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Struik Travel & Heritage

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Kingsley Holgate Reaches the Heart of Africa – See Photos from His Latest Adventure

Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersIntrepid explorer Kingsley Holgate, author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers, recently embarked on his latest mission: to touch the heart of Africa.

With help from the University of Cape Town and the International Geographical Union, Holgate and his team, which includes his son Ross, pinpointed the geographical heart of the continent and set out on another epic expedition.

“Four or five years ago we came across this idea that if we have been able to embrace Africa through all of our travels, where is the beating heart? It’s been a growing idea that we need to find the heart of Africa,” Holgate told Richard Holmes, who reported on this adventure on the South African Airways blog, Sawubona.

Read the report for photos and stories from this incredible, and very tough, journey (which is still not over):

Holgate and his son Ross, who is increasingly taking the reins as expedition leader, turned to the University of Cape Town and the International Geographical Union to pinpoint the geographical heart of the continent. The answer? West of the Unbanji River and southeast of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in northern Republic of Congo.

“Once we had the definitive co-ordinates, that was the turning point. That’s when we knew the expedition was on,” explains Holgate.

With the co-ordinates punched into their GPS, Land Rovers stocked and an expedition team readied, Holgate was ready to leave. In late-August he set off from the Landy Festival in Vereeniging. His destination?

17.05291°E, 2.07035°N

The heart of Africa.

Holgate has been updating the Kingsley Holgate Foundation Facebook page frequently, sharing his personal story as they go along. Read his post about the moment they reached the actual heart of Africa where they planted a beacon to commemorate their adventure:

And then the moment of truth sets in. With 1.7 kms of dangerous swamp ahead to reach the ‘Heart’ the Ba’aka realize we have bitten off more than we can chew and begin turning back. I collapse my stinking wet,aching body into a sitting position at the base of a tree that could well be over a thousand years old, is this the end? I’m so exhausted I could just give up and die. Nazaire our interpreter is ‘Man- Down’ and is at our last base camp 3 kms back. But Ross is having none of it’ “We will not fail we’ve come this far and we will not give up” – so using sign language we persuade the Ba’aka to lead us on. Later they told Naz that it was the wild determination in our eyes that they were touched by. Ross pulls me up by the hand,father and son, and with me the finest expedition team of diehards I could ever wish to journey with gather around in support. Seven hours later,in a daze of pain, I arrive at the co- ordinates as verified by the International Geographic Union and the University of Cape Town’s Department of Geographic Sciences. The hands of the Ba’aka and the expedition team slowly screw the Beacon into the roots of an ancient tree and then with some emotion I pour out the symbolic water that had been carried from the Cradle of Humankind. On the Beacon are the colors of the Republic of Congo,the words ‘The Heart of Africa’ A tribute to Africa’s Elephants and coordinates 17.05291 E. 2.07035 N. We have made it!!!

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Photo courtesy of Kingsley Holgate Foundation


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