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by Patrick Cruywagen, 7th July 2016

Later this month humanitarian Kingsley Holgate will attempt a world-first circumnavigation of southern Ethiopia’s Chew Bahir, an ocean of salt, by Land Rover and land yacht. LRM will be joining Kingsley and his crew to bring you the exclusive story.

In recent times LRM has done several features on Land Rover ambassador Kingsley Holgate who uses his Land Rovers and adventures to improve the lives of others. All the Kingsley Holgate Foundation humanitarian expeditions have a keen geographic and cultural link and this time is definitely no exception. 

A few weeks Kingsley and his crew left Johannesburg, South Africa in two new Land Rover Discovery 4s, nicknamed Turkana and Phokot, and a Defender 130, nicknamed Ndhlovukazi (The Great She-Elephant). They have a clear objective: to research and document some of Africa’s most fascinating nomadic tribes as well as bringing much-needed humanitarian support to people in remote villages in Northern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia and the war-ravaged South Sudan.

There are three humanitarian initiatives linked to the expedition. The first is malaria prevention and education; the expedition team have already handed out much-needed mosquito nets to pregnant mother with children while making their way through unstable northern Mozambique. They currently find themselves in southern Malawi as they head further north towards Kenya and their objectives. The second initiative is Mashozi's Rite to Sight – they plan on providing 5 000 pairs of spectacles to the elder folk in these remote areas. Then lastly they plan on distributing 3 000 LifeStraws which will provide people with clean drinking water, something which is not a given in these parts.

Kingsley has spent his life traveling the great continent of Africa, this latest expedition will be part of a series of once-off journeys called Africa’s Living Traditions.’ As the continent continues to westernise many of her traditions and cultures are fast disappearing. Hopefully this and future expeditions will help record some of these before they are lost forever.

LRM will fly into southern Ethiopia, where together with Kingsley we will we will interact with some of Africa's wildest and most interesting tribes such as Lake Turkana's El Molo people - considered numerically to be one of the smallest tribes on earth, the colourfully-dressed Rendille and Samburu tribes, the tough Turkana, the Dassanach - first recorded by the explorer Count Teleki Von Szek who discovered Chew Bahir and Lake Turkana for the world, the fearsome Ghabra and the South Ethiopian tribes of Borana, Konso, Wata, Burji and the Mursi, who are recognised by their unique clay lip plates, the lip loop of which, when large enough to fit over the wearers head, demands a bride price of fifty head of cattle. It’s a colourful world of song, dance, body scarifications, traditional dress, and cattle wars and it should make for a fascinating LRM feature. 

Then once they reach Chew Bahir - the great salt ocean - the geographic and adventure challenge will be a a world-first attempt to circumnavigate Chew Bahir by Land Rover and land yacht – it promises to be an adventure of epic proportions. According to reports received so far the adventure has been anything but plain sailing. Armed escorts, shootouts and gunmen in the night have been just some of the challenges that they have had to contend with. Hopefully by the time we join them in southern Ethiopia for the circumnavigation of Chew Bahir, the winds and travel gods will be with us. Watch this space. 

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