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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Are you ready for adventure? Want to see one of Africa’s most beautiful cities, whilst improving your fitness? Looking for a ‘lekker’ (local slang for ‘great’) experience? Then the Cape Town Cycle Tour may be for you.
Your holiday begins in the middle of Africa’s most beautiful city, Cape Town, and takes you along one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines – on your bike, of course. You’ll need to be fairly fit – cycling should be part of your fitness routine, and you should be ok with cycling 125 km a day. Plus, you’ll have to bring your own bike to ride with the Tour, a 109 km race that attracts tens of thousands of riders from around the globe, including a number of movie stars and sports pros.
Amongst these are former England Test cricketer and Captain Allan Lamb, who has ridden in the Cape Town Cycle Tour several times and has been very vocal about how much he enjoys the event’s fun atmosphere and spectacular backdrop. Africa Travel’s small groups of no more than 10 start from the middle of Cape Town and move down through to Muizenberg and go as far south as Smitswinkel, a picturesque bay that holds the enchantment of a long gone forgotten era.
Passing through False Bay, racers then head to Scarborough, running along the Atlantic Ocean, before hitting Chapmans Peak, which has breathtaking views of Hout Bay. From there, the route continues to Suikerbossie, that takes you past Llandudno with a spectacular panorama of the spectacular Camps Bay and Clifton Beach before arriving to the finishing line in Green Point.
Depending on your degree of fitness you could finish the cycle in less than four hours, but if you are going to stop to gaze at the spectacular views it will take a while longer – and it may be well worth finishing last!
Of course, this trip isn’t just about cycling – there’s plenty of relaxing to do, too. For starters, you’ll be staying at some plush four star hotels, including the Mandyville Hotel, Jeffrey’s Bay and The Grand Daddy Hotel. In addition to guaranteed entry to the race, Africa Travel offers an escorted pre Cape Town Cycle Tour venture from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town with overnight stops at Jeffrey’s Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Heidelberg, Overberg and Hermanus – but you’ll have loads of time on your own to do whatever takes your fancy, too.
These are some of the world’s most stunning sites for natural beauty – you will see jaw dropping sunsets, rare flora and fauna, including the springbok, yellow billed ducks, seals, and if you’re lucky – you may even spot a whale or two! The imposing Table Mountain is a wonderful place for a hike, and is lush with rare succulents and plants, including South Africa’s famous rooibos, which is made into a delicious and healthy tea.
Don’t miss Cape Town’s vibrant markets, where you can shop for unusual foodstuffs, carved wooden masks and sculptures, and the beaded handicrafts and jewellery the region is known for. The city’s beautifully developed Victoria & Albert waterfront area provides a luxurious atmosphere for dining and shopping, too.
As well as flights, accommodation and tours, Africa Travel includes three meals a day (and can provide vegetarian or vegan meals on request) but do try some local delicacies too, like barbecued snoek (a kind of fish, often served with apricot sauce), local seafood curries, or if you’re adventurous, ostrich steaks. Vegetarians and vegans will love ‘slap chips’, or French fries doused in vinegar and sauce, vegetable samosas, and African pumpkin soup.
Taking place every year during the second Sunday in March, the Cape Town Cycle Tour races is now in its 40th year, and is ever-growing in popularity. Alan Lamb certainly seemed impressed with his experience:“Having ridden in four Cape Town Cycle Tour races, I can say it’s the most beautiful cycle race you will experience. The crowds are amazing and cheer you along at all points of the race and spectators light up barbecues and really make the atmosphere for all the cyclists,” he said.
Sounds pretty lekker to us!
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All images Africa Travel unless otherwise specified