(By Correne Coetzer) South African adventurer, De Bruyn Joubert is on a mission to cycle through the 7 Continents. He started August 30, 2013 and has already completed Australia, Europe and is currently 3000km into Asia.
With Antarctica also on his list, ExplorersWeb asked him if he had followed the cyclists who had tried and tested this new mode of traveling last season to the South Pole. Currently De Bruyn is in Tehran, Iran, where he is applying for visas to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan en Tajikistan, and told ExWeb about selling all his belongings to do this adventure and about some close encounters he had as a lone cyclist.
Where did the idea come from? How much time did you spend on preparation and planning before you have hit the road?
De Bruyn: I have always been very adventurous and about 10 years ago I saw Riaan Manser finish his cycle around Africa. Since then I have always wanted to cycle through Africa. In the beginning of 2013 I was backpacking through South East Asia and on the trip I decided that it was now the time to take on Africa with a bicycle.
I made the decision the end of January 2013 and started to plan from that point. As I was planning the adventure kept growing and ended up deciding to cycle through all the continents. I returned to South Africa the end of April and spent four more months planning and getting everything in place to start in September. So in total I did my planning for about seven months and I did not really get the chance to prepare physically, as every single minute went into the planing of the adventure.
How do you decide where your route should go through a continent and a country?
De Bruyn: During the planning process I planned on which countries I would like to cycle through, most of which I have not been to before. It is impossible to work out a specific route beforehand, so at the moment I'm constantly planning routes as I go. Due to some country instability (like the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan) I needed to adjust and skip some of these countries where I would have loved to cycle through.
Money-wise, this is pretty much on a shoe-string? How do you budget and handle the money matters in each country?
De Bruyn: Money… well, I sold everything back home to get the adventure started and to get me through some of the continents. I''m currently seeking a company that will be interested in becoming a financial sponsor to help with Visas, food and some accommodation for emergencies. I have a basic daily budget which I use to buy the necessities like food and Visas for each country.
I use credit cards in general and try to keep cash of not more than $100 on myself. But things change through each and every country I cycle through. At them moment I'm in Iran where you can’t use any Credit Cards or travellers checks.
You also want to go to Antarctica with your bike. Have you followed the adventurers with their bikes last season on the ice? If yes, What have you learned from them? What do you think is key to successfully cycling on Antarctica? What type of bike would you use there? What route do you plan to take? Which season (year)?
De Bruyn: Yeah, I kept a very close eye on them as they were doing their adventure. I have also followed many other adventures in the Arctic and Antarctica in the past and present. Every single adventure teaches you something about the environment, weather, food, gear they use and most importantly how important it is to be mentally prepared. You can never learn enough before stepping onto a place like Antarctica, the coldest, driest and windiest continent on earth.
The biggest part of the success toward the Antarctica continent is planning, learning and following other adventures to gain as much knowledge as possible. The biggest and most important things is to be mentally and physically prepared. I have some route ideas, but this is not the most important thing about Antarctica to currently focus on.
My current plan is to use a Fatbike, but still considers to make a few changes and testing all these options before I can set off on Antarctica.
I will cycle during the Antarctic summer and if everything is going according to plan, I would like to do it the end of 2015 (next year). I'm currently seeking companies which wants to come on-board and TV, as I would be recording my progress the whole cycle through the icy continent.
What type of bike do you use now?
De Bruyn: I am currently using a Santos Travelmaster 2.6.
What are your must-have items in you panniers?
De Bruyn: My Canon camera, iPad and Leatherman, which I all ’use on a daily basis.
What were the most scary moments you had so far?
De Bruyn: I was once cornered by young locals in Iran, where the situation heated up a little, but got away as quickly as possible. There has also been a few times when people came up to my tent in the middle of the night in very remote places and there was two occasions when wild dogs became a little aggressive outside my tent.
How easy/difficult/safe is it to get camping spots at night?
De Bruyn: It all depends where I am, but it is much easier than I thought before I started. I'm setting out one and a half hour before dark to look for a camping spot. Most places are safe, as I try to find places where nobody will spot me before and after dark, but it's not always possible.
Not being in a vehicle makes contact with nature and the landscape very close. What were you best moments and most different landscapes you cycled through?
De Bruyn: This is an extremely hard question as I have been through so many beautiful and peaceful places. But some of the standout locations was The Nullarbor in Australia, Czech Republic and the Bulkans.
How do you experience the people you come across?
De Bruyn: In general people are extremely friendly and helpful. It does not matter where you are, there will always be someone that want to help to give directions, chat and offers food. Until this point the people of Iran has been by far the friendliest and hospitable on my adventure.
You are now in Iran. Is it safe there on your bicycle? (Guess people ask that about South Africa as well)
De Bruyn: It does not matter which country you travel through, you always need to look out for certain kind of people. I had one incident in Iran, but except from that the people has been more friendly than any country I have been in my life. I'm joining people and families a few times every day to enjoy some tea, eat meals they offer me and just have some conversations. Iran has been a great experience until this point!
Can you also please mention that :
- Im creating awareness for Riaan Manser’s charity No Food For Lazy Man
- People can follow me at:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/around7continents
- Twitter: @debruynjoubert
- and if any company wants to become a Sponsor of Around 7 Continents, they can contact me directly
- follow De Bruyn’s blog in the Dispatch Stream on ExplorersWeb
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