If you missed this undertaking that began on September 8th, 2019, Jonas Deichmann is attempting to break a world record; riding 18,000km from the Arctic to Cape Town. He is accompanied by the photographer and long-distance driver Philipp Hympendahl. There will be many mixed-surface roads along the way. You can read more about Jonas’ adventure at this link.
Additionally, you can view photos and diary entries from earlier:
Last day in Iran. We set out in the dark and get one of the most impressive sunrise so far when the sun comes across the mountains on an empty dessert road. We climb for 40km to a pass at 2,000 meters before descending most of the afternoon. Temperature has risen again and makes cycling tough. After 250km we reach Shiraz, the end of leg 1. Time to prepare the bike for tomorrow’s flight to Cairo and do some admin for Africa. 6,000km now complete and very excited about Africa.
Transfer to Cairo. We sleep until 8am and than stay an hour at breakfast. We pack our bikes and our Iranian friend Hossein brings us to the airport. After a stopover in Sharjah, we land at midnight in Cairo and directly cycle out of the city to avoid traffic. Africa, finally.
An Egyptian friend Helmy joins us for the first km until we reach the Nile Route. Road conditions and traffic are terrible. The road first follows the Nile. It climbs out of the valley and into the dessert. We get stopped at a police checkpoint and have to wait for an hour. They want to force us onto trucks which of course we cannot do. I call Helmy and he negotiates that we can ride but with an escort. 50km later we are stopped again. This time they want to bring us to a hotel off our route. Again Helmy helps out and negotiates a prison cell for us. We are free to leave at 04.20am.
We slept terribly as the police spoke loudly on the radio transmitter all night. At least we can leave at 04:30 am after water and chips which they brought us for breakfast. We have escorts all day and they change at each checkpoint. Luckily our Egyptian friend Helmy had a few words with them and they are super friendly and organized. The police car and crew are always ready when we arrive and leave immediately. Zero problems until the evening. In the morning we ride in the desert with a strong tailwind, averaging 45 km/h until we are back in the Nil valley where wind is weaker. After 308 km we reach a small town where we want to sleep. The police brings us to the station instead of a guesthouse. Unfortunately no one is in charge and want to take responsibility. This goes for one half an hour until I reach Helmy and he pushes for a decision. Now they escort us to the local mosque where we sleep. The mosque housekeeper is incredible friendly and brings us dinner. Good to have a decent night of sleep after yesterday’s prison cell.
At 5am the police escort collects us and follows us along the Nile. After 30 km we reach the first checkpoint where they are supposed to switch. Unfortunately, Mahmoud the checkpoint commander is sleeping and no one dares to wake him or take responsibility. 50 minutes later we can continue cycling with a new escort. We just cycle a few km until a new checkpoint with a similar leadership issue. I had enough and call our friend Helmy who intervenes. It worked and we cycle smoothly the remainder of the day.
Outside of Luxor the police suddenly turns off and we continue alone. It’s a tourist hotspot and apparently considered safe. We continue along the Nile to the village of Al Aydah where get invited to sleep in the mosque. The major and city council all come to invite us for tea. Wonderful hospitality.
Philipp wakes up with food poisoning. We ride out of the village and immediately into the Sahara. He feels weak but we continue riding as we want to get to Aswan before noon. After two hours we stop at the hut of a local tribesman. He gives us water and Philipp rests in the shadows.
He feels too weak to continue riding and goes by Taxi to Aswan to a hospital. I ride to Aswan in the heat at noon and struggle heavily. I drink four liters in 60 km and go to the hospital to catch Philipp. Unfortunately, the police have come to the hospital and worry too much about tourists. No one has taken care of Philipp and the only thing the police wants is for me to sign paperwork stating that they have behaved OK. I bring Philipp to a hotel where we get some rest. We marked the position on GPS from where he took the taxi, so we can take a taxi later and continue riding from there. Food poisoning takes two to three days to recover and we are head into a remote part of the sahara. Rest days are not possible as body and mind will shut down. Tough days ahead.
One of the worst days ever on my bike. Philipp decided to abandon in the morning. He is physically feeling better but the prospect of crossing the Sahara made his decision easier considering he had been suffering from day two onwards. I had out into the Sahara alone. After running low on water and suffering from dehydration, I accept Nile water from a tribesman. I get quickly experience stomach problems and suffer heavily all afternoon in the merciless desert. After 230 km I get stopped by police at a Checkpoint. I want to continue riding to Argen at the Sudanese border but they make me stay and pitch my tent at the Checkpoint. There is no food and I haven’t eaten all day; it’s loud as they are shouting around and have their radio transmitter on, making sleep impossible. While I can go to toilet, etc, there is always someone following me. When I walk two meters in a different direction immediately someone shouts “stop“. I feel like a prisoner. 100 km to Sudan and I am so looking forward to crossing that border.
When I start to set off at 4am my escort is not there and they won’t let me ride alone. One hour of negotiations and I finally set off. 250 meters later I am stopped at a military checkpoint. Different jurisdiction and they don’t let me continue. 30 minutes of further negotiations and I can continue. A strong tailwind blows me to the border and I see a long line of Sudanese waiting in the sun. The border is closed and no one knows anything. At 11am the border opens and the Sudanese storm in. Its the most corrupt border I have ever seen. The Egyptian officers make people wait until you pay to get your passport stamped. There is no water and after waiting another 90 minutes I am completely dehydrated when I finally cross to the Sudanese side. Its such a different world. Everyone welcomes me into their country and assures that this is not like Egypt. Passport procedures take five minutes and instead of corruption I am invited for lunch and tea. I had off into the desert on a small road that goes through a remote part of the Sahara with almost 1,000 km to the next city. There are no shops or anything for hundreds of kilometers and the desert heat my water supply diminishes too fast. At night I see a camp next to the road and ask for water. They are goldminers and invite me to stay. We sleep in beds that are put outside into the desert and eat a tiny portion of food. I am still hungry but know that this is everything they can afford. There is no bottled water and I am back to drinking Nile water.
Still in the dark the miners make breakfast. Tea and a few dry cookies but their hospitality is incredible. I make good progress until noon when the wind suddenly changes directions and comes at full speed from the front. It feels like I am riding at 12 kmh in an oven against a hairdryer. It sucks out my energy within minutes and I realize that I may be getting into a serious situation. I received information there is a little cafe ahead which I reach with my last energy. I am completely knocked out and rest on the floor for two hours before continuing when the wind lessens. I feel absolutely miserable with stomach issues and having eaten nothing, pushing through the night to get away from this remote stretch of the Sahara. Despite my suffering the night ride is incredible. Its full moon and the desert finally seems peaceful. After a few hours I arrive at a police checkpoint and they invite me to sleep on a bed under the stars. The invitation isn’t Egyptian police style but simply a kind gesture and I gladly accept. 260 km in the end after yesterday’s 190.
I set off before sunrise and feel miserable again. I haven’t eaten properly for three days and am still relying too much on Nile water. I find a little shop that sells cookies for breakfast but at least I can stock up on bottled water. I push against the wind but feel the lack of energy and make little progress. Luckily the road goes a bit closer to the Nile now and there are a few shops although they don’t sell any appropriate food for cyclists. At noon I am completely finished by heat and wind and sleep in a restaurant. I continue when it get a bit colder and again struggle heavily. At sunset I reach a little village that surprisingly has a hotel. When I climb the stairs I am surprised to be greeted by a Russian who is looking for gold in the desert and runs agricultural projects. We had out for dinner together and he shows me a restaurant that has delicious chicken, such a welcoming change.
I feel a bit better and head out into the dark. At sunrise the wind picks up and quickly builds into a strong headwind. The sand is blown across the road and gets into my eyes, ears, nose, simply everywhere. After 95 km with an 18km/h average I stop for a Cola and a few cookies. I continue riding with equally slow progress in the afternoon and stop at sunset in a little village. The policemen invite me for dinner and the restaurant owner offers me a bed which I thankfully accept. Only 180 km and now behind schedule. Time to get out of the Sahara and speed up again.
I wake up before my alarm since a sandstorm hits the restaurant which is essentially a shed. Sand gets absolutely everywhere. After the sandstorm it starts to rain. Just a few minutes but the locals are all happily running around, its a big gift for them. At sunrise I set off into the headwind. Quickly I realize that the landscape is changing. There are a few trees and bushes around and then the first farms. I am getting near to the end of the Sahara. I feel better today but still weak due to the lack of food the past days. Lost a few kg and my jersey is already moving in the wind. In the evening I arrive into the capital of Khartoum. There have been barely any cars so far in Sudan and now I arrive into chaos. Takes me 90 minutes into town until I find a decent hotel with an Indian restaurant where I eat three plates. I am out of the desert now and will speed up again.
Photos Days 26 to 37
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