UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
northerncyclist
Posts: 11
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 6:58pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby northerncyclist » 10 Oct 2020, 7:31pm

I recently (pre covid) completed an a fairly extensive tour of Ethiopia.....to answer your original question ( I have not read through all the replies), If you are going to follow the direct route that most overlanders take Ethiopia is straightforward. You will get stoned but I found more intense stuff was away from the main route down. Around Gondar you will likely have problems but after that going south you will be mostly trouble free until well past Addis. After Awassa I am not sure as I did not cycle south of there.

My take on Ethiopia is of an amazing country not to be taken lightly. The best and the worst of the country is to be found away from the straight line most overlanders take...the food is great, the secenery truly amazing and the people mostly friendly. Stonings vary from light poor attempts, to full on attacks by as many children as there around. Sometimes a whole school playground will empty to attack you. Stonings will always come from younger children up to say 14 years of age and they sure can throw stones both the boys and the girls...think a pitcher in baseball, that is how they throw.....Random attacks by older males come by way of big sticks but these are rare and for me were more threatening than causing actual physical harm. Just to add adults in Ethiopia are protective of you and chase the children away.

I would rate Ethiopia as a great place to go but only for the experienced cycle tourist. I want to return but I would only do a solo tour and would definitely not cycle there with a female companian as I would worry too much.

djb
Posts: 176
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby djb » 10 Oct 2020, 8:34pm

Perhaps not an easy to answer question, but in all the years reading of the stone throwing thing, what is your take on the social, familial, cultural reasons for this really damn odd recurring and common practice?
I've never traveled in this part of the world, but do find it baffling, and certainly unique it seems to this region.

northerncyclist
Posts: 11
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 6:58pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby northerncyclist » 10 Oct 2020, 8:52pm

I cannot really comment on the reasons as I have only visited the country as a cycle tourist. Given the stone throwing is always from younger children and always from a group it is more like a game to them. It is strange most Ethiopians are dismissive of the problem in conversation but on the ground they see situations developing and will always help you out....Strange but for all its faults it is an amazing country to cycle.

amaferanga
Posts: 247
Joined: 31 Oct 2008, 7:03pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby amaferanga » 10 Oct 2020, 9:08pm

Kids and adults in rural Ethiopia throw rocks to control their goats. So they're well practiced.

Throwing rocks at tourists on bikes is in many cases a game, but some kids and adults are quite aggressive towards tourists. My worst experience was on a road never travelled by tourists (the back road to Lalibela) where I was chased through and out of the town my dozens of kids throwing rocks. A couple of hours later though I was welcomed into someone's home after I misjudged the distance and found myself cycling in the dark with no lights and still hours from my planned destination.

I think Band Aid has some part to play in the aggression (and much of the begging).

Despite some of the negatives, Ethiopia is by far the most interesting and spectacular country I've been to and I would love to go back one day. I've cycled round the Simien and Bale mountains, but I'd still love to visit the Danakil depression.

sanfairyanne
Posts: 23
Joined: 25 Sep 2020, 9:32pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby sanfairyanne » 11 Oct 2020, 12:10am

Ethiopia does indeed look like a beautiful country but I don't know that I could cope with people throwing stones. I lost my temper once in Tibet, I caught some kid who'd thrown a rock. I caught him as he ran across a bridge. I had him over the edge of the bridge which gave him the fright of his life as he thought I was going to drop him over 100' to the rocks below. His father or uncle saw me do this and did nothing to stop me. I know I'd never have chucked a kid over a bridge to his death, but it wound me up to the point where I was close to some form of violence. I'd like to think I taught that kid a lesson, but probably not.

MartinP
Posts: 48
Joined: 28 Oct 2008, 9:51am

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby MartinP » 11 Oct 2020, 8:33am

On that basis I would recommend you DON'T go to Ethiopia! There was a case of a French cyclist chasing a stone throwing youth back to his home in order to remonstrate with his parents... on his way out he was stabbed in the back. Not fatally but sufficient to terminate his tour. I have cycled twice in Ethiopia (yes, I went back!) and the stone throwing was a major irritant. South of Awassa particularly bad - I developed particular strategies to cope... but it is an annoyance.

sanfairyanne
Posts: 23
Joined: 25 Sep 2020, 9:32pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby sanfairyanne » 11 Oct 2020, 10:35am

I'd be keen to hear how you develop a strategy to cope with stone throwing. I was much younger when I cycled in Tibet and I didn't really know what i was letting myself in for. Stone throwing was actually quite rare for me, so if it was a near daily occurrence I'd likely want to get straight out of Ethiopia as fast as possible. Incidentally I'm guessing if you are stopped enjoying the view they don't come up and throw stones, it's only when you're a moving target?

djb
Posts: 176
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby djb » 11 Oct 2020, 3:22pm

some thoughts.
As someone who has spent a fair amount of time traveling while clearly being perceived and noticed as a "gringo", I can somewhat relate to the whole thing of being immediately identified as an outsider and clearly a rich person. Being called "gringo", especially in far off places by children (or a whole schoolyard of children) is both common and understandable where it is very rare to see "white tourists", but it is rather interesting to note that in my experiences in Latin America, there very very rarely is any aggression or actual physical threatening going on.
In latin america, being respectful to others, and especially people older than you, is a big part of the culture, so while of course there is always the possibility of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being robbed (again, as an immediately noticeable person from affluent societies) there was really never outward aggression immediately shown like you guys are describing.

could there be a family/cultural thing going on here, ie the kids are left to their own and you get the "Lord of the Flies" thing going on, little family discipline or something? It just seems very strange to me that this very widespread and not new stone throwing thing goes on. I've read of this going back decades and decades, so its certainly not a new thing.

I may be wrong, but from what I have read of cycle tourers in other parts of Africa, this doesn't seem to happen in other countries.

No matter the reasons, this seemingly widespread practice is a hell of an offputting thing, and can't imagine why one would even consider going there by bicycle.

but yes, I am very aware of how so lucky I am to have been born where I was.
We all won the lottery in this regard.

MartinP
Posts: 48
Joined: 28 Oct 2008, 9:51am

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby MartinP » 11 Oct 2020, 5:06pm

My strategies to cope with stone throwing? Nothing original- I would try and engage the youngsters with friendly waves, hellos/ sounding my 'funny' air horn. If a stone is picked up or I see stones in their hands I would point and indicate to drop them / shake my finger. Sometimes an angry shout worked really well. If a stone is thrown I would assess whether it is best to stop and tick them off (sometimes works) or just duck and cycle away fast! I carried a long broom handle which primarily was my bike stand but on occasions I swung it at kids who would run away and seemed fearful - engaging them in their language of violence which they understood. Similarly if I stopped and picked a rock up, again they would be fearful and run or at least stop throwing stones.

The stone throwing was not a daily occurrence but more a regional thing. Some days it would occur in every village I passed through other days nothing. Yes, if i am stopped and enjoying the view they don't come up and throw stones, it's only when you're a moving target

sanfairyanne
Posts: 23
Joined: 25 Sep 2020, 9:32pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby sanfairyanne » 11 Oct 2020, 7:58pm

Thanks Martin, It's nice to know that at the very least you're only stoned when moving. How thoughtful of the children to give you some respite when you're stationary. Maybe I could carve an AK-47 out of wood, this might scare them off while having dual use as a bike stand. Having said that they can probably tell a real assault rifle at a distance. I know I'm getting silly here, I suppose the important thing is to be well aware that at some point it's going to happen, if you're mentally prepared for it I think you're more likely to deal with it correctly when it happens.

MartinP
Posts: 48
Joined: 28 Oct 2008, 9:51am

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby MartinP » 11 Oct 2020, 8:19pm

Exactly, the most important strategy is to develop a positive mental attitude - don't let the little [rude word removed] grind you down!!
On the other hand I do like the idea of the AK47... or maybe the M16 is more recognizable...!!!
Seriously though don't let the odd idiot stone thrower put you off experiencing a spectacular country

Bmblbzzz
Posts: 3574
Joined: 18 May 2012, 7:56pm
Location: From here to there.

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 11 Oct 2020, 10:03pm

Offbeat suggestion if Africa is impossible but you see something culturally and geographically challenging: tour of the Arctic Circle concentrating on Inuit and Sami areas?

sanfairyanne
Posts: 23
Joined: 25 Sep 2020, 9:32pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby sanfairyanne » 11 Oct 2020, 11:30pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:Offbeat suggestion if Africa is impossible but you see something culturally and geographically challenging: tour of the Arctic Circle concentrating on Inuit and Sami areas?

I think I'm right in saying the Sami are predominantly found in Finland, I've been there and I can't say I was enthusiastic about the place. My knowledge of Inuit is highly limited, they're found in Canada ? Yes indeed Canada would appeal to some extent, though I tend to prefer to cycle somewhere rather than have to get a plane with my bicycle. I'm also banned from North America (they found out I worked for an African dictator), so I can't go to Alaska. I think I'm happy to wait out Covid and when we have this pandemic under control I believe I'd be more likely to push on down the west coast of Africa.

Bmblbzzz
Posts: 3574
Joined: 18 May 2012, 7:56pm
Location: From here to there.

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 11 Oct 2020, 11:45pm

To the best of my knowledge the Inuit live all round the Arctic apart from Scandinavia. I've never been to Finland but know a few people who've been there and all have been keen on it; in fact one of my former colleagues, several jobs ago, moved there! But obviously that doesn't mean anyone else has to like it.

djb
Posts: 176
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: UK to Cape Town is it viable?

Postby djb » 12 Oct 2020, 1:07am

just so its clear, where the Inuit live in the north here, it isnt biking viable. Most places/communities are fly in only. A whole other kettle of fish.