Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Africa Geographic Travel

Date: 10 January 2013

It is difficult to say how I was feeling when I finally departed. At first, I was excited to begin this epic journey, to meet my Tour d’Afrique team and to see my parents who’d arrived the same day from the UK. However, the day of my departure was a busy one.

I started early, rushing around Cape Town to pick up my bike, collect brochures and business cards from the MAD charity offices, and do some last minute shopping… all the while chatting on the phone to friends and family, wishing me luck and sending heaps of love. Then the anxiety kicked in… After finalizing my packing, we cracked open champagne to “cheers” my epic journey. I looked around, holding my glass, surrounded by my loved ones, and felt a nauseating sensation overtake my body. I’ve never been so completely overwhelmed. I felt like I was going to be sick and the shakes had started… I could honestly say that I was having a mini panic attack. Only then did I realize I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I had simply forgotten. Finally, with food and fluid in my system, I started to calm down and all was okay.

The whole gang

As expected my luggage was overweight. We arrived at the airport early, hoping that some sweet-talk might help with the excess, but I was out of luck. I had purchased 15kg extra weight with my ticket, but I was still 10kg over. I needed all that I packed and so rushed off and paid for the extra weight.


Successfully checked-in, I had a few minutes to see my family off. It was a wonderful turnout. It really helped make my farewell special. At the security check, I was expecting tears and all kinds of emotions, but my dear mum started crying first. I became incredibly calm and collected and was able to console her. My fears of my journey ahead were no more.


We landed and at the baggage collection the nerves kicked in again: What if my luggage got lost??? What would I do??? Questions were running through my mind, but as my bike box came out on the belt, I squeaked with excitement and ran to hug it. All was well.

With everyone staring, I made my exit and held thumbs customs didn’t stop me. When the officer got to me, he said: “STOP!!! What is the box?” I reply with the sweetest smile I possess: “It’s my bicycle. I’ll be cycling home to South Africa.” He looked at me with worried eyes, probably thinking this girl has lost her marbles. He shook his head and let me through. The airport transfer shuttle was perfectly on time, and I was at the hotel, checked-in, and sitting in on the TdA meeting within an hour of my arrival.


The intimidating meet-and-greet began, with a group much larger than I expected. 65 full tour riders from all over the world coming over to introduce themselves was a little scary. I just nodded, smiled and walked away thinking I cannot remember one name or a single face. Exhausted, I retired to my room after a quick dinner. It was going to be another big day.


Tessa experiences a slight setback on Day 1 of the Tour D’Afrique, stay tuned for her next post to find out what happened! 

If you missed last weeks introductory post about Tessa and her journey, you can read it here.

Shenton Safaris
Tessa Melck

Born and raised on a farm near Velddrif on South Africa's Cape West Coast, Tessa Melck is made for adventure. After spending five years working on luxury Super Yachts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, she has taken her life to the next level, competing in the 2013 Tour d'Afrique – a cycle race from Cairo to Cape Town, covering 11 different countries over a distance of 12,000 km in just four months. Adding heart to her endeavour, she is doing this in aid of the Make A Difference foundation, a charity that gives financial support to deserving young people to pursue an education. Follow her on Twitter, donate to her charity (, or find her on Facebook.