Review: Around Africa on my Bicycle

Around Africa on my Bike by Riaan Manser
705 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-86842-351-4
Published 2007 by Jonathon Ball Publishers

The back flap reads:

“In a world first, almost incredibly, Riaan Manser rode a bicycle right around the continent of Africa. It took him two years, two months and fifteen days. He rode 36,500 km (22,500 miles) through 34 different countries.

In [this book] Manser tells the story of this epic journey. It is a story of blood sweat, toil and tears. It is a story of triumph and occasional disaster. Of nights out under the stars, of searing heat and rain, of endless miles of Africa and of pressing on and never surrendering whatever the odds.

Mostly however it is the story of one man’s courage and determination to escape the mundane and see the continent he loves and feels so much of a part of. It is the story of the human warmth he encounters, and occasionally human wrath and hostility as he crosses troubled countries and borders.”

The man that wrote the forward for this book (John Robbie) really said it well. He said, “There’s always reason to put off the dream, isn’t there? Too busy, too poor, too lazy. For most people, me included, it’s really a case of being too scared. That’s why for the majority, these fantasies remain daydreams rather than fulfilled ambitions or even attempted ones. Then we get old and regret the fact that we never went for it”.

I read that and knew I would like this book. He is right. We all put off things that we want to do because we make excuses. Because of this, we tend to admire, and envy, people who do what we think is an exciting or adventurous thing. I knew I would admire and be a little bit jealous of Riaan and his round Africa journey. So, the premise was a go.

However, the book is written in a “my journal” format, where the author obviously was trying to write to remember details about things, people and places. However, I personally (as the reader) do not need to know about every single person he meets and the when and the where of it. I don’t need to know every detail of every single border crossing. The book is 705 pages; he could have consolidated it a little!

I would prefer more information and facts about the countries he visited as well as his thoughts and impressions of these countries. I would also have liked to hear more about his feelings. He does give a little information regarding this things, but I want to know more. How did it feel to be all alone in a country that you have never been in before? Were you tired? Were you lonely? How did this affect you mentally, physically and spiritually?

Another thing that bothers me is that he seems like a huge mooch. He gets sponsorships, free gear and money (many of it from nice people who really can‘t afford it). People give him free cell phones. He loses them a bunch of times and people keep giving him new ones! He stays with people all over the place, often getting free lodging. Maybe I am being hard on him, r maybe I am just jealous, but he seems selfish. I hope that after he finished this trip and wrote this book he gave something back to the community and the people that helped him along the way.

Even though I had those few peeves, I really did like the book. Any book that involves travel and a sense of adventure is exciting to me. I can also relate, as I recently went to Africa. He talks about how nice many of the people are and I found the same to be true. I am inspired. I want to bike around my country now!

I give this book a 4/5.

NOTE: If there was a 3.5, I would do that, as I am not sure it’s of the “I really liked it” category. It’s somewhere in between “I liked it” and “I really liked it”.


  1. sounds like an interesting read. i've never been to africa, but my fiance and i are exploring options for our honeymoon : )

    found you via "for the love of blogs". hi!
    happy friday,

  2. THANK YOU for the review! I'm a voracious reader, but honestly? Sometimes a horrific picker! It's nice to have someone else's thoughts and reviews under *my* belt!

  3. In the south of Argentina, I saw quite a few long distance bikers peddling away across the hot, desolate highways....the one thought I had was, I will never do that. I feel like that type of activity attracts a certain kind of self centered person...mean and biased to say, I know. For most people, this activity would not be fun!

    I think if you wrote a book, it would kick this guys ass and sell a million copies! ;) I love your writing! Think about it!!!


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