Walking Expedition from South Africa to Egypt
Mario Rigby is currently embarking on a once in a lifetime expedition to traverse the entire African continent all the way from Cape Town to Cairo by foot and paddle boat only. This is a rigorous two year expedition that will cover multiple uncharted terrain in 8 countries throughout eastern Africa.
Every moment will be photographed, filmed and written to eventually create a full featured documentary and a book covering the journey. I am doing this to test human physiological and psychological strengths and weaknesses as well as the beautiful sceneries and multi cultures Africa has to offer. Hewill endure unforgiving environments such as deserts, rapid rivers, desolate landscapes, jungles, civil unrest, just to name a few.
What made you decide to cross Africa by foot and how long did you plan, train prior departure to Africa?
It got me one day, although I’ve always realised it that the life I was living was not fulfilling for me, there must be more to life. So I made a decision and just went for it which I trained and prepped 9 months for.
Before leaving home, what was your biggest fear or worry? Did you have any stereotypes about Africa?
My biggest fear was the idea of crossing the see desert. I’ve never looked much into Africa other than the few movies we saw so that was my perception of Africa, Lions big animals and lots of war. People around me also kept feeding me these fears.
Which countries in Africa did you cross so far on ? Which country left the biggest impression, impact and why (people, nature, …)
I’ve walked across South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and now currently in Ethiopia. Time seems to fly by. It’s difficult to say which country had the biggest impact. I would say each left a unique mark, however South Africa was the longest country to cross so I spent the most time there, particularly The Wild Coast. Everything is incredibly vast and you can pretty much pitch you tent anywhere along the coast.
What is your life motto that lifts you up most in not so glamorous situations on the road?
I have a life motto and a road motto. Life “Make it possible” at any means make it possible. The Road “Keep Moving” eventually if I keep moving, no matter how horrible the conditions I will make it to my destination.
Being on the road now for a second year? What would be the best and the worst moments so far?
I am walking Africa 1.5 years now. There are too many best and worst moments to name so when I name one it’s just one of the many. I’d say nearly drowning in my kayak trying to cross Lake Malawi. You’re out by yourself and 4 metre tall waves come at you with full force, that can make you feel small. Best moments were in the Wild Coast, it felt like proper hiking and sometimes you’d be left alone for over a hundred miles.
How do locals treat you? I bet you have many wonderful stories to share!
Most locals treat me very well. Sometimes I blend in really well but my backpack, my height (6’3″) and my language puts me on the spotlight. They usually approach cautiously, according to some authorities I could be a terrorist, rebel or Nigerian gangster or pimp. So I usually don’t have any problems with people hassling me, except for the authorities. Many people have let me sleep in their backyards, some countries are more afraid and some are more welcoming than others.
Is there anything that would stop you from finishing this project and make you go back home before the mission crossing Africa is over?
Nothing will and can stop me, I’m in too deep. However at times I do feel like stopping.
Your walk in Kenya took you toLake Turkana region trough Chalbi desert.. Coping with desert on foot – what is the biggest challenge?
Lake Turkana is the gem most of the people skip because being so remote and sometimes considered as not so safe region. How did you experience it? The biggest challenge in the Chalbi desert was getting water regularly and pacing my walk to match my hydration needs. As well as measuring precisely where the next possible water source was.
I found Lake Turkana incredibly safe, I think one or 2 incidents happened in the past and people quickly label places as bad, they could not have been further from the truth. There are places you don’t go to, where the tribes are fighting over water resources and the roads being nearly impossible to drive on.
It was a magical experience, these various tribes are almost entirely remote and they have such a powerful presence.
The best memory from South Africa?
Best memories from South Africa was the hospitality of the people, they were eager to take me in and make me feel at home despite what’s happening in the country at the moment. As well as the magnificent landscapes along the cost.
The best memory from Mozambiqe?
Mozambique had some of the most beautiful long roads surrounded by coconut trees. Also their homes were mostly traditional circular homes that were kept neat and tidy, each yard had orange, mango, nut and papaya trees. These people were happy and free.
The best memory from Malawi?
Malawi has the most gorgeous lake I’ve seen. The water in the middle of the lake tastes incredibly fresh (although it should still be filtered). The people of Malawi were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
The best memory from Tanzania?
Tanzania, this place was my jewel. The life in Tanzania is festive and they are a proud people. I experienced a good time there. What got to me was their great music and the food in Zanzibar.
The best memory from Kenya?
Kenya struck me as incredibly developed, very educated people and a place for business owners to thrive in whatever endeavor they choose. There’s a great diversity of experience to have in Kenya, the big city life in Nairobi, safari life or life at ease in Lamu.
Have you been in life threatening danger so far while walking the African continent?
I have been in countless life threatening situations. The worst ones were hippos, snakes, dehydration, kayak accident and rebels. I was in a convey going across the border of Mozambique when all of a sudden rebels from the bush attacked us, luckily I was with 8 soldiers at the time and the shootout lasted for only 10 minutes.
What do you carry with you? Packing list please!
- 70L rucksack
- (5 tops, 2 bottoms, 3 underwear, 2 shades, 1 scarf, 1 small quick dry towel)
- 1 sandal, running shoe and army boots
- 2 baseball caps, 1 brim hat
- Pocket knife and hunting knife
- Stove cooker, 2 compact cooking pots that come together, ignitor
- Food bag (varies, usually instant noodles and other snacks)
- 3L water bladder and 1.5L water container
- First aid kit (1L size)
- Toiletries (2L size)
- Emergency rope, mosquito net, bug repellent, small various safety equipments
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping liner
- Sleeping pad
- Tent (2 person)
- Paper work (copy of passport, Visa, map)
- Small wallet pouch
- Smart phone, cheap basic phone, headphones, memory cards, power adapter and cords
Many will be probably curios how you financially cover CrossingAfrica project?
I have a funding campaign and a few private sponsors that support me, my biggest supporter is my mother.
Also on average, what is your daily spenditure. Which was the cheapest country to travel and the country that drained your budget most?
It all varies, weather I’m in a big city or out on the road in the middle of nowhere, it can fluctuate between $3 a day to $15 daily on food and drink. For accommodation if I’m not pitching my tent I can spend $5 to $25 for a guest house. Sometimes I sleep at people’s homes, pitch my tent or guest houses offer me complimentary accommodation.
Do you ever feel homesick and how do you cope with it?
As I’m nearing the end of my expedition I am missing home. Sometimes it’s nice to just stay at a place for just a while and get to know people and make friends.
How many countries are in front of you and when do you think you are reaching your finish point?
I’m currently in Ethiopia and there are 2 more countries ahead of me, North Sudan and Egypt so I plan to finish in November/December of 2017.
What happens after Crossing Africa? Any plans for the future?
After Crossing Africa I have a big project planned, it’s about sustainable transportation in Africa. It will be an exciting and very challenging project. I can’t say too much yet.