Cally Silberbauer cycled 6000km from Cape to Kilimanjaro, and in case that wasn’t enough, she rode her bike up Kilimanjaro!

Cally set off on her solo cycle to the rooftop of Africa in May, taking 3 months to traverse 7 countries. Cally set out on this trip solo so as to raise awareness about gender based violence, so far she has raised R32 000 for the Saartjie Baartman Centre, a safe haven for women and children from abusive situations. You can still donate via this link.

Cally’s bike setup weighed about 60kgs on average as she carried her camping gear, clothes, some food and enough spares to ensure she could fix almost any mechanical she may have (Cally was very lucky that the only issues that she had with her Rook Scout were 7 punctures over the entire 6000km).

Along her trip, Cally cycled about 100kms a day, staying at campsites, with friendly locals or at basic guest houses along the way. Many of which did not have running water or electricity, but she will be the first to tell you that this teaches you to appreciate the small things so much more and that being brought a bucket of warm water to wash can be the highlight of your day.

When Cally arrived in Arusha she swapped her Rook Scout touring bike for a Cotic Solaris mountain bike and traded her panniers for a rucksack. Kili time! Cally set off up Kilimanjaro on the 26th of August, cycling up the Kilema route to Homombo Camp at 3725 m above sea level. She spent a day acclimatising at the Horombo Camp with a hike up to Zebra Rock, an interesting phenomenon where a large rock face has become striated by black and white bands from years of water trickling down its face.

The next day Cally cycled the 10km from Horombo to Kibo Hut climbing another 1000 m. Kibo Camp is the Base Camp of Kilimanjaro from which summit attempts are made. After a few hour’s sleep, Cally and the crew awoke at 11:30 pm to begin the hike to Uhuru Peak. With strict instructions from the guide to hike very slowly (the most common refrain heard on Kilimanjaro is ‘Pole-Pole’, the Swahili for ‘slowly slowly’), the climb began. Cally used a PeakRider device to carry her bicycle, handsfree up the steep scree slope that extends to Gilman’s Point. It is hard to comprehend the effect that altitude has on your body until you experience it. Cally was forced to take frequent breaks to catch her breath as carrying a bicycle at that altitude is incredibly draining. The issue with taking a break is that it was well below freezing, with the wind chill making it even more frigid. The guides finally made it clear that if the group were to keep stopping so frequently, the whole group would not make it. After carrying her bike for about three hours up the extremely steep and loose scree slope, Cally finally decided to send it back down with a porter and continue without it as the front brakes had stopped working and it would have been too dangerous to ride it down the scree slope without two functioning brakes.

Cally and her team finally made it to the Uhuru Summit, 5895 m above sea level, at sunrise, after six and a half hours of the most gruelling trekking to complete her journey from Cape Town to the rooftop of Africa three months after setting off.

Cally truly inspired everyone here at Trail’s End with her tenacious and adventurous spirit and we hope that her story will inspire more as well as raising awareness about the very real issue of gender based violence. You can make your contribution by donating to Saartjie Baartman Centre or any similar organisation.