John Muir, an explorer and mountaineer said “The Mountains are calling and I must go.” That call has come to us, and we must go...to Kilimanjaro. Every African at some point in their lives dream of really experiencing Africa, wild and free. To submerge yourself in its sights, sounds, people, cultures and its highest mountain, Kilimanjaro: that’s what our project escape is all about. And this on a shoestring budget. If you like our idea and would like to lend us a hand click here
Why are we undergoing this journey was the first question.
Our second was how.
Well, we could fly but this would mean that we would miss all of Africa we are flying over. So then why not drive the 6800km to “Kili”. Now there are so many options of how to drive. Do we go via the Kalahari Highway with its endless grasslands and thousands of donkeys? Do we attempt the petrol dash in Zimbabwe? In the end we decided to jump in our little hatch back, heading west towards Namibia in search of the African adventure our souls long for and then onwards to the eventual summit of Kilimanjaro.
Why this journey of escape? Because as two people, we have come to a crossroad in our lives. One Olympic girl’s endeavour has come to an end and the other, an IT Database guy needs something tangible to conquer. Adventure Synapses Namibia offers an extreme climate and stark landscapes that couldn’t be bypassed. A land of vast deserts, deep river gorges and countless stars. We would follow in the steps of the Khoisan and go to the famous granite domes of Spizkoppe where we would see some of the best preserved rock art in Southern Africa. From there we would go in search of Dr Livingston in the Caprivi Strip Zambia, Malawi and ultimately Tanzania to summit Kili. The drive back would include Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar, then backtrack through Botswana stopping at Chobe. So far we are planning to take 45 days to complete our African adventure which means we will to drive roughly 300Kms a day. The total distance travelled will be in the excess of 14000Km.
• • Camping out under the stars in the Richtersveld
• • Spectacular views of the Fish River Canyon
• • Aus and Kolmanskop where humans have lost the battle against the desert
• • The granite domes and rock art at Spitzkoppe
• • Viewing wildlife in the famous Caprivi strip and camping on the banks of the Zambezi
• • Jumping into the devils pool that hangs on the edge of the Victoria Falls
• • Following Lake Malawi to Tanzania
• • Climbing Kilimanjaro via the most steep and challenging route called the Umbwe
• • Dar es Salaam with its history of spice and slavery
• • Okavango delta and Chobe as a final stop
Members of the Team:
Ursula Grobler & Donovan van Graan
Ursula, who is known as Ursh, competed in the Rio Olympic Games for South Africa and placed 5th in the A-Final in the Lightweight Women Double Scull. It was a 10-year commitment of brutal training and extreme dieting with all sights on winning and bringing home a gold medal for South Africa. A disheartening final has led to her need for a change in scenery and perspective. Not surprising that the route up to Kilimanjaro she wanted to do was the Umbwe Route. It is the shortest route on Kili, just 28 km to the top but there is no such thing as a short cut on the mountain as it should only be considered by those with some sturdy limbs.
Ursula is excited to explore this journey from a cultural and cuisine side of Africa also. Having studied graphic arts at the University of Pretoria, her background in Art History is why the Rock Art stops are planned. Her sports performance lifestyle made her follow a paleo way of eating, which is a reference to ancestral health, meaning very native, local; nothing processed or packaged. All subsistence and organic farming. The east African spices and cooking techniques will be of particular interest, which was also written about by well-known chef Marcus Samuelson. He wrote one of her favourite cook book, saying that “To Understand African Cooking, you have to understand
Donovan, who has the nickname of Muis, went through some turbulent times which drove him to run... Run further and harder. But instead of offering release, it almost cost his life twice in the span of a year. Once when contracting a very serious infection in his leg after a fall while running on Table Mountain. This almost led to the doctors amputating his leg... The second was when he was pulled from the Lesotho Sky run due to him developing arrhythmia. He did 6 Ultra marathons including two which was over 80 km and one 100Km in just under 3 months. For Muis, this journey will fulfill a childhood dream he had since the day he summited his first koppie. He has climbed a number of major mountains all over the world but Kilimanjaro remained on his bucket list. This journey, he hopes, will give him much needed inner peace. “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.” -- Kwame Nkrumah