Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does Ethiopia have single track?

Sure it does.

  • Have a look here. Movie single track simien
  • Many places are only accessible by foot. The donkey trails are good for bike riding too. And at every major road (dirt or asphalt), you can find many single track shortcuts or sideways leading you to small settlements or giving you a parallel ride to avoid the bigger road.
  • The Ibex Explore challenge has a good mixture between single track, dirt road and tar (especially on the long stretches). Although, we’ll go to very remote places. Ibex Explore has minimized stretches carrying your bike to an absolute minimum.

Is it safe to travel to Ethiopia?

Yes it is.

  • Ethiopia is already known for many years as one of the most stable countries in Eastern Africa.
  • For detailed information always check the travel advice information from your embassy or ministry of foreign affairs
  • We work with local people and guides who are continuously in touch with the towns and regions you will travel through to make sure Ibex Explore will be welcomed in the best conditions.
  • This includes that Ibex Explore will have all necessary documents, approvals and clearances to enjoy a voyage in safety.
  • Last but not least, we work with scouts, a common practice in Africa. They will look after “faranjies” visiting the country.

Does Ethiopia have mountains for cycling?

Yes, wonderful mountains, second to none.

  • The whole north of Ethiopia is caracterised by highlands. They are absolutely fabulous and definitely suitable for mountainbiking. The only thing you still need to do is bring your bicycle.
  • The highest mountains we will address are the Simien Mountains. Include picture
  • They are a World Heritage Site and include the Semien Mountains National Park. The mountains consist of plateaux separated by valleys and rising to pinnacles. The tallest peak is Ras Dashen (4,550 m); other notable heights include Mounts Bwahit (4,437 m) and Kidis Yared (4,453 m).
  • Cycling in these mountains has been something that has been done only very rarely. Ibex Explore incorporates the Bwahit Pass, as it is the highest pass we can reach by bicycle (actually pedaling and not carrying) at 4284 meter.

How about temperature / climate?

The altitude will determine much of the temperature.

  • Ethiopia stands for 13 months of sunshine, however it can rain as well. Especially during the rainy season, since all water in the Nile practically comes from Ethiopia.
  • At noon, it can be very hot. But most of the time we are above 2000 meter. Every 100 meters up, is on average 1 degree colder. Compare it with a hot summer day in Europe. Therefore, day 3 will be one of the warmest of this stage race. However with adequate drinking, it should be manageable. The night following day 5 in the Simien Mountains can be cold and windy. Even snow has been reported in the highlands, however these conditions stay very exceptional.

How difficult is the race?

It depends on your capabilities

  • For sure this is a race for highly trained riders only. However each participant with a thorough preparation should manage to do so.
  • Every day has its own challenge.
  • Some will struggle with the heat (day 3), some with the elevation (day 6), others may find the cilimbs quite heavy (day 4). Technical skills are require to cycle roads with loose rocks (day 7) or narrow single track (day 5).
  • Rest assured that a car is always following the race to make sure everybody makes it to the following camp.

If infrastructure is such a challenge in Africa, how will you organize the logistics during this race?

Ibex Explore will manage all transport and logistics from start to finish.

  • Ibex Explore shall cater all refreshments, drink and food stops for you. Also, it will provide decent meals before and after the race.
  • If you like specific cycle food, like your favourite brand of “gels”, please bring them with you. Your choice notwithstanding, our cooks will provide a varied and tasty menu assuring you of all the nutriciants you’ll need.
  • Obviously, water and soft drinks will be waiting you at the regular refreshment points. Nevertheless, carrying 2 liters of water with you after each checkpoint is mandatory for your own safety.

Is it a race or a tour?

It is a race, though you still cycle for fun.

  • We will be registering race times, since time tracking and some competiveness can add to the fun.
  • But it is no UCI official race. Hence, the Ibex Explore edition will have no price money.

How will the time registration work?

Time will be registered for 7 out of 8 rides.

  • Time will be registered for stage1 and stage 3 to 8.
  • Stage 8 is planned to be a time trial, meaning all teams will start one by one depending of their overall position.
  • For safety reasons, it is possible that the official finish and the time finish are not exactly on the same location, this to avoid racing while there will be too many pedestrians as we approach a village or town.
  • If for any reason the timekeeping system fails, wholly or partly , the organization will decide at its discretion to apply the solution and it can be used the track logged in the GPS device of each participant.
  • Cutting times will be applied only to make sure you will arrive before sunset.

Can I enter as a solo participant?

No, Ibex Explore is a race favoring team of 2.

  • Because cycle together is fun, but also because you will be in very remote places, with language you don’t master.
  • Safety will significantly increase if you race in teams of 2 persons.
  • Teams can be composed of two men, two women, or mixed man women.
  • If you happen to not find a team member, please contact us through email, so we might bring you in contact with somebody in the same situation.
  • All participants should be at least 18 years old on the day before departure.

How will we use water?

Water is a scarce resource, and we will treat it as such.

  • Ethiopia can be confronted with years without much rain. Unfortunately last year was a year of drought too.
  • Obviously we will provide liters and liters of drinking water.
  • But we will not waste water, for instance by washing our bikes with a high pressure hose.
  • Handmade showers will be foreseen in every camp.
  • Your bikes will be washed and polished manually.

Will a medic be following us?

Yes, a person with medical qualifications will join the support team for the race.

  • However, prevention is much better than cure. Make sure you start prepared for this race.
  • Also, wearing a helmet is mandatory at all times during cycling.
  • Notice that each team has to carry a first aid kit with them.
  • Ibex Explore will guarantee evacuation in case of an emergency, however this includes that each participant needs a civil liability and accident insurance (see next question).

Which insurance do participants need to have?

A valid insurance covering for civil liability and accident insurance.

  • Most of the time you can obtain this through your cycling federation.
    Detailed information will follow soon.

Why don’t we make a detour to a regular bridge on day 2?

It just brings us to these areas making this trip so exclusive.

  • Although this means a stage without cycling (and hence without time registering), we would give in on unique experiences. For instance, not crossing the valley in pure nature, missing out on some beautiful stages in Tigray, lacking the impressive views from the bottom to the tall standing Simien Mountains.
  • Also, it offers a worthy opportunity to get Africa into you and feel the real daily life far from a world of industrialization and modernization.
  • And last not but least, we would augment the risk not be adapted enough for the climate, the heat and the altitude of these stage race.

How do the local people benefit from this race?

The race will be set up with “Habeshas” (the Ethiopian people) to promote maximum sustainability.

  • Ibex Explore will engage Habeshas (locals) to accommodate for the race and work together during this stage race event.
  • Ibex Explore proposes a new kind of business development, diversifying the way tourism can be organized and nature can be explored.
  • Ibex Explore encourages local ownership and will work together with the communities on capacity building. This way participants from Ibex Explore can benefit facilities like shower and toilet during the race, and the communities win by having better facilities throughout the rest of the year.

Many people in Ethiopia are poor, what can we do?

Joining the race is already a smart idea to get involved 😉

  • The best way to help is to support in a sustainable and structural way.
    This means not just randomly distribute money and goods but passing through an organization that is trustworthy, locally embedded, having decent knowledge of the situations and proper programs to alleviate these issues.
  • Yenege Tesfa is such an NGO, with more than 15 years of credibility and experience.
    Please find more info on yenegetesfa.org.
  • Also know that Yenege Tesfa will give a live presentation how they approach challenges related to poverty, health care, education, housing, etc.
    You can even visit the organization the day following arrival in Gondar.

Where do I arrive? How do I return?

Flying is the most easy and safest way.

  • You can fly to the city of departure Axum by a domestic flight from Addis Abeba. You can also return from Gondar by a domestic flight to Addis International Airport. Domestic flights are only operated by Ethiopian.
  • With Ethiopian you can book a ticket combining your international and domestic flight at once. If you do so, you’ll just check in once, probably in your homecountry and see your luggage immediately transfered to Axum, our starting point.
  • You need to register a day before the start. So make sure to be there on time. Hotel accomodation is foreseen the night before we take off in Axum.

Where can I get my visa?

You can easily get your visa upon arrival in the airport, even at the domestic terminal.

  • Some dollars or euros in cash can be handy, since an ATM is not always available.

Why don’t we go to Ras Dejen?

Since it is not the highest point you can cycle to.

  • Ras Dashen (or Dejen) is indeed the highest peak in Ethiopia. However, from a certain point you have to carry your bike all the way up.
  • You would be able to say you have been on the highest point but you would not have cycled any higher than we are doing on day 6, making it to Bwahit pass.
  • Furtermore, the way up is the same road as the way down. Hence, you’d have to sleep twice in the same camp and it’ll take you 3 extra days.

Can I see more of the historic route?

Off course, Ibex Explore works together with www.omovalleytravel.com. Gech can arrange you a tailor-made tour or holiday either in the north or the south.