Saturday, 17 October 2020

Getting ready for CAIRO to CAPE TOWN

The current situation around the world is not something I need to explain really, and I'm certainly not going to bore you by adding yet another post to the internet millions on the pandemic and lockdowns. What I can say though is that there's a phoenix rising from the ashes and in my case, taking on the shape of an overland expedition from Cairo to Cape Town in 2021.

During August I was approached by Noa, a friend in Ushuaia, about travelling through Sudan in 2021. Needless to say this got me all fired up as in addition to not having visited Sudan yet, it was Africa - there where my heart will always be. She mentioned that they would be a group travelling from Cairo to Cape Town with 4x4 vehicles and filming a documentary. I dug in a bit and helped her with all the information that I could relative to overlanding in Africa although I obviously didn't know the details of the trip.

Only a few days later I found a message on my Messenger app from Jared Currie saying he's the Executive Producer of the documentary that Noa had told me about and asked if I would be interested in joining the project as a Consulting Producer. Now those who know me and know how I got involved in doing the West African expedition, would know that I couldn't even pretend to resist the temptation of saying yes in an instant, but I did! I thought if this was really worthwhile, then I need to at least have a good idea what the documentary is about and that I could align myself with the content they want to produce - meanwhile, the little expedition gnome on my shoulder is jumping up and down telling me that I should already be busy working...this little dude was not giving me much peace to whilst everything was flying through my brain like a force 5 tropical storm.

Well, I liked what I saw and said yes and we had a chat about the project GROWING to AFRICA and me briefing him on what I could help with. That same day I started digging into the information there was and immediately getting word out to friends in Africa, asking for status and location updates and info. Sleeping was not on my list of priorities, I was on a roll with something that I absolutely love doing - planning an expedition.

Working full-out! The cables of the Macbook has since
literally fried so I'm on only one now.

There were probably a few members of the expedition team just staring at their mobile phone and computer screens as I pummelled them with information, spreadsheets and on top of that asking for information. All in all an awesome team and everyone had travelled before albeit alone or with one other person, so expedition-wise this whole expedition planning and logistics thing I threw at them was probably a bit overwhelming, to say the least...and I will take the blame for kicking everyone out of their comfort zone although it wasn't meant badly. I want people to visiting Africa to have the best experience with the least hassles, or at worst, prepared for the hassles. 

Kudos to them all though, they swallowed all the big pills I was throwing at them and I think quickly realised that Marcell is in his element and doing what he does best, and is passionate about. I was pulling 15-18 hours a day with two laptops open and on calls and messaging through 5 different time zones, catching a siesta sort of between long sessions.

The initial idea was that I would submit a budget to be the remote Operations Manager and expedition support looking after them and coordinating everything, which I was happy to do. We needed to iron a few details out but yes, it was certainly workable and it was crucial there was someone at the side coordinating and managing the operations and logistics. But then, on 11 October 2020, in a team Zoom meeting, Jared asked the team what they thought about having me on the trip with them - me, like a monkey hearing a strange noise, my head sort of inclined and not really believing my ears, watched and listened what was going on...trying extremely hard to remain relatively "normal".

Andu (centre) and Noa (right) did manage to drag me 
away into the sun though.

All replied that they wanted me on board out there and even though I didn't jump up and down, only my ears limited the width of my smile! I was chuffed beyond words and on top of that, it was a great team to be working with. Of course, these expeditions are never simple and easy but that's what feeds the explorer and expeditioner in me...the challenges. Naturally I accepted, unsuccesfully pretending to think about it, and so the planning just shifted into a higher gear from a personal perspective for me too as I would be managing operations and logistics right through the expedition - a very attractive and alluring challenge!

Walking around Ushuaia with a bigger than normal smile, friends and acquaintances who already knew about the project, immediately assumed that I was now going with the expedition - apparently it's that obvious. So, here we are now getting into the last stretch - finding sponsors, refining equipment lists, planning alternative routes for the contingency plans, and getting down to the nitty-gritty of the details of filming permits (it's going to be an 11 episode documentary), visas that all have to come together in a nicely wrapped package.

Of course, I will be updating the blog about the progress and then on expedition as well as the team makes their way from Cairo, about 22,000 km south to Cape Town with an estimated departure date around March 2021. Check out the website and if you think someone could contribute to the expedition as sponsor, in any way, drop me an email and we'll get you onboard.


Tuesday, 11 August 2020

ADVISORY - Broken Photo links

 Hi all - a post this with some very sad news affecting the photos I share with you all!

Yesterday, 10 August 2020, I discovered that Flickr had deleted my account I've had since 2007 with about 35,000 photos! There had been no communication with me and after almost 48 hours, still no response from Flickr technical or support services

Edit: 14:00 11 Aug 2020 Flickr responded via Twitter message saying "The account was terminated for Terms of Use and Communty Guideline violations and will not be restored....We are not at liberty to discuss the specifics of accounts closed for violations,..."

So, this impacts my blog as well as in a big way as I had tried to save space by not physically uploading photos to the blog and website but linking them via URL to the original.

This means that these linked photos are now not available anymore and all you might see is a caption and a something indicating that the photo is not available - like in this following pic >> 

Some of the photos I might have access to on external hard drives but others may be lost forever. 

Hopefully I can rectify the situation soon and/or at least replace the photos with physical uploads, be it the original or an alternative.

I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thanks again for all the support so far,



Friday, 4 October 2019

Trekking in Ushuaia Winter, End of the World

Stream and rest spot along trail to Cerro del Medio, Ushuaia. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Early spring has arrived in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. The snowy season hasn’t gone yet this year, so I thought it a good time to take advantage of a relatively good day and trek to one of the mountains directly behind Ushuaia, Cerro del Medio (middle mountain). 

I headed off from 25 de Mayo street, pretty much in the centre of town, and ascended almost directly towards the mountains. After a few sets of stairs and short trail sections, I left the last houses behind onto the trail proper. This enters the forest where there was still a fair amount of snow although also a few muddy sections. 
Cerro del Medio forest section of the trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
Ascent through the forest.
Half an hour later on the trail it was only snow and the forest was looking amazing. Initially always on one or other side of the stream coming down, the sound of the bubbling water mixing with bird calls made for a tranquil atmosphere. In the first parts there were also various tracks in the snow, compacted to ice by many feet. This diminished substantially as I ascended more. 
Stream along the Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
Resting spot next to a stream running down from the mountain.
I reached a beautiful spot with a little bridge over the stream where there were also a few seats and a table made from cut tree trunks. (3.9km) From here there was only 2 sets of tracks continuing further up the mountain...and deeper snow. For the ascent I was using these tracks, limiting my chances of trekking deep and soft snow. 
Views from Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
View across Ushuaia toward the island of Navarino (Chile).
Although not steep, the trail was now constantly ascending and with the snow, becoming a bit energy-sapping at times. But, following the tracks was helping a lot and soon I was leaving the forest out onto the open snow slopes of the mountains. The views were just simply spectacular surrounded by a variety of peaks, the majority with their jagged splendour. 
Views of the Beagle Channel from the Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
View southeast toward the Beagle Channel.
During the trek through the forest, the trail is marked with yellow markers and reflectors on trees at reasonably regular intervals. Out here in the open snow, there were yellow stakes with reflectors - probably also at regular intervals but some were completely buried in the snow. At least I had the 3-4 day old tracks to follow and the gps, so I wasn’t going to get lost soon. 
Snow trail ascending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
Final sections: from here still had 20min to go.
The trail enters a type of valley between the mountains and then turns west up a ridge. Here the snow was getting decidedly deeper, even on the tracks at average 30-40cm. On the ridge and a bit of a scree slope not covered by snow (only about 10m wide) the trail turns heads almost south, approaching the summit from the “back”. Much steeper here with even deeper snow, the going was slow but I was close and motivated. 
Summit of Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
View east toward Monte Olivia (in the foreground) 
and Cinco Hermanos behind that.
The best of all is that as I reached these parts, the sun came out and stayed out. Even better was, hardly any wind!! With only a breeze and the sun shining, this was an absolutely winner of a day. So with everything now lit up with only some dark clouds as backdrop across the Beagle Channel, I reached the summit of Cerro del Medio at 948m altitude after 6.9km and 3h15. 
View over Ushuaia from summit of Cerro del Medio. Argentina
View from the summit: Ushuaia, the airports and the Beagle Channel
bordered in the south by the island of Navarino (Chile).
Just absorbing the views around me I was lost for words to describe really how breathtaking these views were. From the snow-covered mountains behind me, to the mountains and Beagle Channel east of Ushuaia, to the city, bay and airports below me to the west with the Chilean mountains west of Navarino Island. 
View over Ushuaia from summit of Cerro del Medio. Argentina
View across the Beagle Channel more west.
I had a flask of coffee with me so I was enjoying something warm to drink, not that it was actually cold. In the distance off the west though, the wind was starting to whip up the water so this peak would pretty soon be a very blowy place...time to head down. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
More summit views of the neighbouring mountains.
This time following on the tracks was not an option. With them being partially frozen, they’re super slippery on a descent so I descended to one side of them through the softer snow, many times at least knee deep. Just before the forest and inside, the snow was substantially deeper - hip deep. Even though I was descending reasonably quickly, there was not a moment I could take my eyes off the trail. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
On the descent at the rest spot and its little bridge.
All went well and I finally hit the streets of Ushuaia again. Arriving at the hostel (Refugio del Mochilero), I had completed 13.3km and a descent in 1h50. 
What a fantastic trek and straight from town and without needing any transport. I can really recommend this trek which in summer might be a bit easier in some senses without the snow. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
Part of the last 30min of the ascent - 
Cerro Dos Banderas looming east of the trail.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

Hidden Marvels of Chilean Tierra del Fuego

Faro Cabo Espiritu Santo in Chilean Tierra del Fuego
Cabo Espíritu Santo Lighthouse
There were rumours and there were even official brochures that mentioned them but...there was not a single photo nor the directions to an exact place...the caves apparently below the Cabo Espíritu Santo Lighthouse.


Friday, 9 August 2019

Fuelling a Ghost Town: Puerto Percy

Sunset in Puerto Percy ghost town through the broken panes of glass.
The silence was almost unearthly, even the wind seemed to be holding its breath. A gull scream followed by the clatter of a metal sheet shattered the moment, a moment left in shards like the numerous window frames. 

Abandoned in 1995, Puerto Percy is a relatively "young" ghost town.
Patagonian winds hammered at it from various angles across the plains of Tierra del Fuego ensuring that someone even remotely nervous would be looking around constantly at the banging and scratching sounds echoing through the air. 
This is probably not the type of place many would elect to stay the night but I liked it somehow and was going to stay two nights.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Como escoger un buen lugar para acampar

Acampando en Puerto Español, Bahía Aguirre - Peninsula Mitre
Caminaste en un lugar silvestre durante todo el día y solo te quedas con 2-3 horas más de luz, ya estas cansado y hambriento y ahora, tienes que encontrar un lugar para armar su carpa. Lo peor será si no puedes tener un buen descanso debido a las ramas que caen en la carpa o te mojas con el agua que corre hacia la carpa durante algunas lluvias intensas.

English version: How to choose a good site to camp

Entonces, qué cosas debes tener en cuenta al elegir un buen lugar para acampar? Acampar en áreas silvestres puede ser una de las mejores experiencias de tu vida, pero existen riesgos que se pueden mitigar en la naturaleza.

Estas son mis recomendaciones según mis experiencias y las de otros exploradores/excursionistas experimentados. Muy rara vez encontrará el sitio "perfecto" para acampar, pero tenga en cuenta los siguientes puntos para asegurarse de que su sitio sea lo más seguro posible en sus circunstancias y ubicación elegido.

Tómate tu tiempo y busca un buen lugar; quítate la mochila y explora los alrededores. (Asegúrate de recordar dónde dejaste tu mochila!)

Acampando a lado el Canal de Beagle, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Elegiendo el sitio para acampar


  • Agua para beber y cocinar es esencial. Trata de no estar muy lejos de una fuente de agua. Alternativamente, si sabes que estarás acampando lejos del agua, asegúrese de tener suficiente agua para beber, cocinar esa noche y la mañana siguiente.
  • Los arroyos glaciales y de montaña siempre son excelentes opciones, pero asegúrarte de tener en cuenta su distancia en caso de lluvia intensa e inundaciones repentinas. La primavera, por ejemplo, representa un riesgo mayor cuando la nieve se derrite arriba en las montañas.
  • Los turbales en Tierra del Fuego también son una gran fuente de agua dulce, algunos de los mejores filtros de agua en la naturaleza.
Camping agreste sur de El Calafate, Patagonia Argentina


  • Busque protección contra vientos fuertes y ráfagas.
    • Detrás de unas grandes rocas o arbustos densos. Es buena que tengas en cuenta que el viento fuerte todavía puede mover rocas de tamaño considerable.
    • Los bosques pueden proporcionar una buena protección contra el viento. Ver si hay ramas secas arriba que puedan desprenderse y caer sobre ti..
  • La entrada de la carpa no debe hacer frente al viento.
  • Fogata: evitar que se vuelan o estallen las chispas del fuego en dirección a la carpa.
  • Un buen viento mantiene bajos los insectos voladores.

  • Busca signos de agua que corran como colecciones de hojas y/o piedritas y surcos en el suelo.
  • Evita armar tu carpa en valles, cañones, huecos o cuevas poco profundas donde el agua de lluvia podría acumularse.
Acampando en las pampas de Patagonia Argentina

  • Clima caluroso: busca un lugar a la sombra donde puedes instalar tu carpa. 
  • Clima frío: el sol de la mañana siempre ayuda a secar la carpa un poco antes de empacar. Alternativamente, puedes secarla más, especialmente el piso, antes de armarla al final del día.
Acampando en Peninsula Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Tormentas eléctricas
  • No quieres ser la "antena" que conduce los rayos, así que tienes que evitar las grandes áreas de agua y cumbres donde serás el punto más alto.
  • Evita la proximidad a los árboles altos que pueden atraer rayos y resultar en troncos y ramas que caen sobre ti. 
  • Ten en cuenta que aunque la gente te diga que un lugar “nunca” recibe tormentas eléctricas, aún puede suceder.

Nieve y Frio
  • Los cañones y valles angostos pueden ser más fríos que los partes más altas, especialmente en lugares en altura (arriba de 2,500m.s.n.m). Sin embargo, recuerda que acampar en altitud siempre será más frío/fresco
    • Considera acampar antes de un gran ascenso si es posible.
  • Los bosques pueden darte algo más de protección contra el frío y minimizan el rocío y la escarcha.
Acampando en nieve en Patagonia Argentina
  • Revisa el área en busca de indicios de avalanchas anteriores y escombros de tierra como árboles rotos y cantos rodados. Evita acampar debajo de los "canales" o "pasajes" en la ladera de la montaña.
  • Aplana y compacta el área (huella) donde estará tu carpa. Esto asegura que tengas una base sólida para armar tu carpa.


  • Donde sea seguro hacer una fogata, tienes que ver si hay leña disponible
    • Si ha estado lloviendo, ver si hay madera seca en lugares que reciban menos lluvia, como detrás de rocas y árboles grandes. Muchas veces la madera todavía está seca en el centro después de la lluvia.
    • Coloca piedras alrededor de un parte de suelo sin pasto/plantas para el fuego.
    • Ten en cuenta la dirección y fuerza del viento.
    • Apaga el fuego y cubre con arena y/o piedras antes de irte a dormir.
  • Ver si hay árboles secos y ramas que pueden caer sobre ti.
Acampando en Peninsula Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Fauna & Flora
  • Asegurarte de saber qué animales puedes encontrar y los riesgos relevantes, antes de salir a caminar/hacer una excursión y acampar.
  • Evita partes con un gran volumen de huellas de animales como rutas hacia y desde lugares para beber.
  • Los lugares bien protegidos a menudo son frecuentados por animales.
  • Comprueba que no estás armando tu carpa en un nido de hormigas o cualquier concentración de insectos, arañas, etc.
  • Guarda tu comida en contenedores o bolsas herméticas para minimizar las posibilidades de que los animales busquen comida durante la noche.
    • Esto es especialmente cierto en lugares de uso alto donde muchos excursionistas se detienen para acampar regularmente; mejor evitar tales lugares si es posible.
  • Se deben evitar los arbustos espinosos y especialmente las plantas de tipo ortiga.
    • Si no puedes evitar estar cerca de arbustos espinosos, asegúrate de que no haya espinas ocultas en la hojarasca que no solo dañen el piso de la tienda, sino que también hagan que el campamento sea desagradable.
Acampando en Tierra del Fuego, Argentina


Superficie del suelo:
  • Busca un sitio plano y más o menos llano.
  • Los lugares herbosos no solo te brindan una superficie más suave para dormir sino que, en general, también facilitan la colocación de las estacas de la carpa.
  • Áreas más duras o pedregosas: busca rocas grandes, etc. a las que pueda atar las cuerdas de anclaje de la carpa.
  • Evita las áreas con rocas sueltas que puedan ser un signo de derrumbes o avalanchas anteriores.

Leer también:
(Hay traductor a español)
Equipo: Gearing up for Extreme Trekking - Peninsula Mitre 

Comida/viveres: Foodstuffs and Provisions in Peninsula Mitre

Parque Nacional de Los Glaciares, Patagonia Argentina


How to choose a good site to camp

Camping above Puerto Español, Bahía Aguirre - Peninsula Mitre
Wilderness trekking all day and only 2-3 hours of light left, tired and hungry, you have to now find a place to pitch your tent. The last thing you need is not getting a good rest because of branches falling on the tent or getting wet from water running into the tent during some heavy rains. 

Versión Español: Como escoger un buen lugar para acampar 

So what things do you need to take into consideration when choosing a place to camp? Camping in the wilderness can be some of the best experiences of your life but, there are risks that can be mitigated out there in the wild. 

These are my recommendations based on my experiences and that of other experienced trekkers/hikers. Very seldom that you will find the ‘perfect’ campsite but take the following points into consideration to ensure your site is as safe as possible in your given circumstances and location. 

Take your time and look for a good spot; take off your backpack and explore your surroundings. (Make sure you know where you left your backpack though!) 

Camping along the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Choosing the site to camp


  • Drinking and cooking water is essential. Try not to be too far from a water source. Alternatively if you know you will be camping far from water, ensure you have enough water for drinking, cooking for that night and the next morning. 
  • Glacial and mountain streams are always great options but ensure you take into account your distance from them in case of heavy rain and flash floods. Spring for example poses a larger risk with the snow melting higher up in the mountains. 
  • Bogs (turba in Tierra del Fuego) are also a great source of freshwater - some of nature’s best filters. 
Wilderness camping south of El Calafate, Patagonia Argentina


  • Look for protection from any potential strong wind and gusts. 
    • Behind some large boulders or dense shrubs. Keep in mind that strong wind can still move considerable-sized rocks.
    • Forests can provide great protection from wind. Lookout for branches above that may break off and fall on you…often referred to as widowmakers
  • Tent entrance should not face into the wind. 
  • Campfire: you want to avoid fiery sparks blowing in the direction of the tent. 
  • Decent wind keeps flying insects down. 

  • Look for signs of water rundown like collections of leaves and/or pebbles and furrows in the soil. 
  • Avoid pitching your tent in valleys, canyons, hollows or shallow caves where rainwater may potentially accumulate. 
Pampas camping in Patagonia Argentina

  • Hot weather: area where the tent will be in the shade. 
  • Cold weather: early morning sun always helps dry out the tent a bit before packing it up. Alternatively, drying it out more, especially the floor, before pitching it at the end of the day. 
Camping in Peninsula Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Lightning (electric storms)
  • You don't want to be the ‘antenna’ conducting the lighting, so avoid large areas of water and summits where you’ll be the highest point.
  • Avoid proximity to high trees that may attract lightning and result in trunks and branches falling on you.
  • Note that even though people may tell you a place “never” gets electric storms, it may still happen. 

Snow and Cold
  • Narrow canyons and valleys can be colder than areas a little higher, especially at higher altitudes. Remember though that camping at altitude will always be colder. 
    • Consider camping before a huge ascent if possible. 
  • Forests can provide some protection from cold and minimises the morning dew and frost. 
Snow camping in Patagonia Argentina
  • Check area for signs of previous avalanches and landslide debris like broken trees and boulders. Avoid camping below ‘channels’ or ‘passages’ in the mountainside. 
  • Flatten and compact the area (footprint) where your tent will be. This ensures you have a solid base to pitch your tent. 


  • Availability of firewood in places where it's safe to make a campfire
    • If it has been raining, check for dead wood in drier areas that get less rain like behind boulders and large trees. Many times the wood is still dry in the centre after the rain.
    • Put rocks around a patch of clear ground for the fire. 
    • Keep in mind wind direction and strength. 
    • Put out the fire and cover with sand and/or stones before going to sleep. 
  • Check out for dry trees and branches that may fall on you. 
Camping in Peninsula Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Wildlife & Plants
  • Ensure you know what animals you may encounter and the relevant risks, before heading out to hike/trek and camp. 
  • Avoid an area with a high volume of animal tracks like routes to and from drinking spots. 
  • Well sheltered spots are often frequented by animals. 
  • Check that you're not pitching your tent on an ant’s nest or any concentration of insects, spiders etc. 
  • Store your food in hermetically sealed containers or bags to minimise the chances of animals looking for food during the night. 
    • This is especially true in high use areas where many trekkers stop to camp regularly; best to avoid such places if at all possible. 
  • Thorny bushes and especially stinging type plants need to be avoided. 
    • If you can't avoid being near thorny bushes, make sure there are no thorns hidden in the leaf litter that will not only damage the tent floor but make for unpleasant camping. 
Camping in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina


  • You’ll be looking for a flat and reasonably level site. 
  • Grassy-type places not only give you a softer sleeping surface but also generally makes it easier to get the tent pegs in. 
  • Harder or stony areas: look for large rocks etc to which you can tie the tent anchor lines. 
  • Avoid areas with loose rocks that might be a sign of previous landslides or avalanches. 

Read as well:
Equipment: Gearing up for Extreme Trekking - Peninsula Mitre 

Foodstuffs: Foodstuffs and Provisions in Peninsula Mitre

Parque Nacional de Los Glaciares, Patagonia Argentina


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Trekking Paramount: expectations vs reality

Trekking Laguna Paron, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Nevados Paria, Garcilaso and Laguna Parón (lake)
Photos often don’t do justice to reality and this is especially true in many landscape photos - the biggest problem is that a photo cannot always convey the emotions and feelings of the moment. 

This was the case when I went on a trip to the Parón Valley (quebrada) to get some more photos and see what the trek is about. I had seen photos of this area although many had been taken from the classic/normal trail - this day was going to be anything but normal!