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Amazing races: 7 epic trips that will test your endurance

Looking for a travel challenge that will test your mettle? These unconventional journeys aren’t for the faint of heart — but they do promise unparalleled travel memories. Here are 7 epic trips by land, sea and bike that are guaranteed to get your heart pumping if you’re up for a little adventure:


Cape to Rio 

This trans-atlantic yacht race (connecting Africa with South America via the southern Trade Winds) is open to hard-core racers, family cruisers and avid adventurer, according to Cape to Rio chairman, Luke Scott. “The race connects the iconic, exotic and historic into an incredible cocktail of deep blue water sailing.”

It’s been running since 1971 and is the longest continent-to-continent yacht race in the southern hemisphere. It links two of the world’s most stunning sea ports in Cape Town and Rio de Janiero over an expanse of 5,800km. 

It attracts crews from all over the world, including South Africa, America, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Take part
This year’s race is scheduled for 2 January 2020 (for cruisers and lower handicap boats), routed via a compulsory stop at the mid-South Atlantic island of St Helena. A second, more challenging route will start on 11 January 2020 for racers on higher handicap boats, racing directly between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. Prizes will be awarded on 2 February in Rio. Register for the event or learn more at cape2rio2020.com.

Getting there
South African Airways (SAA) is a partner for this year’s Cape to Rio race and is offering discounted one-way or round-trip fares from South Africa’s major airport hubs to Sao Paulo. 

One-way Economy fares start from R6,070pp; round-trip fares start from R7,434pp in Economy or R16,479pp in Business). Contact your nearest Sure Travel agent to enquire or book, or call us for a quote on 0861 47 48 49.

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4Deserts 250k Sahara Race

Consider this one of the most gruelling tests of human endurance the world over. The Sahara Race spans 250 kilometres through the Namibian desert’s shifting sands, taking seven days to complete (aided by a full medical support team, water, and a tent to sleep in at night). 

Take part
It’s most commonly challenged by elite runners — however, novices (who’ve put in the necessary training to make it) are also encouraged to apply. 

Getting there
Contact Sure Travel today to book your flights to Namibia with SAA — they fly direct between Windhoek and Johannesburg 13 times each week. 

Kilimanjaro Marathon

Take in “Africa’s Rooftop” at 5,895m as you complete a marathon in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. The event has been held since 2003 in the town of Moshi, and includes a standard 42.2km marathon, 21.1km half marathon and 5km fun run.

At high altitude, this race is sure to push even the fittest of athletes to the limit, so why not head to Tanzania early for a few game drives and some extra training time? 

Take part
The event takes place 1 March 2020 but registration closes at midnight on 16 February (or as soon as it fills up). Complete your entry here.

Getting there
SAA flies into Dar es Salaam 10 times a week and you can rest assured that these flights offer the most direct nonstop route between South Africa and Tanzania at the most convenient times. Contact us to book.

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The Mongol Rally

One of the world’s most unconventional road trips, the Mongol Rally takes competitors across Europe and Asia in a dilapidated car. It’s “motoring stupidity on a global scale”, according to organisers. PS. you’re on your own. 

From the starting line in a yet-to-be disclosed town in the Czech Republic to the finish at Ulan Ude in Russia, this race route winds through the most desolate landscapes: mountains, deserts and a whole lot more between. The catch? There’s no set route. Why? Because “adventure happens when you’re lost”.

Take part
How can you qualify? Your car or motorcycle/scooter must be a certified, unreliable “rust bucket” (ie. cars must be a one-litre (1000cc) or less) and you’ll need to raise a minimum of GBP 1000 for charity. Visit the rally’s website for more details — it takes place from 18 July to 14 September 2020.

Getting there
Fly to Frankfurt with SAA (they depart from South Africa daily), then take a domestic flight or train to Prague. Contact your nearest Sure Travel agent to enquire or book.

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SUP 11 City Tour

It’s just you and a paddle board, making your way through 11 of the Netherland's most picturesque canal cities. Sound like your idea of heaven? 

Make no mistake, this race is tough: you’ll cover 220km over the course of five days, roundtrip from Leeuwarden in the Friesland canals of northern Holland. It’s all about maintaining focus and a strong start, and not letting the region’s windy, wet weather chill you to the bone. 

Take part
The race typically takes place in September each year. Visit the race’s website for more details or to register. 

Getting there
SAA flies daily to Frankfurt, London and Munich international airports — all of which offer easy connecting flights to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. Ask your nearest Sure Travel agent for assistance to book the journey.

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Salzkammergut Trophy

Ready, set, mountain bike! This is a marathon for extreme cyclists and one of the most difficult races in Europe: you’ll have just 16 hours to complete a 210km mountain bike course through the Austrian alps (with a whopping elevation gain of 7,000m!). 

Take part
Register to be one of the 5,000 riders from more than 40 countries who take this challenge head on. If your knees are already quivering at the description, you can also register for one of the shorter options held the same day — the race takes place 18 July in 2020.

Getting there
Our agents are experts when it comes to travelling with sports equipment, including bikes. Contact your nearest Sure Travel agency for details on luggage allowances, or to book your flights to Austria (the race starts around Bad Goisern). 

Cape Epic

We wouldn’t be surprised if the 1,300 cyclists on the Absa Cape Epic have PTSD after finishing this gruelling race across nearly 700km (much of it, uphill) in eight days. There’s a reason it’s known as the “Tour de France” of MTB — yet many do come back for more pain, year after year. 

Sure Travel’s own, Jan Lombaard, for instance, took on last year’s race. Read more about his experience.

Take part
From the iconic slopes of Table Mountain National Park to the luxury of Val de Vie Estate, the route in 2020 promises to be wild. According to organisers, it’s open to professional and amateur mountain bikers in five different categories (men, women, mixed, 40+ and 50+). 

To ensure that the race is accessible to riders from around the world no qualification is required, but you must be at least 19 years old (by 31 Dec 2020) to participate. Find out more at www.cape-epic.com

Getting there
For unbeatable local flight deals with SAA, contact your nearest Sure Travel agency

Go there!

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