Botswana: The Elephant Highway

Botswana: The Elephant Highway

Saturday 29 Oct to Sunday 6 Nov 2022

8 days
5 days cycling
568km
Flights NOT included
Two nights camping with excellent facilities

Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the 16,000sq km of the Okavango Delta – a startling contrast between a pure desert environment and the watery mazes of lush wetlands. Combine this with the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands and the National Parks which offer the wild-life rich safaris that Africa is known, plus the thundering drama of Victoria Falls just over the border and Botswana boasts all the highlights of an African adventure. This fully supported, incredible 5-day ride on good quality roads, takes us from the safari capital of Maun, through extremes of environment and a diversity of landscape to Kasane on the edge of the Chobe River and Chobe National Park. Long cycling distances along highways travelled by freely roaming elephants, the African Bush, the heat and camping under the stars and it’s a challenge felt on many different levels - well rewarded by the experience, the camaraderie enjoyed and the funds raised for the people we support at Norwood.

Itinerary BOOK NOW
Day 1 Saturday 29 October
Overnight flight from London to Maun, Botswana with a short layover in Johannesburg.
Day 2 Sunday 30 October
Arrive in Maun, the safari capital of Botswana on the edge of the famous Okavango Delta and Moremi Game reserve. It’s been a long journey, so after a late afternoon bike fitting, it’s an early dinner and full briefing on the challenge ahead.
Hotel: Maun Lodge
Day 3 Monday 31 October • Maun to Leopard Plains, Boteti
Cycle 89km
After a wholesome breakfast, we leave Maun and head out into the heartlands of Botswana on good paved roads past the town of MTOPI and along the edge of the Makgadikgadipans National Park towards Leopard Plains and our first night – a mix of lodge and camping facilities. Leopard Plains is a working wildlife ranch on the edge of the Nxai Pan National Park with good quality facilities. The clear star lit skies of Botswana often devoid of rain 10 months of the year, makes camping extremely popular and comfortable in this part of the world with our overnight facility enjoying Wifi and a comfortable lounge/dining room. Over the planned 89km you will ride on slight inclines, gentle downhills and flat roads with a total height gain of 400m and a good chance of seeing farm cattle ranches and zebra.
Route: Strava
Hotel: Leopard Plains
Day 4 Tuesday 1 November • Leopard Plains, Boteti to Planet Baobab, Nr Gweta
Cycle 123km
Leaving Leopard Plains, it’s a long day in the saddle on good road with a lunch stop at the entrance of the Nxai Pans National Park. Heading out towards Planet Baobab, we’re cycling open national park land, entering elephant territory where giraffe, zebra and buffalo freely roam.

Reaching Planet Baobab, one of the most inventive lodges in the country, we’re in twin chalets and comfortable style safari tents, with a huge open air central lounge area to relax in and view the stars.

Route: Strava
Hotel: Planet Baobab
Day 5 Wednesday 2 November • Planet Baobab, Nr Gweta to Nata
Cycle 96km (plus 1 hr transfer to Elephant Sands)
Another long day on the bike, leaving Planet Baobab and heading towards NATA town. There’s a bonus of a great ice cream/coffee stop on the way and a cooling dip in the pool of our lunchtime stop at Nata Lodge. Refreshed, it’s a 1hr transfer to ELEPHANT SANDS, one of the main highlights of this challenge - an exceptional location where elephants and other wildlife visit the waterhole to refresh themselves at the salt lick, viewed from the safety of a relaxed public lounge area.
Route: Strava
Hotel: Elephant Sands
Day 6 Thursday 3 November • Elephant Sands, Nata to Panda Camp
Cycle 150km
There’s a big day of cycling ahead of us as we ride 150km, but the sun is at last behind us and there’s often a tail wind to help us on the way. It starts early at 7am with a few gentle ups and downs, where you may see elephant in the distance. Good, large road verges and giraffe plus Springbok beside the road and we enjoy the contrast of the last 20km cycled through huge commercial farm lands - stretching into the horizon with sun flower and food crops grown - towards the town of Pandamatenga. It’s a second night of good quality camping – the best way to experience Africa in the comfortable climate and starlit skies enjoyed most of the year. Great refreshment stops today, with a real sense of achievement from a tough day of cycling. 597m/600m of height gain over flat but slightly gentle hilly roads.
Route: Strava
Hotel: Panda Camp
Day 6 Friday 4 November • Pandamatenga to Kazangulu-Kasane
Cycle 110km
Another 7am early start today heading towards Kazangulu and Kasane. Kazangulu is the only place in the planet where four countries meet in such close proximity – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is where the Chobe River meets the mighty Zambezi River - close to Victoria Falls (one of the 7 wonders of the world). Height gained today will be in the region of 500m only, but it’s an enjoyable cycle on fast road as we aim to finish mid afternoon and celebrate our achievements.
Route: Strava
Hotel: Chobe Marina
Day 6 Saturday 5 November
With masses of optional activities to choose from, there’s an opportunity to take a safari in Chobe National Park, a day trip to Victoria Falls or a sunset cruise on the Chobe river to view the bird and wildlife. There’s so much to do in Zimbabwe /Livingstone/ Zambia; white water rafting, helicopter flights, walk with lions or bungy jumping. Visit the famous Victoria Falls bridge, watch the sunset from a steam train or have tea at the Vic Falls Hotel – historically frequented by British Royalty over the years.
Day 8 Sunday 6 November
Transfer from the hotel back to Kasane airport for the return journey home.
What’s included BOOK NOW
Airport Transfers if taking the recommended flights/meeting at the specified point and time
Twin-sharing accommodation in good quality lodges and camping on 2/3 nights. Limited singles available on request, subject to availability and at an additional charge
All meals – vegetarian - with the exception of lunches on non-cycling days. Includes Friday night celebration meal at end of ride
Bottled water, snacks and fruit available in support vehicles and aid stations through rides
Entry fee to the unique Elephant Sands
Fully supported ride with organised water/rest stops, lead rider, mechanics, support vehicles and doctor
Bike hire - comfortable, well-tuned mountain bike
Daily transfer of all luggage
FREE Norwood cycle jersey

What’s not included

International and internal flights, flying into Maun, Botswana and departing Kasane, Botswana
Airport transfers outside of the times of meeting the recommended flights
Lunch on non-cycling days
Personal cycling equipment, clothing or helmet
Travel insurance, visa, tips, gratuities, optional excursions and personal expenses
How challenging is it? BOOK NOW

This is a moderate to tough challenge on a mixture of good asphalt roads and paved secondary roads. There are some very long days in the saddle, and you must be comfortable riding up to 6-8hrs a day. The distances combined with the heat makes this a challenge on many different levels and a recommended kit list with care package will be provided. We recommend that you bring your own, comfortable saddle and train for long distance cycling.

This itinerary may be subject to change.

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