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INSIDERS AFRICATM

Exploring Africa's Wildlife And Wild Places

Biking Safaris in Africa for a Cause

by Deborah Olsen
October 16, 2014

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HOW MY CYCLING SAFARI BECAME CYCLING FOR A CAUSE

When your father is David Tett, Bushtracks president and co-founder, Africa is in your blood, and biking is a way of life. Here, David’s 13 year old son Porter, shares his impressions on biking safaris in Africa with his dad, and how that experience inspired him to fundraise for World Bicycle Relief, an organization providing specially designed, locally assembled bicycles to entrepreneurs, students and healthcare workers across rural Africa.

How much biking do you do regularly?
I go out on about three to four, two-hour rides a week, on both road and mountain bikes.

How many times have you been to Africa?
I’m not sure, but I think about five. My first trip was when I was three years old, and we were in South Africa last winter. 

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Where have you been mountain biking in Africa?
I’ve been to Mount Anderson in South Africa, Mashatu in Botswana, and Motopos in Zimbabwe.

How does biking in Africa differ from biking at home in California?
The places in Africa I’ve visited are each very different, so it’s hard to say. But generally, there aren’t as many trees compared to California, the hills aren’t as steep and gnarly and it’s a lot drier. I think mountain biking is much bigger in Africa – everyone does it, more than here. The biggest difference is when you are out biking in the bush you need to be able to change your tire – and make any repairs – yourself. You don’t want to be out there with a broken bike. Also, we always have guides with GPS with us in Africa.

Which location was your favorite, and why?
Motopos really stands out for me. It was really challenging and we rode for eight hours – riding on huge rocks and more technical stuff. We had an amazing view over the valley. We also got to ride through villages – even through someone’s garden – and the kids we met were so excited to see us. 

How is it different seeing wildlife on a bike versus in a jeep?
It changes everything knowing that a lion or an elephant might be out there with you! It’s definitely a thrill not knowing what’s out there, and it’s pretty exciting getting up close to an elephant when you’re on a bike and there’s no car between you and him. When you spot something you can get a lot closer on a bike. You can also get out on trails that a landrover can’t, and when you want to stop and take a closer look – like at a big snake our guide showed us in Mashatu – you can take as long as you like, you don’t have to worry about getting out of the way for the next landrover.

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Bikes empower students to attend school

Who is World Bicycle Relief and what are you doing to help them?
After we got home from Africa last year I was looking for a service project of interest to me, and I learned that by getting friends and family to sponsor me on a bike ride,

I could raise money toward a bike for someone in Africa, and really change someone’s life. With a new bike, a kid could go to school more, or an entrepreneur could get to the market more. So I did two sponsored rides, and I raised enough money for three bikes. 

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Did your biking experience in Africa influence your decision to help World Bicycle Relief?
Definitely it did. I know how far distances between places can be in Africa, how difficult the terrain can be, and I can picture the kids and people these bikes are helping. 

 

To learn more about World Bicycle Relief visit:

Topics: Activities and Culture, Destinations

Posted in: Activities and Culture, Destinations

AUTHOR BIO  |Deborah Olsen

Deborah Olsen is Bushtracks Marketing Director. Although she’s lived and traveled abroad, Deborah finds most of her travel inspiration at home around the dinner table, where international family and friends routinely fuel her interest in the world beyond with vivid insider accounts of off-the-beaten path places. In telling the Bushtracks story, and sharing Bushtracks remarkable adventures, Deborah hopes to ignite the same spark of wanderlust in others. Her journey to Bushtracks marketing has wound an itinerant path from her education at Duke University, the University of Paris, and the University of Washington, to a decade of marketing in the wireless telecommunications industry, and five years with Bushtracks, where she daily learns something new and wonderful about the natural world she loves exploring in her free time.