Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

A journey of purpose

Legendary adventurer Kingsley Holgate and his team recently set off on an 18-month expedition 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. LIANA REINERS attended the send-off.

Kingsley Holgate is synonymous with adventure and with the Land Rover brand. However, this intrepid explorer is also well known for the wonderful humanitarian work he does on the African continent through the Kingsley Holgate Foundation. In fact, he already has 40 expeditions under his belt, the most recent being the 35 000km ‘Hot Cape – Cold Cape’ transcontinental journey from Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa through 30 countries to Nordkapp in Norway’s Arctic Circle.

Now Kingsley and his team are off again, this time on a quest to highlight the importance of conserving Africa’s wildlife and remaining natural landscapes, while at the same time drawing attention to the needs of rural communities living in these remote areas.

“During our expeditions to every country on the African continent over the past 30 years, we’ve grown to appreciate Africa’s unique biodiversity and iconic wildlife – sadly now under immense threat. The frightening decimation of endangered species such as elephants and rhinos, and the destruction of vast tracts of pristine forests, wetlands and grasslands don’t make the headlines anymore – there’s too much doom and gloom,” explains Kingsley. “So, for many years, we’ve been asking the question: where can one find stories of hope for Africa’s critically needed wild places? This is where the conservation NGO, African Parks, comes into the picture.”

The aim of the 18-month expedition is to showcase the revival of 22 national parks in 12 diverse African countries and encompassing 20-million hectares under the management of African Parks, which was founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding. As a non-profit conservation organisation, they take complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks, in partnership with governments and local communities. Along the way, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s malaria prevention work will continue as insecticide-treated mosquito nets will be distributed to African Parks staff and families, as well as to pregnant women and mothers of young children in high-risk communities.

Of course, the trip will also be a real-life test on African soil for the Land Rover Defender 130 as the expedition’s two long-wheelbase Defender 130s will be tackling an estimated 50 000km over some of the harshest terrain and off-road routes on the continent. The vehicles were kitted by 4×4 Megaworld and Front Runner, with tyres supplied by Cooper Tires.

“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. “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. We’ll also be tackling dense Congo forests, dangerous 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, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) 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’, the team will collect messages of support from traditional leaders, community beneficiaries, park rangers, conservation partners, government envoys, VIPs and other supporters met along the way. These will become an enduring archive of positive, grassroots narratives in support of conservation across Africa. Kingsley’s well-travelled Zulu calabash will once again collect symbolic water from iconic rivers and lakes in each park on this Afrika Odyssey journey and will be emptied at the end over a symbolic stone cairn at African Parks’ head office.

Keep abreast of the expedition’s journey on social media: @Kingsley Holgate Foundation.

A very special expedition name and logo

The ‘Afrika Odyssey’ name and logo have special significance. They are a revival of the name and logo of the very first big expedition undertaken by the 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. Thirty 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.

More about Kingsley Holgate Foundation

Using adventure to improve and save lives – that is the key concept of the Kingsley Holgate Foundation, founded by one of Africa’s most colourful modern-day explorers. Kingsley Holgate is a humanitarian adventurer, author, TV personality, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Land Rover Ambassador, speaker at the New York Explorers Club and at age 77, arguably the most travelled man in Africa.

On every expedition the Kingsley Holgate Foundation team actively work to prevent malaria amongst pregnant women and mothers with young children who are the most vulnerable. They also provide the gift of sight to poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in remote regions, as well as reduce the spread of water-borne diseases and provide portable water to drought-stricken communities. The team has also aided in the upgrade of impoverished early childhood development centres and proactively support wildlife conservation efforts, especially of critically endangered species.

Having explored all 54 countries on the African continent, no other team of modern-day explorers have achieved so much in using the energy of adventure to make such a positive difference to the lives of so many. They are also the only expedition team in history to have followed the Tropic of Capricorn around the world in Land Rovers, traced the entire outline of Africa through 33 countries, discovered the geographic centre-point of the continent deep in the Congo rainforests, and reached all seven of Africa’s extreme geographic points.

*For more information: www.kingsleyholgate.com

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