I am a sucker for any cycling journey – although it doesn’t quite have the nostalgia of travelling by train, it certainly has fun and adventure. Whether it is cycling to Mecca from South Africa or cycling for peace, I am instantly hooked. So when I heard that a Tunisian university teacher and environmental engineering graduate had decided to cycle all the way to China, I had to find out more. Here is his journey so far.
Arafet Ben Marzou, left Tunisia around seven months ago on what will be a ten month journey to China. As part of his efforts to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and the dangers they face, he is visiting Ramsar sites in the country he passes through. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
After crossing the Mediterranean sea from Tunisia to Istanbul, he then cycled through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and his is now in Xinjiang, China. Ben Marzou explains on his site, Wet Bike (fr), that he sees this biking adventure as his “struggle to preserve nature and share it beauty” and encourage the management and enhancement of wetlands.
Ben Marzou also has the support of local environmental organisations with the World Wildlife Fund Tunis Office remarking (translated at Global Voices): “This initiative’s message is mainly of a human and environmental dimension. Through this trek, he [Ben Marzou] will try to reflect on lakes and wetland areas, by sharing photos, videos and by getting in touch with local peoples and sharing their experiences…”
In his mission, Ben Marzou has faced a fair share of troubles which he shared on his facebook page Tabba’ani. At one point, the Pamir road which crosses through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia was closed off due to clashes with Taliban and this seriously jeapordised the progress of his journey. His Tunisian passport also looked likely to create a bit of a problem getting through the former Soviet countries. Luckily for Ben Mazrou, help and hospitality on was hand and he was able to overcome all these obstacles to make it to China. Follow the last leg of his journey at Tabba3ni on facebook.
: All images and photos via Tabba3ni/facebook
For more cycling in the Middle East see: