It’s Monday 27th June and a walk across Africa


It’s Monday 27th June and a walk across Africa

In November last year I had a request to sponsor an American citizen who wanted to cross Africa by foot, from Pemba, Mozambique to Lobito, Angola, more than 4000 miles (6437km).

Julian Monroe is an explorer, an anthropologist, a published author and a documentary filmmaker, aiming to do his most ambitious expedition in the Spring of 2011, and become ‘the first American to walk across Africa’.

west from Lilongwe

From the Indian Ocean coast of Mozambique, Julian is walking west until he reaches the Atlantic Ocean coast of Angola. The roughly 4,000 mile expedition will take him across the landscape comprising parts of the territories of the African countries of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, DR Congo and Angola.

‘Equatoria: A walk across Africa’ is believed to be the first recorded solo traverse expedition ever attempted along this specific route.

Before I left for my filming trip across Zambia and Malawi (which I’ll tell you all about next week!), Julian was passing through Lilongwe, on his way to South Luangwa in Zambia to join Simon Pitt and our mobile team. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Julian and hearing all about his expedition adventures across Mozambique and Malawi.

northern Mozambique

Malawi is a densely populated country where you have to share the road with lots of people either walking or on bicycles. Julian was amazed with the amount of people that had taken the time to stop what they’re doing and truly walk along with him. I guess it’s also difficult for Malawians to understand why you would walk if you have other options.

Let’s hear from Julian:

“People are amazing, they would come by and say “Look, I’ll flag down a mini van, I’ll get you a ride.” And I would say “Well no, I’m walking” and they would say “No, no, no, I’ll give you a ride!”

In this day and age I think it’s truly the best way to see a country and to meet the people and to experience the daily life. There’s nothing like walking through these villages and hearing and feeling the entire village waking up. I’m very fortunate and yeah of course there are times I look back on it already and kinda say “Man, why didn’t I say I was going to go coast to coast in a Landrover! “

I trekked all the way from Pemba, on the Northern Indian Ocean coast of Mozambique, to a point within the bush where the government did not want me to go any further on foot because of the unpredictable wildlife. As a result I had to ride a motorcycle through the bush and then I continued to walk on to Lake Malawi (called Lake Nyassa in the Mozambican side), which I reached at the Mozambican village of Meponda.

northern MozambiqueJulian with Flag

So I got to this village called Meponda, still Mozambique, and I hired a boat that took me down the lake to Nokonjila, Malawi and then from there I hired another boat and crossed over to Senga Bay to the Livingstonia Beach Hotel.

I was so happy to walk upon the shore of Senga Bay, to be embraced by the English language and the Warm Heart of Africa was right there welcoming me! From there I walked all the way to Lilongwe.

On the boatMarrupa, Mozambique

Primarily, over the years I have conducted many expeditions to Africa and I’ve been travelling here since the mid 1990s and I was actually in Malawi for a month in the year 2000 and it seems that on all these expeditions and excursions I have taken to some 30 countries across the continent – I’ve always found myself for the most part a passenger in a 4×4 Landrover – zipping by watching the people and the culture, pass by the window. This trip I decided that I wanted to spend more time to get to know the place, the people, to experience the culture first hand and also to kind of go back to relate stories.

  Sunbird Livingstonia Hotel

So often (and nothing against the duty and challenges the media faces) it seems like the disaster today is replaced by the disaster tomorrow. Thus the untold stories about the African continent and the good people somewhere along the way fall between the lines. And so I’m going to write a book about my journey, my expedition and experience and about some of these people who stop their day to join my day and walk along and talk about their life and find about my life and talk about some of the social issues that face us all.

Sunset over Lake Malawimarket

Collectively, the only way we’ll be able to solve a lot of issues we all face is to talk about them between ourselves. Hopefully my expedition will inspire others to come to the African continent and slow down and see the place.

I’ve got a lovely wife and two small children. My daughter is 6 and my son is 10. I’ve promised my daughter that I would be home by the time she goes to her first day of school in September. And even if I have to fly home to do that and come back and finish the expedition I plan on keeping my promise.”

The day after we met, Julian headed to Zambia where our guiding team escorted him across the South Luangwa National Park. The plan is to walk over 100km across the National Park passing through the area where we conduct mobile walking safaris, up by Mupamadzi River. But this bit will have to come in a future Monday.

Until then you can follow Julian Monroe www.walkacrossafrica.org

Have a wonderful week,

rita

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