Wild Things: Top 5 Cycle Safari Hotspots

How close can you get to the natural world when you take to the saddle? Here's a clue - if you know the right route to take, you won't be needing your zoom...

Best for Cheetahs: Namibia

Cheetah, Namibia Cheetah, Namibia

 

Seeing predators on the prowl is always a possibility in Etosha National Park, says Exodus' Andy Gibbins, of Namibia’s legendary reserve. “But there are also giraffes, hyena, jackals, springbok and zebra. Oh, and ostrich too…" Want more? How about a visit to the Cheetah conservation project – a world-leading research centre, allowing you to get close (ish) to the most enigmatic of big cats. “The trip’s not point to point cycling,” Andy says, “the distances are too far. So it’s up early, on the bike, finishing the ride around lunchtime. Then a vehicle transfer to the finishing point for the day." The cycling distances are manageable, with a few unpaved and often sandy roads en route to vary it up a little. “There’s always the chance to see wildlife in the wild while riding too – like oryx, kudu, and wild desert elephants. There were road signs warning about warthogs but they never troubled us!” Take me there: Cycle Namibia

Best for Lemurs: Madagascar

lemur Ring-tailed Lemur, Madagascar

 

It’s not just about the lemurs in Madagascar... But we have to admit, they are a bit of a favorite of ours. We’ll head to Lemurs' Park to encounter this island-endemic species living freely in a densely forested area. What you might not be expecting is just how dramatic this country is – we’ll explore the steamy rainforests of Ranofanama National Park on a fascinating walk with a park ranger, and – everywhere – witness the island’s intense, captivating beauty. Rare orchids, steamy mangrove swamps, lush forests and volcanic peaks fill your vision for the duration of your time here. “The diversity of scenery was quite incredible, changing dramatically from day to day,” says Exodus Head of Product Andy Ross. Visit in summer and you’ll have the option to go whale watching as majestic humpbacks pass close to the coast on their migration. Or maybe snorkelling past angelfish in a vast turquoise lagoon is more the scale you’re after. Take me there: Cycle Madagascar

Best for Birds: Costa Rica

costa-rica-bird Toucan, Costa Rica

 

If ever a nation smartly embraced the wonders of its natural bounty, it’s Costa Rica. And with good reason. Within its relatively compact borders, this Central American country is blessed with legendary wildlife, perfectly-preserved ecosystems and carefully managed national parks. Cycling along a coastal highway is so spectacular we think it should be obligatory for every visitor to this richly rewarding place. “You’ll see more variety of birds than you could ever name,” says Exodus Sales Manager Jim Carder. “The Toucans were fun. Not to forget the monkeys...” “The howler monkeys are well named,” adds Exodus' Will Shoubridge. “They sound like dogs in trees.” Sometimes cliches are true: Costa Rica really is like nowhere else on earth. You don't have take our word for it. Experience this life-affirming country for yourself. Take me there: Costa Rica Coast to Coast Ride

Best for Lions: Tanzania

lion Lion, Tanzania

 

Visit East Africa on two wheels, snaking your way through small valleys and Maasai homesteads, wildlife watching on the Serengeti, hiking the Rift Valley wall – exploring a landscape luminous with ancient history. Then, it's onward to the awe-inspiring sight of the Ngorongoro Crater, through open country where giraffe, ostrich, gazelles and elephants roam. The campsites are deeply embedded in their local communities: with proceeds going towards schooling, sanitation and water conservation for the Maasai people. You'll find them tucked discreetly alongside hippo pools, copses where lions laze away the heat of the midday sun, and the Serengeti grassland - home of zebra and wildebeest. This fertile ground is the cradle of civilisation - it's a backdrop to a trip that's alive with possibilities. And, somewhere out there, a lion will be watching. Take me there: Tanzania Cycle Safari

Best for Rhinos: South Africa

rhino Rhino, South Africa

 

“Having three safari days in Kruger National Park is the best way to experience this incredible spot,” says Product Manager David Sear. Each game drive, in vehicles specially designed to offer panoramic views, gives you a chance to see the park’s residents – elephant, rhino, giraffe, crocodiles and leopards to name a few. Then it’s time to climb on the saddle for a ride through the Golden Gate National Park. “We spotted wildebeest, mountain zebra and lots of antelope from the bike. Throughout the trip you are almost guaranteed to see baboons  and vervet monkeys while riding too,” David says, of the forests and plantations these inquisitive creatures call home. “The sound of the baboons in the forests certainly made you pedal a little faster,” he laughs. And what about that cycling? How’s the terrain? “It’s either up or down,” David says. “Yes, there are some long climbs, but you’re rewarded with 20km of freewheeling as you coast down the hills on the other side, accompanied by huge birds gliding overhead. It’s amazing.” Take me there: Cycling the Drakensberg & Kruger

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