Blo Norton woman completes cycle ride to South Africa

A Norfolk woman, who cycled from Blo Norton to South Africa, is already planning her next adventure after pedalling more than 20,000km on a charity mission.

Engineer Helen Lloyd left her parents' home near Diss in July 2009 to embark on an independent cycle ride to Cape Town in South Africa, whilst helping to raise money for charity.

After cycling 24,600km through 24 countries on two continents, the 30-year-old arrived at the southern tip of Africa last month.

Miss Lloyd, who has returned to work for a company in Middlesex that makes aeroplane ejector seats, said she was already plotting her next adventure to Canada in the summer after being bitten by the travel bug.

During her 20 month journey, she had close encounters with many wild animals including snakes, scorpions and termites, hippos, elephants, lions and jackals.

'I had to deal with corrupt officials and turn down numerous marriage proposals. But most notably of all, it was the kindness, hospitality and generosity of strangers met along the way that I will remember,' she said.

For two weeks in west Africa, she stopped pedalling and instead paddled down the Niger River on a 350km journey in a locally-made wooden boat with a Swedish cyclist she met on the route.

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'Those two weeks were the most physically and mentally challenging period of the journey. Late in the dry season, the water was low and we repeatedly became stuck on rocks. It made navigating the rapids extremely difficult in such a heavy boat and caused us to capsize several times. And all the time we were on the lookout for crocodiles and for hippos. Despite all this, the remoteness and natural beauty of the region, rarely visited except by a few local fishermen, was incredible,' she said.

Miss Lloyd has so far raised almost �2,500 for the Welbodi Partnership, a UK charity supporting the provision of paediatric care in Sierra Leone, where child health statistics are among the worst in the world.

The charity is currently focused on providing care and training at the Ola During Children's Hospital in Freetown, which she visited on her journey.

Read her African blog at www.takeonafrica.com