Dispatch 46 - PRESIDENTS HONOUR BOUNDLESS ADVENTURERS
It came as a great surprise! To think that the successful completion of our humble Boundless Southern Africa Expedition to link 2 oceans, 9 countries, 7 Transfrontier Conservation Areas, more than 30 nature reserves and game parks and the communities living in and adjacent to these areas, was now being honoured with a full on Namibian presidential event. It all happened on a cold morning after a blessing of rain at the Southern extreme of the great sand ocean of the ancient Namib, the hands of the Ministers of Environmental Affairs and Tourism from across Southern Africa all holding the symbolic calabash filled with water from iconic wild places which as part of the 'end of expedition' ceremony was now being emptied into the Mouth of the Orange River where it runs into the cold South Atlantic at Oranjemund. We felt proud to have helped keep the Peace Parks vision of Transfrontier Conservation alive and in so doing to have created what will become one of the greatest coast-to-coast 4x4 adventure routes in the world.
Later in the diamond mining town of Oranjemund, where the Gemsbok still have right of way, with lights on, led by Mike Nixon' s mountain bike team, we drove the expedition Land Rover convoy into the presidential event at the floodlit cricket oval. Pomp and ceremony, executive jets and helicopters, body guards and suites, media cameras galore, green grass, white tents and red carpets. After having just crossed the Sperrgebiet it felt like another world. BUT rewarding nevertheless as in speeches interrupted by wonderful cultural performance, the Presidents of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, together with Ministers of environment, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the South African High Commissioner to Namibia, all congratulated the expedition on the Boundless Soccer Challenge, the community box libraries, the LifeStraws, the Rite to Sight campaign, the nature, culture and community themed art competitions and the on-going One Net One Life malaria prevention work. Once again we' d used adventure to improve people' s lives.
Our colourful diamond area 'digs' for the night was Gert and Nita' s rough plank built bar at the Shepherd' s Lodge where we raised our glasses in a final Captain Morgan salute to a great adventure - we' d done what we came to do and had survived another world first expedition - a fitting end to the Boundless Southern Africa Expedition to link Nature, Culture and Community across Southern Africa and to create one of the greatest coast to coast adventure routes in the world - we' ll keep you posted.