Cyclist goes the extra mile

There are not many people who would cycle from Dar es Salaam to Durban, through dangerous terrain, up and down hills and other harsh conditions – all in the name of charity.

But that is what August Carstens, 25, has been doing for the past two months, and his journey is far from complete.

August Carstens takes a break in Durban after cycling almost 5 000km from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The mathematical science graduate with a passion for people and the outdoors is intent on travelling across SA. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane. Credit: INLSA

Originally from Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, he became interested in cycling and mountain biking when he was 10.

Carstens, who now lives in Mount Edgecombe, completed a degree in mathematical science at Stellenbosch University last year.

“I decided to take a gap year, with the aim of travelling South Africa as much as possible. The Kilimanjaro to Cape Town challenge provided a perfect opportunity to see some of the places where people rarely travel,” he said. “I love being outdoors and I have a passion to help people.”

This is the reason why he decided to combine his expedition with fundraising.

Carstens began his journey on April 1, travelling from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro then passing through Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. He will complete his journey by travelling from Durban to Cape Town through the Freedom Trail – a 2 350km mountain-bike route that starts in Pietermaritzburg and ends in Paarl in the Western Cape.

“It has been an amazing adventure,” he said. “You learn a lot about yourself and how to cope with different situations.

“The highlight of the trail has been the amazing people I have met along the way. I travelled through a lot of villages and rural land. The hospitality of the local people was quite surprising and touching.”

Carstens faced several challenges along the way, such as a lack of food, his bike breaking down several times and, just three weeks ago, he was infected with malaria.

He said he managed to face these challenges by remembering The Jag Foundation, Miles for Smiles and the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac foundation – the charities that have benefited from his journey.

He plans to participate in more expeditions in the future and to continue to help children in need through his travels.