Africa offers motorcyclists the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you're interested in riding through the Sahara Desert, taking a motorcycle safari in Tanzania, or enjoying the beautiful South African coastline on a Triumph — it's all possible. Below you'll find recommended motorcycle tours in Africa, tips on what equipment and expertise you need, advice on choosing the right motorcycle tour and more. Page 2 lists tours per individual African country and region.
Bring Your Own or Rent Motorcycles?
Depending on your level of expertise and how long you plan to ride it's usually up to you whether you bring your own motorcycle, or rent one on location. Most motorcycle tour companies will be able to rent you a motorbike or help you with the paperwork to ship your own from home. If you live in Europe and plan to ride in Morocco or Tunisia, it will save you some money if you bring your own bike, but you will need quite a bit of paperwork.
If you're planning on riding solo, it may also be a good idea to bring a bike with you that you're familiar with and know how to fix. But if you're simply planning a two week motorcycle tour through Ethiopia as a one-off experience, then save yourself the hassle and rent.
What Should You Bring?
Whatever tour you book, the company will have detailed information about what you have to bring with you and what they can provide. A general list of things to bring will usually include: Motorcycle gear so you're sure to have a helmet, boots and gloves that fit you properly. If you're off-roading you'll want some kidney and back support. A camel-back drinking system is also very handy.
You will need personal medical insurance, evacuation coverage, up to date immunizations, visas and other regular requirements. Make sure you tell your insurance company that you're going on a motorcycling tour, some medical insurance doesn't cover this type of activity automatically.
Why Join a Tour?
The benefit of a tour is that you'll have a mechanic with you, which is very important in Africa since often you'll have to improvise on spare parts. Safety is a concern, especially in remote parts of Africa, and being in a group can offer more protection, especially if you get sick. Local knowledge on where to get parts, fuel (gas), food and accommodation is also very useful especially when you're out in the middle of nowhere. It's also nice at the end of a rough day of riding to have a cooked meal and a tent/hotel set up in advance.
And lastly, a support vehicle will help you with excess baggage so you can enjoy the ride without worrying about your recent purchase of a 6 foot carved wooden giraffe falling off the back of your bike.
The drawback of joining a tour is that you may be traveling with people you don't necessarily like and obviously, it's not as flexible, as your daily routes are by and large pre-determined. If you decide to do an independent motorcycling trip you must be very well prepared in advance and always consult someone who has done the trip before you.
You will always need to have experience riding a motorbike and a motorcycle license to prove it before you join a tour. In many cases, especially for desert trips, you will also need significant off-roading experience. South Africa is a great destination if you only have minimal road experience (and no off-road) since the roads are generally in good condition.
Trans-Africa Motorcycle Tours
If you have the time and a good sense of adventure (as well as humor) check out these amazing tours that cover the entire African continent:
- Kudu Expeditions offers a 4 month Trans-Africa trip from Morocco to South Africa (starts in the UK). It covers approximately 18,000 miles and you'll get to enjoy Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Dem Rep Congo, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa.
- GlobeRiders have a nice 6 week tour of Africa, riding through South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia.
The Sahara Desert
The Sahara is one of the most popular destinations for motorcyclists keen for an ultimate off-roading adventure. If you want to see what it's like, check out this YouTube video.
- Beast of Burden expedition company specializes in motorcycle expeditions across the Sahara with unique trips through Mauritania and Mali. They will organize the logistics and support for bringing your own motorcycle to Africa.
- Kudu Epeditions offer a 3 week Paris to Dakar traditional route. It's designed for all levels of skill and the company offers training for those not used to off-roading.
- Trans-Sahara Challenge, is a 2 week tour through the Shara offered by Kudu Expeditions. It covers 3,000 miles and starts in the Gambia, before heading on through Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, and Spain.
Motorcycle Rallies in Africa
Rallies are really for professionals only and you have to have a lot of experience under your belt.
The Dakar Rally
The ultimate motorcycle endurance test is of course the Dakar Rally. Sadly the event was canceled at the last minute in 2008, and for the first time in its history, the Dakar Rally will not end in Dakar, Senegal but in Buenos Aires. The race has been shipped over to South America and will run through Chile and Argentina instead. More about the Dakar Rally.
Morocco hosts a week long Rallye du Moroc in September every other year or so, with routes looping through the Western Sahara.
General information about motorcycle tours in Africa, motorcycle rallies and trans-Africa expeditions can be found on page one. Below, you'll find information about motorcycle tours in individual African countries/regions.
Morocco is great for riding both on the road and off. The Atlas Mountains offer some of the most beautiful riding in Africa, and of course there's the Sahara Desert as well. Check out these tours below for a good sampling of what is on offer, length of trips and prices involved.
- Moto Morocco offers both tailor-made and set tour itineraries for all kinds of motorcycle tours in morocco. The Rif Mountains as well as the Atlas mountains, desert and wherever else you'd like to see. Moto Morocco will also transport your bike for you from the UK to Morocco saving (at least the British public) some vacation time.
- Retread Honda Morocco offers very affordable off-road tours from September to May, for both the novice and experienced rider. Tours last from 3 - 7 nights and include the bikes (Hondas), training, hotels and more.
- Wilderness Wheels specialize in motorcycle tours in Morocco, both in the mountains and desert. Their head office is located in Ouarzazate, Morocco, about 4 hours south-east of Marrakech.
- IMT offers a 2 week tour of Morocco (starting in Southern Spain) which includes some sightseeing in Fes and Marrakech.
Motorcycle Tours in East Africa
In East Africa you can combine some great off-roading with a safari, a stay at the beach or a white-water rafting trip down the Omo River in Ethiopia.
Fred Link Tours offers Motorcycle Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania. There are 3 organized routes through Southern Kenya, Northern Tanzania and the Kilimanjaro Trail. The tours average 10 days and much of the riding is done off-road.
African Riding Adventures specialize in tours through Ethiopia. Tours can last a few days to two weeks or you can build your own custom itinerary.
Motorcycling Tours in South Africa and Southern Africa
South Africa has some of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world as well as lots of mountain passes. It's a good destination for motorcyclists who don't want to off-road. It's also very easy to organize your own self-guided tour and rent motorbikes from Harleys to Vintage bikes with side-cars. Often motorcycle tour companies will provide the bikes, 24 hour emergency assistance and help book hotels in advance. You can go on a tour for a weekend or several weeks.
Some recommended Motorcycle Tours include:
- Moto Aventures offers a 16 day tour from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, with the Long Way Down's Charley Boorman and British comedian Ross Noble. This trip has set dates (check web site), and some experience is required.
- Sama Motorcycle Tours is a family-run company in South Africa that offers tours from 5 days to 20 days (up to Botswana and Victoria Falls (Zambia). They offer both guided and self-guided tours.
- Ayers Adventures have many scheduled tours on offer covering Namibia, and South Africa.
- Due South - based out of Johannesburg offers set tours through some of South Africa's most spectacular scenery on BMW's and Can-Am Spyders. They also offer customized tours and bike rentals for those wanting to ride independently within southern Africa.
- Le Cap Motorcycle Hire is based out of Cape Town and offers several guided tours around South Africa.
- Harley Tours and Rentals enjoy riding the "King of the Road" in some of South Africa's most scenic spots. Three standard tours are available from one week to two weeks.
- Triumph Motorcycle Tours offers several 1 and 2 week tours around the most scenic parts of South Africa. They're based out of Johannesburg.
- Cape Sidecar Adventures offers you the chance to enjoy a motorcycle tour in a vintage model Changjiang CJ750. This means you can bring the kids! You can self-drive or get chauffeured for a scenic day-trip around the Cape Peninsula.
More Motorcycle Tours in Africa
In Madagascar — Madagascar on Bike
In Tunisia — Twin Tours offers several tours throughout the country including some spectacular desert rides.
In the Canary Islands, Backtrax Off-Road Motorcycle Tours offers day tours around Fuerteventura Island.
Motorcycle Trip Reports
The best advice you can get about motorcycle tours is from those who have been there and done that. The websites below are great for advice and questions you may have. Trip reports are especially important to read if you're planning your own trip.
- Horizons Unlimited is probably the best informational website out there for motorcycle enthusiasts looking to ride in Africa. Their Travelers Tales are generally funny and always extremely informative.
- Africa Trip reports from Adventure Motorcycling has lots of good trip reports from people going it alone in Africa on their bikes.
- Adventure Rider has some very active forums with questions and trip reports from motorcyclists riding in Africa right now.
- Buy and watch Long Way Down which tracks Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's epic ride from the northern most tip of Scotland to South Africa.