You could say that our story started January 15, 2003 when the first Tour d’Afrique Expedition and Race departed from Cairo with 33 cyclists all geared up to spend four months cycling across Africa, but the idea for our first transcontinental tour was actually conceived years before that momentous day beneath the Sphinx.
The concept of crossing the African continent by bike originated in the late 1980’s. After co-founding Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) years earlier, Henry Gold received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to study the feasibility of producing inexpensive yet rugged mountain bikes in Africa, for African conditions, as a low-cost solution to local transportation needs. In order to market the new bicycle in Africa, Henry suggested that a bicycle race across Africa be organized, in which the participants would use the African bikes. The name of the bicycle race would be the Tour d’Afrique.
While the African mountain bike project did not reach fruition, the concept of Tour d`Afrique Expedition and Race took hold. Henry teamed up with a fellow bike enthusiast, and the two decided to create the Tour d’Afrique Race/Expedition. It took them another decade before the timing proved to be right. In true pioneering spirit, Henry and Michael de Jong went ahead with the project in 2003, amid enormous scepticism and a mountain of logistical challenges to be overcome for the project to be a success. With no guarantees they dedicated all their time and efforts to the project, and to training, not only to lead the Tour, but to cycle it as well.
The first Tour d’Afrique was a huge triumph. After 120 days – 100 of which were spent on the bike, 31 cyclists arrived on Melkbos Strand beach in Cape Town with Table Mountain in sight, hugging and congratulating each other, crying and drinking champagne. They were not only celebrating the crossing of the continent on two wheels from Cairo to Cape Town but also the establishment of the Guinness World Record for the fastest human powered crossing of Africa. More on our history can be found here.
Where We Are Today
Now, 10 years later, we have six epic tours spread around the globe following historic routes like the Silk Road, and the Orient Express. We cross continents and take clients out of their comfort zones. We have more tours in the works, and we hope these too will be life changing adventures for all who participate.
We continue to develop innovative ways to reach new clients. Our DreamTours concept took advantage of the latest trends and programming to create an interactive, social way for people to create their own tours. They share them online, with the goal of garnering enough interest that we send the creator on tour for free. Our soon-to-be-announced 7Epics concept will be yet another way that we pursue innovative ways of finding new clients.
Our mission is to create unique and intrepid cycling events for all those inspired to take up the challenge. Participants join us from a little as 10 days to as long as four and a half months – cycling across continents and in countries many might not consider cycling on their own.
About our Clients and Our Tours
Our clients range from avid cyclists and tri-athletes, to first-time adventurers and everything in between. We provide the framework of support – carrying their bags, and providing meals, sleeping facilities, and basic directions – and then leave it up to them to navigate the daily routes at their own pace. More about our services is found here.
Currently we operate on six continents and in 46 countries including eastern Europe, Central America, India, central Asia, southeast Asia, sub-saharan Africa, and other places off the beaten path. We also operate our expedition-style long distance, multi-county type tours in more typical cycling destinations like Canada, US, and western Europe.
Each of our long tours are broken up into ‘sections’ which enable people who cannot commit to multiple month tours to join and leave a tour at almost any point en route.
Our tours are about making new friends for life, by pushing one limit’s and accomplishing the common goal of cycling across a continent, a sub-continent or a country together. This goal may have seemed nearly impossible, but before you know it you are rising early in a foreign land and setting out for a day of fun, challenge and rewards on your bike.
Through the Adventure Travel Trade Association we expect to meet many people in our industry and learn from them on ways to make our tours even better – through new partnership, new friends, and the new ideas that we hope to gain.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].