling from Germany to Namibia (18.000 km) and are trying to find a way how to get to Africa without taking an aeroplane. We are in Istanbul, Turkey right now and it turned out that this little crossing to Africa is much more difficult than we ever imagined. Why is there no simple ferry to Egypt? I guess that would be to easy then…
We have found a handful of people that have made it without flying by cycling around Syria or Iraq. These guys cycled through Iran and Saudi Arabia. This would mean another 5000 km on top at least. Although this is not the main problem, it is not possible for Mareile to get a visa in Saudi Arabia. Women are not allowed to do sports in public. Pretty crazy, I know, but therefore not an option for us. UPDATE 27.09.19: Saudi Arabia is now offering tourist visas. Does that also mean that women are allowed to cycle through the country…?
Everyone else basically flew. I even talked to a guy that has gone around the world with his bicycle for the last 8 years. He jumped on an aeroplane for the first time to get to Africa. Not the best prospects, but we do not give up that easily.
Social Media actually helping
How did we find info’s from different cyclists? At first we found many guys on Instagram with common hashtags like: #bikeafrica or #cycleafrica. Then we started asking them some questions and this is how we heard of the ‘Cairo to Cape Cycle Club’ Whatsapp group. There are more than 200 cyclists in it, that have either travelled through Africa with their bicycles or are currently doing it. Many have been really helpful with our questions and suggested/ discussed the different options for the cross. Just message us if you want to become a part of the group.
No, there is no ferry to Egypt… (that’s what many people suggest when we tell them about our dilemma, like „oooooh thanks for that good idea, we haven’t thought of that one!“ :D). There is one ferry from Mersin, Turkey to Lebanon. But this would mean that we would have to cross through Syria, as the borders between Lebanon and Israel are closed at the moment. We are trying to find out more about the situation in Syria, as we get closer. The opinions could not be more different: Some guys say that it is insane to go to Syria, as it is still a war zone. Others say that it is much better and we could cross it in a couple of days. But don’t get me wrong: we are not on a suicide mission 🙂 UPDATE 27.09.19: the ferry between Turkey and Lebanon is no longer running.
Cruise- and freighter companies
I also contacted many cruise- and freighter companies. It seems like it is too much effort and paperwork for big cruise ships to take you across the Mediterranean because none of them would take us. It was very similar with freighter ships. Although I did find one company (www.cruisecyprus.com) that would take us from Italy to Israel. Unfortunately, we have passed Italy already and so far I cannot convince Mareile to cycle back again.…
Hitchhiking Sailing boats
I am constantly checking websites like www.findacrew.net. These kind of homepages connect matching boat and crew members all over the world. You can enter your planned trip (e.g. from Cyprus to Israel) and look for people that help you out on the boat and in return you can travel with them across the water.
Maybe we are lucky because especially in summertime a lot of Israelis sail from Israel to Cypress and back. There are also two Facebook groups for sailors from Israel where I have posted our story. We would have to find someone that likes our project and wants to help us out crossing the Mediterranean Sea. From Israel we could then cycle to Egypt! According to some other cyclists our chances would even be greater if we take a ferry to Cypress (only to south Cypress, as they are at war with the north) and try our luck on site at the harbours. And let’s be honest: Which old sailor could resist Mareile? 😉 UPDATE 27.09.19: The best times to look for a sailing boat from Cyprus to Israel is in summertime.
So now we will have to decide what we are going to do… At the end of the day if it does not work out, we will always be able to fly… We will keep you posted about our plans and how it went! Hold your thumbs for us!
If you can help us out or know of any other ideas/routes, please let us know 🙂
UPDATE 27.09.19: we have decided to fly. With the ferry to Lebanon not operating anymore and summertime ending (to hitch a sailing boat ride to Israel) we ran out of possibilities. We are really sad not to make it to Namibia without flying, but on the other hand also very happy that we finally made a decision. We can now look ahead again and our journey will continue! Tel Aviv, here we come! Why Israel? Because it was the cheapest flight (110 EUR p.P including the bike) and we wanted to float in the dead sea. We hope that it will become easier in the future. Maybe one day we can catch up this part and do it with the bicycles!
SUMMARY for the lazy ones 😉
- Cycle around the Mediterranean Sea: through Iraq and Saudi Arabia (Caution! Only possible for men, as women don’t get a visa for cycling) UPDATE 27.09.19: There are now tourist visas issued for Saudi Arabia, maybe it is also possible for women as well.
- Take a ferry from Mersin (Turkey) to Lebanon and then take the risk to cross through the south of Syria (border between Lebanon and Israel are unfortunately currently closed.) UPDATE 27.09.19: the ferry between Turkey and Lebanon is no longer running.
- Take a ferry to south Cypress (not north, as they are at war) and try to hitchhike a boat from there to Egypt or Israel at the harbours in Cypress (best time: summer)
- Check websites like www.findacrew.com to hitchhike a boat
- Post in sailing groups on facebook and find someone that likes your project
- Get new info from the ‘Cairo to Cape Cycle Club’ Whatsapp group (message us if you want to join)
- Contact cruise- and freighter ships:
- What I found out: take a freighter cruise from Salerno, Italy to Aschdod, Israel (firstname.lastname@example.org)