As I descend into Cape Town, it occurs to me that it is quite fortuitous that I am keeping my mind off the bumpy ride by diving into Lewis Carol’s Alice and Wonderland. Apparently I can relate to the young Alice, as she tumbles endlessly down the rabbit hole, for it seems that we are either descending very slowly or its taking forever and ever.
Ben, my fellow passenger, is a keen traveller from San Francisco, having a touch of a mid life crisis following a divorce he has been travelling for over a year and has little intention of stopping now. He informs me that Cape Town is in the grips of a year long drought; later at dinner I am informed that yes indeed there is a drought and with reservoir levels at 16% if the current situation continues the water supply will run dry come April.
Perhaps cycling through Africa at the peak of summer wasn’t my wisest decision. I hold my friends Dirk and Nikki responsible for this decision, for I shall be aiming to reach them in late February to celebrate with them as they get married. That’s my first segment of the trip, Cape Town to Harare, Zimbabwe, and the wedding is my reward. It’s always important to break any challenge into manageable segments, as the idea of the trip in it’s entirety would be a tad daunting. Fortunately for me, I don’t have a lot going on upstairs so the magnitude of this little endeavour is yet to dawn on me.
The day before my departure, I decide to walk up the iconic Table Mountain; after all you cant come to Cape Town and not scale the ominous rock formation. Table mountain is to Cape Town what Arthurs Seat is to Edinburgh, but much much more awe inspiring. Now, many a man might walk up and take the cable car down. Me? I decide to walk up from Camps Bay, following the Kasteelspoort trail on the twelve apostles side of the mountain. Its a lung burning, sweat inducing walk but a must.
As you ascend this iconic rock formation, it’s not the commanding views of the Atlantic or Lions Head, but the smell. Plodding up the trail, all I am looking at is the rocks on which to plant my hooves, but nearing the top you’re greeted by the waft of blooming summer flowers and, on looking up, just like Alice peaking through the miniature door, you see a garden like no other. There are over 1500 species of flora, many of which are unique to South Africa. I would love to see the Table’s wild flowers in full bloom in the spring. It provides a haven for birds and bees which were gorging on the sweet nectar. So much for bees dying out; they were bloody everywhere, humming away in large but pleasant swarms going about their daily chores.
I would recommend the option of walking up and the cable car down, for the six hour epic that I undertook was great but I’m cream crackered now. Lessons learned from todays exploits, Africa is bloody hot! And just like friends I want lots of H2O; I wouldn’t want my urine to be the colour of an over steeped cup of builders tea again. Heat stroke is a real risk; along with my 8000 calories, I will be chugging through a good litre of water per an hour whilst on the bike, that’s a good 10 litres a day.
All that’s left to do is start; let the adventure begin.