Africa’s renowned explorer Kingsley Holgate and his expedition team set off on a challenging new humanitarian and geographic odyssey on Wednesday 21 June, this time to reach some of the wildest and most isolated regions on the African continent.
Image supplied by Land Rover South Africa
Less than a year after completing the gruelling 35,000-kilometre, 30-country ‘Hot Cape – Cold Cape’ transcontinental journey from Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa to Nordkapp in Norway’s Arctic Circle, the 77-year-old explorer is still not ready to hang up his expedition boots. Instead, he and his team are on a quest to highlight the importance of conserving Africa’s iconic wildlife and remaining natural landscapes and draw attention to the needs of rural communities living alongside these remote areas.
In a unique collaboration with the conservation NGO African Parks, Afrika Odyssey – the 41st Kingsley Holgate geographic and humanitarian expedition – is a legacy journey-of-purpose with a ‘conservation, culture and community’ theme. Estimated to take 18 months, the expedition will follow an adventure-filled, chapter-by-chapter route on a challenging journey into the wild heart of 12 diverse African countries.
This expedition will continue the Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s malaria prevention work that has already helped 3 million people in Africa, through the distribution of effective, long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets to African Parks staff and families as well as to pregnant women and mothers of young children in high-risk communities. Along with community-based malaria prevention education and indoor residual spraying and community education in Mozambique, in partnership with Goodbye Malaria.
Departing from South Africa on 21 June after a vibrant African send-off from the Lesedi Cultural Village in the Cradle of Humankind, the Afrika Odyssey expedition aims to showcase the inspiring revival of 22 national parks under the management of African Parks and encompassing 20million hectares under protected area status, which form the backbone of the continent’s biodiversity and benefits many thousands of people.
It will also be a real-life test on African soil for the new Defender 130. The expedition’s two long-wheel-base expedition Defender 130 vehicles will be tackling an estimated 50,000 kilometres over some of the harshest terrain and off-road routes on the African continent.
“This expedition is going to be one of our most challenging journeys ever attempted,”
said Ross Holgate, Kingsley’s son and the expedition’s leader, who has also explored every country in Africa and beyond, including a round-the-world expedition to track the Tropic of Capricorn and a world-first journey from Cape Town to Kathmandu in Nepal across the deserts and high Himalayan Mountain ranges of Asia.
“It’s not just the long distances we’ll be travelling on dirt roads, goat tracks and probably no tracks to reach all of the Parks that are, understandably, in very isolated regions and in difficult-to-reach terrain,”
“We’ll also be tackling dense Congo forests, heart-in-mouth, seat-of-your-pants river crossings, vast desert and rocky mountain terrain where water and fuel will be hard to come by, and wetlands that are near-impassable especially in rainy seasons. The logistical issues of this expedition are extreme, to say the least.”
Starting in the ancient Namib desert of Iona National Park in southern Angola, the journey will encompass Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, Rwanda, DRC, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, South Sudan and Chad in north Africa, and conclude in Benin, west Africa.
Carrying a Scroll of Peace and Goodwill for Conservation to all 22 parks in 12 countries, the team will collect messages of support from traditional leaders, community beneficiaries, park rangers, conservation partners, government envoys, VIPs and other supporters met all along the way.
The expedition’s name ‘Afrika Odyssey’ and logo has special significance, as it is a revival of the very first big expedition undertaken by the Kingsley Holgate family in 1993, when they became the first South African expedition team to travel from Cape Agulhas to Alexandria in Egypt along the wild waterways of Africa. 30 years later, they’ve been revived to celebrate this 41st geographic and humanitarian journey for Kingsley Holgate, Africa’s renowned and much-loved modern-day explorer.