Princes William and Harry have set off on their bike ride across South Africa to raise money for Prince Harry's charity Sentebale, which helps disadvantaged children in Lesotho, a tiny southern African kingdom surrounded by South Africa.

Both Princes are passionate bikers – William, 26, owns a 175mph Honda Blackbird superbike, while Harry, 24, passed his motorcycle test after an intensive course this summer.

They will travel 1000 miles from Port Edward to Port Elizabeth.

Watch out Chelsea and Kate - the Princes set off on a gruelling bike ride across South Africa...with a bevy of blondes for company

By Polly Dunbar
19th October 2008
Daily Mail

It is billed as a life-changing experience that will test their physical and mental mettle.

But yesterday, as they set off on an eight-day charity motorcycle rally in the South African wilderness, Prince Harry and Prince William looked far from daunted by the gruelling task ahead.

The brothers brushed aside any hangovers they might have suffered after their booze-fuelled farewell bash at London’s Whisky Mist club to embark on the adventure, in which they will cross 1,000 miles of dangerous mountain terrain.

The Princes are wearing bulky protective clothing underneath their normal clothes for the challenging Enduro Africa bike trek

But their girlfriends, Chelsy Davy and Kate Middleton, may have more to worry about than their men’s safety after seeing their fellow contestants. Several of them are young, attractive, blonde women.

William, 26, and Harry, 24, are believed to have been inspired by the exploits of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who rode from John O’Groats to Cape Town in their TV series Long Way Down.

Both Princes are passionate bikers – William owns a 175mph Honda Blackbird superbike, while Harry passed his motorcycle test after an intensive course this summer.

Company: The Princes have a bevy of beauties accompanying them on the rally

Raring to go: One of the girls embarking on the same trip as the Princes

Prince Harry poses for a picture before they set out on the bike ride

It is the first time they have united to raise money for charity since they staged last year’s Concert for Diana in memory of their mother. The pair have donated a minimum of £1,500
to take part in the Enduro Africa 08 event to raise money for Sentebale, the charity Harry set up to help to help disadvantaged children in Lesotho.

The route: The Princes will take eight-days to complete the gruelling rally

Unicef and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, both of which work in South Africa to help communities blighted by AIDS and to improve the prospects of young people, will also benefit.

The brothers will have to sleep rough as they traverse some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. Police protection officers will accompany them at all times at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds to UK taxpayers.

Yesterday, before they set off from the east coast holiday resort of Port Edward, near Durban, with the 80 other riders, they spoke of their excitement and denied they were simply enjoying themselves on a boys’ adventure.

Sitting on his Honda CRF 230cc bike and dressed in body armour and thick protective boots, William said: ‘Harry and I had an idea last November to take part in this rally because it’s a mixture of adventure and charity. The key being the money raised today goes towards Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, Unicef and Sentebale – three absolutely brilliant charities.’

Harry, an officer in the Household Cavalry, said: ‘There may be an opinion we’re just riding bikes but we are not. The charity side is hugely important to us and the main reason we’re doing it.’

South African adventure: The princes set off on their motocross bikes

Harry said the pair were looking forward to spending time together, but admitted that after the talk they had received about the rally, which will take them down to Port Elizabeth, they were both nervous.

‘I went to bed shaking and didn’t sleep that well,’ he said. ‘It’s not just a bimble across the countryside, that’s for sure. It’s going to be very challenging and we’re expecting to fall off many a time.’

This is the first time the royal brothers have fundraised together since they organised their late mother's memorial concert last year

Prince William: Dressed for action

The Princes, who demonstrated their motorbike skills to the Press by speeding through the grounds of a Port Edward hotel, will travel in a group of ten but will meet up with the other participants each night.

Asked how well they expected to get along with one another, Harry replied: ‘I don’t know yet. We’ll have to tell you afterwards. We might argue, we might have a bit of fun. But we’re really looking forward to it.’

Simon Smith, organiser of the event, said: ‘This is not a race, it’s an endurance test. It’s about finishing the route. You will grow as a person by taking part.

‘The riders will face 60-degree ascents, which will be a great challenge. Much of it will be down to mental fitness. The Princes have bags of personality and are big characters. They are both in the Forces and it shows.’

Royal send-off: The Enduro Africa 08 takes place along the south coast of the country to raise money for UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund

Endurance: Harry chats with the locals before setting off on his 'endurance test'

William intends to train as an RAF search and rescue pilot and is due to spend time with the SAS later this year.

Both Princes ignored the credit crunch and splashed out on farewell drinks in Mayfair club Whisky Mist last Wednesday, with their cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.