Kingsley Holgate

A Modern Day African Explorer

Kingsley Holgate setting off on the African Rainbow Expedition
Terry Hutson (Ports and Ships)

Kingsley Holgate is a modern day African Explorer in the tradition of the first Victorian adventurers. In the past decade he's led multiple expeditions throughout the continent traveling by foot, canoe, bicycle, inflatable raft, dhow and Land Rover. He's dealt with bandits, dangerous wildlife and many bouts of malaria to follow in the footsteps of his hero David Livingstone. With his trademark bushy gray beard, Kingsley is often photographed with a traditional Zulu calabash, which he fills with water to inaugurate each trip. The calabash is taken on the adventure and upon successful completion, the water is poured out in a thanksgiving ritual.

Kingsley Holgate's Expeditions

Cape Town to Cairo

One of Kingsley's greatest adventures was an epic journey from Cape Town to Cairo. A journey that is difficult enough by land but Kingsley decided to do the trip using inflatable boats on inland waterways. Kingsley reports from this trip:

"We filled the calabash in a force ten gale off Cape Point, made our way in stages up the South African Coast. Days, weeks and months followed as we launched our boats Q.E. 2 and "Bathtub" into strange and wonderful waterways Across Africa. The Okavango, the Zambezi from the Angolan border to the Sea, The Shire River, Lakes Malombe, Malawi, Rukwa, Tanganyika, Edward, George, Albert and Victoria. In the Serengeti we followed the largest migration of wildlife in the world. Malaria was ever-present and Jon the medic learned to rig up a Quinine drip from a tree, we got robbed more than once and soon learned to smile and wave a lot. Crocs and hippos were our constant companions."

The Zambezi in the Footsteps of Livingstone

Kingsley also crossed the continent in the footsteps of Livingstone and Stanley using inflatable boats to navigate the crocodile infested Zambezi river. Here's an excerpt from the Zambezi expedition:

"It took a week of negotiating and drinking Captain Morgan with UNITA before they would allow us up river into Angola. We smashed a gear box in the rapids and proceeded upstream with just the one boat. I was dragged off by UNITA, Gill and Ross were left with the boat, hours of interrogation and finally released because we like you and you never got angry" they said. A U.N. helicopter finds us on the river. They had heard we were dead. Gill ticked each obstacle off with a mark on the pontoon, 56 waterfalls, rapids, fish traps, low trees, rocks and logs."

Capricorn Adventure

In 2003 Kinglsey decided to take his family around the world along the Tropic of Capricorn. In his own words ...

"After crossing the railway line between Maputo and Zimbabwe near Combumune, a station on the line where people trading in hardwoods and charcoal had been waiting a week for a train, they attempted crossing the Limpopo by Land Rover, only to have to resort to fording by bicycle and inflatable rubber tubes."

African Rainbow Expedition ( June 2005)

Kingsley Holgate's latest expedition is a humanitarian adventure. His team is sailing in traditional dhow's along the east coast of Africa from Mozambique to the Kenya/Somalia border. En route they distribute mosquito nets soaked in insect repellent as well as other anti-malarial products.

Malaria is Africa's biggest killer and a simple mosquito net goes a long way to saving lives. Kingsley is using a Swahili speaking crew on the dhows and a convoy of Land Rovers carrying the mosquito nets follow as best they can. The calabash is along for the ride and we shall be checking in with him until the journey is complete.

Here's the latest from Kingsley at the time of writing (September 2005):

"Well it seems as if sometimes one has to risk lives to save lives - We rolled one of the Landys but she's back on her wheels and she's fine - Three of the expedition members including myself have been down with malaria already - Tropical ulcers are the order of the day - There are days when the sailing is a bit scary and then of course, Bruce getting knifed trying to save an outboard engine, he's recovering well and we're missing him and of course, expecting to join us again soon. Apart from that, it's a great adventure and entirely worthwhile!"

For more about Kingsley Holgate ...

  • Kingsley Holgate has his own web site where you can get the latest news and updates about current expeditions.
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