Torrential rains, mudslides and excitable chimpanzees are some of the challenges encountered by South African adventurer Peter van Kets and photojournalist Jacques Marais on their Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley expedition.
The Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley expedition, driven by Dunlop and supported by Isuzu, set out of cover over 13 000km of wildest Africa – by vehicle, bike, boat and foot, in a bid to complete the first recorded human-powered navigation along the Rwandan section of the Nile-Congo Divide.
It began with an epic trek through Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwest Rwanda. This ancient mountain rainforest is home to 13 species of primate, and the team were fortunate to meet a troop of chimpanzees high in the canopy, casually tossing a colobus monkey carcass between them.
The next leg, intended to cover 300 km of the Nile-Congo Divide by mountain bike, was scuppered when massive mudslides forced van Kets to divert and ride the established Nile Congo Trail instead.
Next, van Kets and team summited two volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains range – Karisimbi (the highest at 4,507 m) and Bisoke (an active volcano of 3, 711 m). At altitude, they experienced thin air, freezing conditions, torrential downpours and slip-sliding clay.
Currently, the team are completing the final section of the expedition’s human-powered segment, paddling 115 km across Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes. They are camping wild, visiting farmers, fishing communities and protected islands where the Government is working with local people in an attempt to restore natural habitat.
Once they complete the paddle the expedition will visit the Children in the Wilderness’s Rwandan project. Both van Kets and Marais are official ambassadors to Children in the Wilderness, a non-profit organisation that educates rural children on conservation and its relevance to their lives.
“We explore wild places to draw attention to the importance of preserving them,” says van Kets. “Children in the Wilderness does this by educating the next generation; inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future. We encourage everyone who can support this worthwhile cause to do so and help protect Africa’s pristine wilderness areas.” To make a donation or find out more visit the Children in the Wilderness website www.childreninthewilderness.com.
This is van Kets and Marais’s second expedition in a five part series to highlight remote African regions under environmental threat.
For more information follow the #BeyondTheRiftValley and #BTRV hashtags, visit www.beyondexpeditions.co.za or find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Beyond-Expeditions-114573608599111/ or Twitter and Instagram @beyondexped.