Beyond the Desert Edge
On Monday September 4th, Peter van Kets set off from Serra Cafema against the Angolan border, to attempt to mountain bike approximately 1200km – via some of the most inhospitable terrain on Planet Earth – all the way to Swakopmund, in Namibia.
“I am fundamentally an optimist … Part of being an optimist is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.” - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
These inspirational words from one of our greatest ever African leaders rang especially true for Peter Van Kets at the dawn of his world-first attempt to cross the uncharted wilderness between the Cunene River on the Angolan border, and Swakopmund, Namibia.
Van Kets, a world-renowned adventurer - together with photo-journalist Jacques Marais, and Media / Support Team – tackled this extreme expedition by fat-bike and mountain bike. He cranked off from the Wilderness Safaris camp, Serra Cafema, on September 4th, 2017, following the inhospitable edge of the Skeleton Coast National Park.
Marais joined him on regular daily stages, and the riders – supported by two Isuzu KB 4x4 vehicles - each fitted with new DUNLOP Grand Trek off-road tyres - crossed the expansive dune fields into the desolate and remote Hartmann’s Valley. The route passed into the arid Namib interior, dog-legging via a rugged Damaraland moonscape, onwards past Brandberg and the Spitzkoppe inselbergs, before finally finishing in Swakopmund after nearly two weeks of cycling.
Adventure photo-journalist Jacques Marais and a film crew was on hand to follow the DUNLOP ‘Beyond the Desert Edge’ Expedition, filming both off the bike and from the vehicles. They will be on hand to record not only the human endeavour of this incredible exploration, but also the amazing ecosystems and landscapes that the crew traversed along the way.
“To me, ‘Beyond the Desert Edge’ is more about natural exploration than about an ego-driven adventure”, says Van Kets. “Our route took us along the edge of an amazing and fragile natural world, and somehow we want to share this incredible journey with every interested party out there.
“Huge kudos must go to our headline sponsors, DUNLOP TYRES (SA), without whom this amazing project would never have seen the light. Their unflinching backing and financial support set the tone for other sponsors to come on board, and it was a huge privilege to test their latest (and one of their most advanced) ‘Grand Trek’ models along this rugged and dramatic off-road route.
“Further financial assistance from SPAR (Eastern Cape) helped with key provisioning as the team biked via the remote desert landscape. Vehicle support came courtesy of ISUZU (South Africa), enabling the back-up team to consistently follow and re-supply the riders, while also lending protection as they moved through extreme dangerous game territory. Desert-adapted elephant, lion and black rhino roam free here in significant numbers.
“‘Beyond the Desert Edge’ could never have happened without the backing of WILDERNESS SAFARIS either. Their unrivalled environmental ethos and in-depth knowledge of the region we passed through was key to the success of the adventure, and we hope to help highlight the plight of these delicate ecosystems upon our return. As such, care will be taken to stick to existing tracks to ensure we tread lightly and minimise potential damage to this fragile environment.
“We are extremely pleased to have had a whole range of technical outdoor apparel from HI-TEC (South Africa), which protected us against the harsh and extreme climatic conditions one faces up here in the Namib environs. And as bicycles were our main human-powered means of transport, it was great to have our never-say-die GIANT BICYCLES (SA) to depend on for every pedal stroke along the route.
“Further support came from CIOVITA (who supplied our brilliant MTB Tops); HOLDFAST (for great MTB Rack Systems and Kit); SPOT AFRICA (Tracking Pods and real-time tracking); DRIPDROP (Oral Rehydration Systems electrolyte supply); RACEFOOD (tasty – and natural - energy bars), BEAN THERE (excellent coffee) and DARLING BREW (craft beer fuel).”
‘Beyond the Desert Edge’ was the first in a series of #BEYONDEXPEDITIONS ventures to be undertaken by Peter Van Kets and Jacques Marais over the next four years, with each of these missions aiming to highlight specific regions under environmental threat.
Documenting and filming these adventures will however go beyond just the environmental issues faced by ecosystems under threat. Focused fundraising through a range of channels will go towards our official charity beneficiary, ‘Children in the Wilderness’ – to view their incredible work in educating kids in southern Africa’s wild places, go to their web site, www.childreninthewilderness.com
Both Van Kets and Marais are official ambassadors for #CITW, and their aim over the ‘Beyond the Desert Edge’ Expedition will be to raise maximum awareness and funds for this laudable charity organisation, focused on sustainable solutions for conservation in wilderness areas.
They will in due course explain in detail how the public will be able to assist or contribute or raise funds; just keep an eye on their BEYONDEXPEDITIONS Facebook Page.
For more information on #BTDE and BEYOND EXPEDITIONS, follow their FACEBOOK Page, BEYOND EXPEDITIONS or the FB Group THE GREAT BEYOND, or keep an eye on the #SocialMedia Streams from Van Kets and Marais – www.petervankets.co.za / www.jacquesmarais.co.za