Our final cycle to Mount Kilimanjaro

Joburg2Kili Team photo just before we departed on our final leg cycling from Arusha to Moshi.

Yesterday we cycled our final leg of the #Joburg2Kili expedition from Arusha to Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Since leaving Johannesburg at the end of July we have covered 4650km on our Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles cycling through Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. It has been a truly incredible experience for us all with lots of ups and downs but to know that we have been able to do this to raise awareness and funds for the Qhubeka charity has made it all worthwhile.

Our final 90km ride from Arusha to Moshi was definitely one to remember. It was an overcast morning and we started our ride by visiting the International School of Moshi which is the school where the Dennis families’ children go. Some of the school kids came out to cheer us on and we had a quick stop to speak to them about our journey. From there we had to negotiate through some busy traffic and roadworks for about 20km.

Children from the ISM School that came to cheer us on as we rode out of Arusha
Children from the ISM School that came to cheer us on as we rode out of Arusha

We had two mechanical issues to deal with on our final cycle. Cam’s bike-stand had lost a screw so her back wheel was getting caught in it whenever we went over rumbles on the road. So at the 20km mark the boys helped to fix the issue. Then about halfway into the ride Warrick had a blow out on his front tyre. His front brake somehow got caught in the tyre causing the tube to burst. Thankfully we didn’t have any more issues with the bicycles for the rest of the ride which was relatively downhill and flat to Moshi.

Unfortunately, as it was overcast we weren’t able to see Mt Kilimanjaro clearly on our final cycle to Moshi but we did get a glimpse of the peak when some clouds opened up.

We managed to organise to finish our cycle into Moshi at the Union Café who work with our coffee sponsor TriBeCa. It was a perfect place to end our journey and to celebrate over a delicious lunch with some champagne and Amarula.

Celebrating riding 4650km from #Joburg2Kili for Qhubeka (powered by Tarsus)
Celebrating riding 4650km from #Joburg2Kili for Qhubeka (powered by Tarsus)

At Union Café we also met with our Mount Kilimanjaro guide, Gilbert, who works with the tour operator Soul Adventures. Warrick, Cam and Gareth will start their Mount Kilimanjaro climb on the Machame route on Monday 10th October. The trio plan to summit on the 15th October, which is The Kernes 5th wedding anniversary. They will be carrying the SPOT Gen3 GPS tracker with them so you can still track their progress on the Live Tracking page.

Warrick with the owner of Union Cafe Danford who kindly donated us some delicious Tanzanian Coffee Beans & Gilbert who will be the guide taking Cam, Gareth and Warrick up Mt. Kilimanjaro
Warrick with the owner of Union Cafe Danford & Gilbert who will be the guide taking Cam, Gareth and Warrick up Mt. Kilimanjaro

Derrick has decided not to climb after having malaria a few weeks ago as it is a big risk for him to climb at high altitude. Bobby will be visiting a friend in Arusha for a few days before flying back to the USA via Amsterdam. Bryan will be going back to Arusha where he is looking at a few options.

It has been an incredible journey for the whole team but what has made it extraordinary has been all the wonderful support we have received both in terms of donations for Qhubeka as well as words of encouragement along the way from our sponsors, family, friends and fans. We are all extremely grateful for this and would like to say a massive THANK YOU to you all.

View of Mount Kilimanjaro once the clouds cleared for us in the afternoon
View of Mount Kilimanjaro once the clouds cleared in the afternoon

An adventurous few days cycling to Arusha

The Joburg2Kili team have made it to Arusha two days ahead of schedule after three days of seriously tough cycling from Dodoma. We have decided to have one rest day here in Arusha and then we will cycle to our final destination the town of Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro on Thursday 6th October.

Our campsite at African Dreams Hotel

We spent one rest day in the capital of Tanzania, Dodoma at African Dreams Hotel who kindly let us camp on their premises. One of the highlights of Dodoma was definitely the Italian pizzeria called Pizzeria Leone l’Africano down the road from our hotel where we ended up having dinner two nights in a row as the food was excellent.

From Dodoma we had a 95km cycle to a bush camping spot marked near Mbuyuni village. We knew that from Dodoma there was a chance of having to ride along some dirt road sections as they are still busy tarring the road through to Babatie. As soon as we left Dodoma we had a dirt road section for about 20km but luckily the rest of the road was tarred and was fairly easy riding all the way to Mbunyuni Village where we needed to find a suitable bush camping spot.

We arrived ahead of Bryan who was busy in Dodoma stocking up on supplies so we found the turnoff to the local school where we planned to see if we could possible set up camp there. We struggled a bit to find someone that could speak English for us to get permission to stay at the school. Eventually we met a teacher who was able to speak some English and she indicated that we needed to visit the village office to get permission from the chief. So Warrick drove the Jeep down to the village office with the teacher to help with translating. After a bit of difficulty in terms of the language barrier, Warrick eventually managed to get the ok to camp on the school field from the chief.

Emmanuel and his brother bringing the chief of the village to view our campsite
Emmanuel and his brother bringing the chief of the village to view our campsite

We then went to setup our campsite on the soccer field and were joined by at least 100 children and adults who were very intrigued and interested in what we were doing. We were also visited by various people throughout the evening including the chief who was dropped off on a motorbike by a local called Emmanuel and his brother who spoke really good English. Emmanuel helped us to organise some firewood so we could braai and he also taught us a bit of Swahili. Warrick decided to race one of the children in a cycle race on the soccer field from one set of goal posts to the other which was lots of fun to watch and the children in the village all laughed and cheered. Gareth and Derrick were on dinner duty that night and they enjoyed teaching some of the children some English words for some of the foods they were preparing. It certainly was one of our most memorable bush camps to date and a truly authentic experience to be part of a local Tanzanian village.

Tough riding along dirt road through a mountain pass
Tough riding along a dirt road through a mountain pass for 40 kilometers

From Mbunyuni Village we planned to cycle 90km to Amarula Campsite but we ended up changing up our plans during the day which ended up making this one of our toughest and longest cycle legs of the journey. About 20km into the cycle we hit a dirt road which continued for 40km through a hectic rocky and dusty mountain pass where it was particularly tough going on our steel framed, single-speed, back-brake-pedal Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles. As soon as we hit the tar again, much to our delight, we heard from Bryan who had driven ahead to Amarula campsite that the camp was not quite what we were expecting with no electricity and only a bucket shower. As we had a lot of meat in our freezer with low battery power we needed to have electricity that night so we all decided that Bryan should rather go ahead to find a campsite or lodge in the main town Babatie which was a further 70km away. He would then have to come back to shuttle us as it was too far for us to ride before sunset but we would ride until he met up with us.

Rest point after a tough climb
Rest point after a tough climb

The plan did not go exactly to plan as it turned out that the road to Babatie is still under construction for 50km on a corrugated dirt road with a lot of climbing and so it took Bryan over 2 hours to get to the town and start finding a place to stay. As a result, we just had to continue cycling until Bryan was able to come back to meet us so we could load the bicycles and drive through to the town. We had some seriously tough climbs and shortly before sunset Warrick’s front tyre got a puncture. As we were replacing Warrick’s front tyre with a spare tyre, Bryan caught up with us much to everyone’s delight. We then loaded the bicycles onto the two cars and drove the mountainous pass through to Ango Lodge in Babatie where Bryan had arranged for us to camp. It ended up being our longest day on the bicycles close to 10 hours for only 126km.

Warrick showering in the first rainstorm of our trip
Warrick showering in the first rainstorm of our trip

The next day we packed up camp and got shuttled back to the spot where we had ended the previous day. We decided to push ahead a further 100km to get close to Lake Manyara, which would put us two days ahead of schedule. However, we had a slow start as literally 1km into the ride, Warrick’s front tyre was giving issues. We replaced the tyre and inserted a new tube and then as he rode again the tyre went flat again so we had to replace the tube once more which thankfully was a success. We had about 20km left of riding on a very corrugated dirt road and so our bicycles took a beating and by the time we hit the tar road again, Warrick’s front rim of his tyre had bent so we had to replace a spoke on his old rim and then rebuild the tyre. Thankfully the rest of the ride was relatively easy and we had no more mechanical issues. Bryan had gone ahead to arrange us a campsite. Unfortunately, the first place we had earmarked to stay on Lake Manyara wouldn’t allow us to camp so we pushed onto Zion Campsite which is on the road to Tarangire National Park. Whilst setting up our camp we noticed some heavy rainclouds building in the distance and before we knew it we had our first thunderstorm of the trip. The rain came down really hard and the boys all enjoyed having a shower in the rain.

Yesterday, we decided to push on towards Arusha for a 100km cycle. Derrick’s mom and brother had arrived the previous day and had stayed at a place on Lake Manyara for the night. Bryan went ahead to fetch them so that they could join us and follow us as we cycled towards Arusha. We had a fair amount of climbing in the first half of the ride which was hard going on our legs along with our first bit of rain whilst cycling. Bryan, Derrick’s mom and brother followed us for a while and then went ahead to Arusha to meet up with some friends of Bryan’s cousins, the Dennis Family, who have very kindly let us stay with them. We all had a wonderful dinner last night at the Arusha Coffee Lodge and we are spending one rest day here in Arusha. Derrick, his mom and brother, Gareth and Bobby have all gone on a day safari to Ngorongoro Crater whilst Warrick, Cam and Bryan relax in Arusha.

And tomorrow after cycling over 4500km from Johannesburg we will be heading through to our final destination, Moshi, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is a bit surreal but very exciting for us all.