By far the biggest, most adventurous trip to date was the Take On Africa bike ride from the UK to Cape Town. This journey took 20 months to complete, during which I cycled nearly 25,000km.
During the 20 months on the road, I had close encounters with many wild animals including snakes, scorpions and termites, an angry lion on the road, a jackal that ripped through my tent and stole food, and many elephants. I had to deal with corrupt officials and turn down numerous marriage proposals. But most notably of all, it is the kindness, hospitality and generosity of strangers I met along the way that I’ll remember.
Having entered Africa at Morocco, I traversed the Sahara, cycled through West Africa, for two weeks paddled down the Niger river in a locally-made pirogue (wooden boat) and spent three months crossing the Democratic Republic of Congo before entering southern Africa. I slept alone in the desert sands, in thick equatorial forests, outside the huts of local village chiefs surrounded by hundreds of children, in schools and the homes of people I met.
The cycling was on roads ranging from beautifully smooth tarmac to muddy and sandy tracks that I had to tirelessly push or drag the fully-loaded bike weighing 50 kilograms. I passed through many different climatic regions and has had to cope with sandstorms, thunderstorms, endless rains and extreme heat.
I kept a blog and uploaded photos during the journey as well as making some short videos:
I used the bike expedition to help raise money for the Welbodi Partnership, a UK charity supporting the provision of paediatric care in Sierra Leone, where child health statistics are among the worst in the world.
The Welbodi Partnership was set-up by Tom Cairnes and Matthew Clark. Matthew is an enthusiastic and dedicated friend of mine, who spent time in Freetown, the capital, during his medical elective. Unusually for a charitable organisation, the Partnership is working directly with the government; the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
The Partnership is currently focused on providing care and training at the Ola During Children’s Hospital in Freetown, which I visited on the journey, and is a model to be expanded nationwide to meet the long term objectives of providing locally run, accessible healthcare to children nationwide.