Well, it took 17 years from inception to delivery for Capricorn Expedition 1999 to happen. And now 18 years after that expedition, I have begun walking on Stage Two in South America.
On October 4th I began walking a wobbly line from the Pacific Ocean in Chile towards the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil.
So far I've walked across the Andes in Chile and am now in northern Argentina. By the middle of December I should be close to the Paraguay border. Eventually I'll go through the lush agricultural regions of Brazil, skirting the mega-human-jungle of Sao Paulo and finishing on the coast at the delightfully named Ubatuba (place of many canoes).
A minimum distance of 3600kms but probably more likely about 4000kms.
Unlike my 1999 journey, nearly the entire 2017 trip is following roads – from minor tracks across the Andes to major South American highways. As per crossing Australia, the hardest part of the journey is the first third. In Oz it was the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts: in Chile and Argentina it has been the Andes, and the Atacama, the world’s highest and driest desert.
There have been parts of the high Andes where I reached an altitude of 4660 metres, and it was physically challenging, mainly with being short of breath as I pulled TC2 up and along the road. Where I live in Australia is 93m ASL, so to walk at over 4000m was a totally new experience.
But overall, this journey, unlike most of CapX 1999, has been quite 'suburban' so far and not actually what I would call remote.
From this, with my 3 mates...
And of course the major difference this time is that there has been no camels! And so I have been carrying and carting all my gear.
My lead camel in 1999 was called TC (Tall Camel) but in 2017 I have TC2 - Top Cart. I am using the BenPacker Trek-Packer pictured above.
But there will be some connection to the camelid family as in Argentina I soon hope to trek with some Llamas over the foothills of the Andes, and that will be fascinating.
I have also had a support crew who stalked me for the first 40 days whilst I crossed the Andes in Chile.
Walking around the world via the Tropic of Capricorn was always the master plan, but things (life) happen and other events consume the balance. I originally intended to just go and not tell anyone what I was doing. Just turn up in Chile and start walking.
But then I thought about whom else could benefit from this journey? On CapX1999 I raised funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and this time I have decided to use the trip to raise awareness and money for Muscular Dystrophy Australia.
So consequently there has to be some planning with such a journey, but under the 6-month umbrella of a plan, it is essentially an open book. CapX17 is a more elastic and unpredictable experience, partly because it was an unknown as to how well I would cope pulling a 40kg cart and also because I won’t ‘be in my own backyard’, so everything is new.
Yes, by crossing another continent on foot this is a physical journey, but it’s actually also a voyage of the interior kind. I guess you could call it a sort of continuing pilgrimage, an immersion in cultures, and a cleansing meditation, perhaps even a healing.
That’s why I have tagged it ‘Walking The Inside Out To Ubatuba’, and as I found by walking across Australia, a journey has many elements – physical, emotional, transformational and inspirational, and parts of that walk deeply ingrained themselves into my psyche for the rest of my life.
So I continue the next chapter of the Great Walk.
More photos on my Facebook & Instagram pages!
Image courtesy of Michael Leunig