Aziz Abouainan and Adil Boudraa in Empangeni
Picture: Gugu Myeni
MOROCCAN-BORN Adil Boudraa is passing through Zululand as part of his incredible journey to visit every country on the African continent – on a bicycle.
The 26-year-old began cycling from his hometown Kenitra in Morocco in March 2016 and has travelled thousands of kilometers through Mauritania, Senegal, Zambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Gabon and now South Africa..
He arrived in Empangeni last week and was welcomed by fellow Moroccan Aziz Abouainan, who provided him with a place to stay for two nights. He had travelled via Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.
‘I used to travel a lot, even inside my country, sometimes on foot and sometimes on a bicycle. Then the idea of touring Africa on my bicycle started to build up in my mind. I thought it would be quite interesting to travel beyond the borders.
‘I had previously travelled from Morocco to Senegal to Dakar, and then I felt I could make it to the southern parts of Africa,’ Adil said.
He says he underwent some physical training at the gym and on his bicycle before he began his expedition.
His bicycle carries a massive load, which includes a bag with clothes, water bottles, a tool kit, inflatable torch, a sleeping bag and a tent, which he pitches up when fatigue or night time sets in.
‘When it gets dark I have to make a decision. When I’m not close to a city, town or village, I set up my tent in the jungle and rest.
‘I don’t stay in one place for very long. I mostly travel during daytime if I suspect there might be animals around, because they are asleep in daytime. I also change my route if I don’t feel safe,’ he said.
Adil, who has spent time with different kinds of people and tribes across the continent and sampled various cuisine, says this is all just an adventure.
Although he remains fascinated and excited about the journey that lies ahead, it has not always been smooth sailing.
‘I have contracted malaria 10 times and I was arrested twice for not having the necessary travelling documents,’ he said.
He says the most frightening ordeal was in the Congo when he was followed by a gang of men carrying swords who suspected him of diamond smuggling.
‘I thought they were going to kill me, but after they searched my belongings, they let me go.’
Despite the challenges, Adil who left home with only $300 in his pocket which he finished in Senegal, has been fortunate enough to meet good Samaritans along the way.
‘I document my journey on Facebook and that is how my family has been able to keep in touch with me. Sometimes I get people on social media who invite me to come visit them when I get to their country. I never run out of something to eat or money,’ he says.
Adil is now heading to Mozambique with his final destination being Egypt.
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