A utopia for the escapist – this is Africa in a nutshell! There’s so much to see and marvel at that it’s hard to pick the best motorcycle riding routes that stretch across this vast land and cradle of humanity.
But before you rev up your engine, hear me out. The road conditions are not the best across the entire Africa. For example, riding through the countries of Kenya and Uganda can be difficult as there are plenty of bumpy, unsurfaced, and gravel roads.
So in this article, we’ll be sticking with multi-day motorcycle trips that mostly pass through tarred roads with minimum off-roading. Considering that most motorcycle routes in Africa are less frequented by tourists, you can ride your own ride.
After a journey across the Mother Continent, many adventurers start to believe in the saying “Africa changes you forever”. Is that for real?
The only way to find out is to explore the absolute best motorcycle trips in Africa.
1. South African Route
|Route Name||The South African Route|
|Length||1,670 mi (2,700 km)|
|About||An epic 18-20 day tour through stunning terrains, game reserves, mountains, and winelands. Just watch out for tricky roads!|
This is one of the best South African motorcycle tours that pass through some of the most beautiful terrains in the region. Usually, this trip starts from Pretoria and ends in Cape Town, having passed through South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
The trip is around 18-20 days long and passes through some fantastic wild game reserves like the Kruger National Park and the Addo Elephant National Park. You will also enjoy the coastal roads and stunning ocean views while riding through the Garden View National Park. Many consider it one of the most scenic rides in South Africa.
Then you pass through the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. It’s often called the Alps of Africa (there’s also a ski resort in Lesotho, I kid you not!), and from there you’ll be heading towards the southernmost tip of Africa.
The last phase of the trip takes you through the scenic vistas of Cape Wineland. A great setting to enjoy the cuisine and taste the JC Le Roux, arguably Africa’s best sparkling wine. Before you reach Cape Town, you will be riding through the thrilling roads of Chapman’s Peak Drive that hug the near-vertical mountain face.
Keep in mind that motorcycle speed limits in South African countries are pretty generous, which is both good and bad. While pushing the motorbike to its limits may feel thrilling, it can be dangerous on unfamiliar roads. To add skid to the slide, there can be unevenly tarred roads and some sections may have dirt or gravel patches.
If you like Kruger National Park and Cape Town, you can even consider merging this route with my pick #5. (Scroll down to have a look!)
2. Saharan Motorcycle Ride Through Morocco
|Route Name||Saharan Motorcycle Ride|
|Length||925 mi (1,500 km)|
|About||There’s a bunch of adventures to look forward to, but the ultimate reward is spending a night in a Sahara desert camp!|
|Difficulty||Advanced to Killer (if self-guided)|
This 9-day motorcycle adventure takes you across the beautiful vistas of the country of Morocco and through the Sahara Desert. The entire route covers around 1,000 miles. The trip starts from Marrakesh and traces the untouristed routes across the Middle Atlas Mountains with fantastic views of the gorges.
On the third day of the trip, you will enjoy the beautiful views of the lake in the city of Bin El Ouidane. After a scenic ride through cedar forests, you will witness the first traces of the desert landscape. For true adventurers, spending a night in a desert camp in the Sahara is the ultimate reward. You can also spend an extra day exploring the dunes by riding a dune buggy or a camel.
And the excitement is not over yet!
Next, you ride through the spectacular Dades Valley negotiating the hairpin bends while the vivid colors of the rocks in the Dades River gorge threaten to steal away your attention. The last phase of the ride will be through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou and a descend back to Marrakesh.
While most of the roads are paved on this route, there will be some off-roading, including minor river crossings. Since the trip will test your riding abilities, it’s best for advanced riders.
But guess what? Even if the quality of the surface comes down, the views you will enjoy are sublime.
And if you’re itching for a longer ride where southern Europe kisses Africa, you can start this tour as far north as northern Spain, then go down to Morocco and back again!
3. East African Journey Through Rwanda
|Route Name||East African Journey|
|Length||640 mi (1,030 km)|
|About||If wetlands and riding along the coast of one of the African Great Lakes isn’t enough to satiate your road cravings, an encounter with mountain gorillas could be a plus!|
|Difficulty||Beginner to Intermediate|
Rwanda is not only one of the most beautiful East African destinations but is also one of the safest African countries for solo riders.
Another unique aspect of the Rwandan journey is the interactions with the friendly locals. However, there are some restrictions while traveling to the border areas with Burundi and Uganda that you should keep in mind.
You start from Kigali city and ride into the Nyungwe forest national park and further to Lake Kivu. Riding along the perfectly curved roads around the lake is great fun. In fact, Rwanda has some of the best roads on the entire African continent.
The next stage of the route takes you to the Volcanoes National Park, giving you a chance to trek through the jungles to meet the majestic mountain gorillas. If the only apes you prefer handling are the ape hangers, skip the gorilla trekking and ride into a local village to explore their culture.
The fascinating ride continues to the Akagera National Park, the largest wetland in Central Africa. If you have never enjoyed a game drive through the heart of Africa, this is your chance to witness the big five animals of the savannah.
The ride will end in Kigali city and you spend the rest of the day exploring the vibrant markets and the art gallery. While the entire trip can be completed in 9 days, you can customize it based on your preferences.
4. Cross Egypt Motorcycle Tour
|Route Name||Cross Egypt Motorcycle Tour|
|Length||1,800 mi (2,900 km)|
|About||Seeing the land of pharaohs on a motorbike is a treat, but the only safe option is a guided tour!|
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to explore the land of the pharaohs is on a motorcycle. This 10-day cross-Egypt adventure journey, covering 1,800 miles (2,475 kilometers) is one of the best ways to enjoy the extraordinary sights of the pyramids, temples, and tombs.
In fact, the Cross Egypt Challenge ride event between Alexandria and Cairo is organized every year and participants from across the world sign up for the fun. There are minor changes in the route of the challenge every year, but you can follow the basic trail that covers the most important spots.
And why am I even talking about a guided tour specifically? Because Egypt is not the safest place in the world to travel solo. And I’m not talking about the reckless and chaotic traffic in urban areas or rough and uneven roads, even though that’s also an issue. I’m talking about things like robberies and even occasional terrorist attacks.
Be that as it may, you won’t have any problems as part of an organized group guided by professionals. And the tour is simply too good to miss out on!
The ride will start along the Gulf of Suez and at Marsa Alam, you can take a dive in the waters to enjoy reefs and the aquatic species. The roads turn dusty as you cross the rocky face of the Eastern Egyptian desert and head for the greener Nile Valley.
Ride ahead to the magnificent city of Luxor and take a tour of the ancient temples and tombs. In the next two days, you will ride to Cairo and end the trip under the shadows of the great pyramids of Giza.
But keep in mind that driving through the streets of Cairo can be a challenging experience. You may need some time to get used to the busy (chaotic might be the right word) traffic. The best season for the trip is between October and April when the temperatures are cooler. Because otherwise, you’d be in for a scorching hot and humid experience!
5. Cape Town to Victoria Falls Ride
|Route Name||Cape Town to Victoria Falls|
|Length||2,500 mi (4,000 km)|
|About||The longest ride on our list, this one requires quite a bit of stamina. Not only for being able to sit on a bike for almost a month, but also for being able to mentally process the splendor and diversity!|
Starting from the historically significant Cape of Good Hope, this spectacular South African motorcycle tour takes you to the awe-inspiring views of Victoria Falls.
The epic journey will take around 22 days (the number can vary depending on the rest days in between) and the route passes through Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa. Even though the roads are paved, it’s best suited for veterans with excellent riding endurance. Alternatively, you can also do it along the west coast of Africa and pass through Namibia.
The initial phase of the journey moves through the fantastic ocean roads through Cape Point Nature Reserve and beautiful fisherman’s cottages around Arniston. Moving ahead, you cross kloofs (that’s the Afrikaans for a “gorge” or a “steep-sided valley”) and move into the Valley of Desolation, in the semi-desert region of Great Karoo.
The next phase of the ride crosses the gravel roads at Sani Pass at around 10,000 feet. There, you’ll even get a chance to grab a bite in the highest pub of Africa! Coming down from the pass, you can head into the beachside village of Ponta Malongane. This is a rest day to optionally enjoy some scuba diving and the spicy peri-peri prawns.
From there, you cross into Swaziland and visit the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Next, be ready to enjoy the incredible views of the Panorama Route in South Africa, as you cruise through the route around the Blyde River Canyon.
It’s time to enter the Kruger National Park game reserve and get a taste of life in the African bush. Take a day off to experience a game drive in the park. It’s worth it!
The last phase of the journey crosses into Botswana and rides into the town of Kasane where the ride ends. The last day of the trip is reserved for a drive to Victoria Falls and enjoying its thunderous splendor.
6. Across the Maasai Lands in Tanzania
|Route Name||Across the Maasai Lands|
|Length||700 mi (1,150 km)|
|About||A road trip through Africa just isn’t complete unless you meet some of its indigenous cultures.|
This is a dream trip for a true adventurist that moves along the Great Rift Valley and the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater. This 8-day long ride will take you close to Mount Kilimanjaro and you will view beautiful lakes like Lake Manyara and Lake Natron. Moreover, you will also get to interact with the friendly locals and get a taste of Tanzanian culture.
Starting from the city of Arusha, you will ride to the base of the famed Mount Kilimanjaro. Don’t be too disappointed if you can’t see the mountain immediately! Despite its imposing height, it has a reputation for being a bit shy in certain weather conditions.
The next day’s ride will take you to the northern plains of Tanzania around Lake Natron. The area around the lake is the homeland of the Massai people and you can spend a day exploring their traditional lifestyle.
Then it gets even better.
You ride towards the Great Rift Valley and enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park. This is one of the best spots in Africa to observe the “Big 5” game. Spend a whole day exploring the Ngorongoro crater, the world’s largest unfilled volcanic caldera, and the spectacular wildlife around it.
The last stage of the journey allows you to enjoy strikingly beautiful sunsets around the shallow waters of Lake Eyasi. Spend the next day exploring the Burunge Wildlife Management Area around Lake Burunge and then head back to Arusha.
Remember, the roads will be rough in some parts of the route and hence this is a ride that’s best suited for veterans. Since you won’t find exact maps marking the route, it’s best to get the help of a local agency to guide you.
Bonus Tips for Riding Through Africa
Every country or region offers a unique riding experience. But Africa’s a unique kind of unique.
Here’s the thing.
You may have enjoyed riding across Europe or vast expanses of Asia, but Africa is a completely different ball game. So before planning for an African ride, make sure you have enough experience in long-distance riding under hot conditions.
If you are planning a solo trip (which isn’t always advisable), it’s best to keep an up-to-date map of the countries you will be traveling through. Lack of signage is an issue on many African roads.
Also, credit cards may be unusable in remote locations. So keep a stack of cash handy to meet the on-road expenses. I wouldn’t suggest riding at night or in low-light conditions. Both wild and domesticated animals can be an issue in some areas and result in a get-off.
Just imagine what it would be like to ride through the wild savannahs, spectacular waterfalls, vast deserts, and immense archaeological wonders.
Trust me, the reality will be even better than you can imagine.