Video: Australian explorer, Kate Leeming sets off on an epic journey that will take her from the Kunene River mouth to the mouth of the Oranhe River. – Footage: Johan van Rooyen
CYCLING from the mouth of the Kunene River to the mouth of the Orange River along the 1 600 kilometre coastline on the beach has never been done in Namibia’s history, but one fearless female explorer is currently busy with gruelling task.
Kate Leeming from Australia in her previous expeditions on different continents of the world already cycled a distance greater than twice the circumference of the Earth at the equator.
Leeming over the past weekend set of from the Kunene River mouth in the far north eastern corner of Namibia and aims to reach the mouth of the Orange River at Oranjemund in little more than a month from now.
Leeming writes in her personal blog that the idea behind the historic journey is to prepare to make the first bicycle crossing of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole.
“I have undertaken training expeditions around the world which occurred in polar conditions, sand and high altitude. Cycling on sand is very similar to cycling on snow and the Skeleton Coast expedition will also help me to prepare physically and mentally for the Antarctic journey. The bike I will ride, a prototype which I have so far used in Northeast Greenland and along the sandy ephemeral Finke River in Central Australia, has been developed specifically for my Antarctic journey by Christini Technologies (USA). It is the first all-wheel drive fatbike and works very well in sand and snow,” she wrote.
The second art of the expedition is aimed at humanitarian assistance to disadvantaged communities along the route.
“I was deeply affected by many experiences from my previous African expedition. I am determined to make more of a tangible difference to the people whose land we will pass through. I have brought together a formidable team; my Indian partners, Global Himalayan Expeditions and local tour operator Jimmy Marais of Karibu Safari. In September we will undertake part two of the project, a humanitarian expedition to install a solar energy system to bring light and eventually improved access to education and economic empowerment to the remote village of Purros in Namibia’s northwest,” she added.
She said she will use the six week long cycle journey to pave the way for the September expedition, visiting Purros on the way up to the start and setting up education connections, especially in the centres of Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
This expedition will be an opportunity for Leeming to learn about and support some of the development needs of the local people. Leeming will endeavour to highlight the fragile ecology of the desert coast and the work of Namibian institutions to manage the ongoing conflicts between humans and the natural landscape.
After setting off from the Kunene River mouth Leeming plans to travel between 50 and 60 kilometres per day and she aims to finish the epic journey in 35 days.