We know our programs are unique and that people who would otherwise enjoy a Bicycle Africa Tour sometimes have doubts about whether they are right for them. We have collected a few thoughts that we think will help you reconsider. If your doubt isn't addressed here please write to us about it at ibike @ibike.org. Another resource for getting a sense of the program is the comment section.
Doubt 1: "The program is too strenuous."
While the programs involve outdoor physical activity and are real bicycle touring experiences, it is far from an Ironman competition. The program is designed for ordinary active people. No part of the program is a race and no one is left behind. As a practical matter, most sections work best if you can ride at a modest eight to ten miles an hour. The average day is about 40 miles, so that is a four or five hour ride. (For those who want more challenge, it is always easy to add additional activities.) We have had complete novice cyclists, who had to buy a bike and apply for their first passports, participate on the program, and have a wonderful time. A big key to enjoyment of the program is motivation, enthusiasm and curiosity, not brawn.
Doubt 2: "The program is too rustic."
Some programs have a strong element of living simply, but at most it is two weeks of minimalism and then you can return to your regular material comforts (note: some programs are very comfortable throughout). Even on the programs with the least creature comforts we stay in modern accommodations at the beginning and the end of the programs and every few days throughout the itinerary so the longevity of the deprivation is not terribly severe. A lot of the world lives simply 24/7/365, so sharing a few days of this lifestyle can create empathy, understanding and maybe spiritual growth.
Doubt 3: "The world is a hostile place."
First we are very selective about where we go. Sometimes you may see a problem in the region, but often a problem 100 miles away might as well be 10,000 miles away. We follow the news religiously and we are careful to make changes when they are warranted. Second, from our experience, a huge part of the world is not hostile -- quite the contrary. One of the great rewards of these programs is to receive the warm hospitality that we do and to experience that most of the world is not at all as it is conveyed in the media. Third, while government may be belligerent we have found citizens/people are, almost universally, extraordinarily welcoming of guests -- without regard to their country of origin or either government's policies. Experiencing this "one-world" phenomenon is very heart warming, reaffirming and rejuvenating. There is a lesson to be learned here: Peace through tourism - we need more of it - keep traveling!
Doubt 4: "It is unhealthy."
With the combination of good exercise, good sleep, good food, carefully selected water supply, and taking other precautions we have had many programs that are 100% healthy. Diligence counts for a lot. We provide guidance on this in the pre-departure materials and throughout the program.
Doubt 5: "It is unsafe."
On our feedback form we ask each participant if the felt safe. We have never had a response in the negative. We select routes, accommodations and activities that reduce risk. All the same, risk is inherent in all activities so you need to act in ways that don't elevate your risk. We provide guidance on this.
Doubt 6: "I'll be traveling alone."
Most participants come alone; some are single and some are married traveling without their spouse. Occasionally people come with friends; we have had newly wed on the program, and seasoned couples, as well. Our groups are very welcoming and inclusive so it can work in any configuration.
Doubt 7: "It too geekish, too groupie, too hardcore, too laidback ..."
The great thing about bicycle tours is how easy it is to make them what you want them to be. If you want to be gregarious you can do that. If you want to be more solitary and have time for thought and reflection, you can do that. If you want to party with the locals, you can do that. If you want to explore, talk, learn and gain insight, you can do that. On our programs no two people have exactly the same trip. While a lot of camaraderie generally develops on the trips across ages, interests and gender, you don't have to worry a lot about anyone else's travel style.
We hope you will join us on a tour soon. Please let us know if you have any questions.
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