Thirty-six amazing photos from Mario Rigby, the Queen West-er who walked 12,000 kilometres across Africa
The Proclaimers have nothing on Mario Rigby. Sure, they say they’d walk 500 miles (and even 500 more), but Rigby, a Queen West-er and former fitness trainer who recently returned from a two-and-a-half-year trek up the eastern side of Africa—from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt—travelled a whopping 12,000 kilometers (almost 7,500 miles) entirely on foot.
Rigby started training slowly. First, he walked from his home near Queen and Ossington to the Eaton Centre, then up to Bloor Street. Once that five-kilometre trip felt easy, he kept increasing the distance, walking from Toronto to Hamilton and, eventually, from Toronto to Montreal.
He opted to walk his way through Africa because there is evidence that the eastern part of the continent was home to the earliest migration routes, and he wanted to follow them. Once he got going, Rigby walked about 30 kilometres a day. “If I really needed to push it, I could make it about 50,” he says—that is, if it wasn’t one of the days that blisters, dog bites, cramps or malaria didn’t slow him down.
Rigby missed the “buzzing restaurant life and diversity of food” in Toronto while away. But now that he’s back, he says he misses rolex—not the watches, but a street food with fried eggs stuffed in a crepe-like roll, and he hopes someone in Toronto will bring the dish here.
Rigby’s next journey will also include African destinations. The trip will focus on renewable energy and sustainable transport—he intends to travel using only electric and solar vehicles—and is set to take him from Norway to Morocco to South Africa and back to Morocco. Before he takes off again, we asked Rigby to share some pictures from his journey through Africa.
Cape Point in South Africa—at the extreme southwestern tip of the continent—was Rigby’s official staring point:
Rigby in Cape Point, getting used to the fact that the wildlife is a little wilder than the occasional crafty raccoon or squirrel:
The first of many pairs of insoles Rigby wore out:
With a view of the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa, the world’s highest commercial bungee jump site:
The tiny inflatable vessel that Rigby used to carry his gear over the waterlogged portions of his trip:
A map of Rigby’s revised route:
A donkey and a puss in Amapondo Port St Johns. All they’re missing is an ogre named Shrek:
More than a year after his trek began, Rigby was still in South Africa, at Leopard’s Rock:
Getting up close and personal with some rhinos (probably not recommended for the average tourist):
Seeing these incredibly rare white rhinos was such a treat. There is an estimated 20,000 southern white rhinos left with even fewer northern white rhinos left, there's an estimated of 3 confirmed sightings. Unfortunately these beautiful creatures are being pouched everyday for their horns, which actually have no scientific medical benefits. The current poaching crisis is attributed to the growing demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, mainly Vietnam and China.
And a zebra, for good measure:
Next time someone thinks they’re clever for MacGyver-ing an apple into a pipe, show them this picture. It’s a cow horn:
Once in Mozambique, Rigby visited a town called Ponta do Ouro:
North Americans may forget there’s an ocean to snorkel or scuba in Mozambique:
After 5 months in Mozambique, Rigby moved on to Malawi, where he did more snorkelling:
Here’s Malawi’s 3,002-metre Mount Mulanje, which Rigby climbed:
I've climbed Mt. Mulanje and I have never felt more challenged before in my life then in those last 3 days. My friend Flora I met through Couchsurfing decided to join me last minute and missions climbing and hiking up 3002 metres high. This mountain might seem small compared to the massive 5000m to 8000m mountains but the change of rock climbing and vertical walls made this a fantastic challenge. I've made some wonderful videos which I'll post up soon. #EarthFocus
There were roadblocks, like a nearly sunk kayak in Lake Malawi. Here’s the kayak in question, with curious locals, many of whom had never seen a black person speak English:
Update so far… It's been hectic, pushing 30 to 50km per day to make up lost time in Nkhata Bay. Impossible to sleep anywhere without children, sometimes of the hundreds bombarding. You want to stay sane and smiling but the tiredness gets to you. … In each village (or random beach) I have to meet with the chief (the guy in the white shirt) and he is the ones who decides whether I can stay or not. Some of these people along Lake Malawi have never seen a foreigner, so for me to speak English with a black face is completely alien to them. … Today I had some problems with the kayak, where it nearly went sinking 2km out in the lake. That was the scariest moment, forget the 3 – 4 metre waves, they're fun. But having your boat sink while adrift can really get your nerves going. I managed to swim ashore (along some rocks) which had me completely scraped up from head to toe. But I survived and managed to save the kayak as well. Lesson well learned. I might not make another post until I arrive in Nkhata Bay 6 days from more. .. Cheers! #kayak #kayaking #canoeing #canoe #kayakexpedition #lakelife
Rigby says this picture of him and some children in Malawi is one of his favourites of the whole trip:
Rigby was welcomed to Tanzania by more kids:
It’s not quite hot dog legs, but here’s Rigby’s beach picture from Zanzibar:
Here he is in Dodoma, Tanzania, his halfway point:
After two months in Tanzania, Rigby landed in Kenya:
Here he is with the Turkana people near Turkana Lake in Kenya:
Rigby stayed in the homes of the Hamer Tribe once in Ethiopia:
He also dove into some tibs:
More baboons, this time in Ethiopia:
Plus, 17th-century castles:
Rigby made it to Sudan about a year and a half into the journey:
These are taamia, an Egyptian falafel made with split fava beans:
The Temple of Amun dates back to the 13th century BC:
ANCIENT TEMPLE OF MEROE We went camping and it was one of the most incredible camping sites I've ever been to. We got to pitch our tents under the night sky with bright stars atop The ancient civilization of Meroe. Also got to climb Jebel Barkal where.we oversaw the temples and the Nile. Shot by @mandelagregoire #ancienttemples #pyramids #pyramidsofmeroe #jebelbarkal #templesofamun #ancienthistory #blackvoyageurs
And these Sudanese pyramids in Meroë predate the Egyptian ones:
Here are the ancient #pyramids in Sudan that predate the ones in Egypt. After so many days, months, years of intense walking, escaping conflicts, arrests and 700km of kayaking across one of the largest lakes in the world I've arrived to the first pyramids in Africa. #sudanpyramids #pyramidsofmeroe #journal
Two years in, Rigby arrived in Egypt:
Here’s a pretty majestic sand dune:
Construction on the Luxor temple began in 1100 BC. It looks a little different than the place it inspired in Las Vegas:
Just as you walk along the beautiful cobblestone sidewalks that overlooks the west bank across the river Nile to your left you find this beautiful ancient temple dating back to 1400BCE right within the city of Luxor. Unlike the other temples, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. Instead Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually like Alexander the Great. #luxortemple #luxor #ancientegypt
Another shot from the Luxor:
And here’s the money shot—a shirtless Rigby posing in Cairo with the pyramids in the background:
What does Crossing Africa by foot feel like? Mostly like this! But I won't rest for too long. Need to write a book, plan the next big adventure and get back to my health and strength. Peace and love to everyone that showed love and thanks so much for everyone's congratulations, I am overwhelmingly flattered and grateful.
A detour to Uganda led Rigby to a school for displaced youth, where he gave the students a memorable talk:
I did something today that will forever change my fate. I did a detour to do a Talk in Gulu district at Hope School where displaced youth and former child soldiers from South Sudan come to rehabilitate their lives from the wars and conflicts. I was standing aside Forest Whitaker and some prominent leaders in fortune 500 companies. We spoke to the youth to mentor and encourage leadership roles. I was asked very tough and emotional questions by the youth as they addressed me as their youth brother. One of the many tough questions was "How as a youth with little hope can we expect to move forward and become successful leaders?" From this point forward my life is directly for those youth such as the many South Sudanese displaced people i met today. . . #uganda #gulu #savethechildren #southsudan #childsoldiers