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Mario Rigby (Eco-Adventurer)

On today’s Podcast, we have Mario Rigby, an Eco-Adventurer. Mario recounts his two-year solo trek walking and kayaking the length of Africa.

In 2018, Mario Rigby completed his two-year trek walking and kayaking the length of Africa—from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt—an adventure that would seem wild and impossible for many. This adventure allowed him to connect with communities and share their message and stories with the world with a mission of bridging the gap between humanity.

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His goal was to inspire people locally and globally to get out, be brave, and see the world. Mario continues his adventures as an eco-explorer, heading to all corners of the globe as sustainably as possible, often just by walking on his own two feet.

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He advocates for the inclusion of diversity in the outdoors and encourages people to explore the outdoors through sustainable forms of travel. In a world that’s rapidly changing, Mario believes his life lessons are worth sharing and hopes to inspire others to have more courage and address global issues that affect us all.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Mario Rigby

[00:00:00] Mario Rigby: Hello, and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast where explorers and adventurers tell their stories coming up. But what made it really surreal was like, it was just so beautiful. And then you could see like, cars that was just recently blown up and just like smoke coming, like chimneys the chimneys, like smoke chimneys everywhere.

But those were like little villages that were being burned or cars that were being burned or bullet holes everywhere. And it was just like, what is going on? And I remember like all of a sudden, you know, the trucks stops and then we hear like well, first we hear the AK 47 bullets that pop up above the truck stops.

And all of a sudden I’m thinking like, what is going on right now? Like, not just not where I’m, but I signed up for. Thanks so much for having me on the show, John appreciate it. Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. I’ve been meaning to get you on for so long. And you know, your story is incredible from [00:01:00] sort of how you started and your first big adventure to what you’re doing now for the people at home who don’t know who you are.

I always like to start at the beginning and who you are and sort of how you got started into this sort of world of adventure that you do now. Yeah, appreciate that. So yeah, I mean, I’m an equal Explorer. So what that means to me is essentially I gone expeditions like a classical Explorer, whether it’s you know joining a research team or doing it to advocate for climate change or social injustices.

So I typically go on expeditions that kind of bring light to those kinds of situations. And you know, also trying to promote like a sustainable way of traveling, whether that’s like ecotourism or trying to promote ecotourism or eco adventures [00:02:00] travels. And that’s kind of what my platform is all about and what I’m all about.

My claim to fame really is my walk across Africa, which was a two and a half year voyage from Cape town to Cairo. And it was in, it was done entirely by foot and 550 kilometers was done about, you know, in Malali by kayak. So that’s kind of how everything really started was my track walking along the length of the Africa.

Well, yeah, I mean it’s, it’s an absolutely incredible story that you have to tell and. We’ll sort of jump into that, but probably for people who deny you, your sort of your sort of upbringing was sort of moving around from, you know, Germany, Canada Turks and Caicos. [00:03:00] Is that how you pronounce it, Turks and Caicos, and that did that sort of moving around, discovering different places, different cultures.

Was that sort of how your love of adventure sort of how it sort of came about? I mean, absolutely. I, you know, when I was a kid in Germany, we used to go out on these like nature walks and nature playgrounds. It was very popular. It was my upbringing. So my first language and kind of my first real cultural experiences.

And you know, and Germans do like to, to go in the outdoors quite a lot. And then when we moved to the Turks and Caicos islands, my brother and my mom and my stepfather, we, you know, we, we were kind of we’re a bit different than the rest of the folks on the island, because I didn’t really speak any English.

And I’m just like island that looked like island boy who speaks [00:04:00] German. And so me and my brother, what we would do is we would you know, we would get together and go on these, like these, these massive hikes every single day, like we would go in the Bush and we would just forage and, you know, eat all the, the local fruits.

And we would go fishing. We eat the fresh fish and we would like kind of grill our food right there on the spot. And so the land became our playground. And so, you know, that’s kind of where. My love or my comfort for the outdoors really began. Oh, wow. Yeah. Cause it’s, it’s an incredible sort of story sort of moving around and as you say, that sort of love of different places but what’s sort of your big trip Africa.

How did that sort of come about? Because it’s an enormous undertaking that you took and that was your first big one. You didn’t go start small. You just went really big, straight at [00:05:00] the start. So, I mean, what was the sort of planning and the sort of beginnings of that? So I began planning this about nine months prior to going to Africa.

And you know, when I first started about it, I pretty much had a a kind of crisis in my life where I thought to myself, like, you know, what am I doing with my life? And if I keep going in this direction, I’m going to be trapped here forever. So, you know, I have two places to buy, either continue doing this and be dead inside, or I can decide to choose life.

And you know, by me choosing life, I started to look at my childhood and what really inspired me. And, you know, there was a show that black Panther in which to childhood before you became the king of Wakanda, he decided to go on this walk about which wasn’t shown in the movie. But, you know, there was that TV show back then there was a cartoon TV show that was very unpopular.

[00:06:00] And, you know, it was one of the only black superheroes that existed. So me and my brother would watch this religiously. And there’s this episode in which where to Charla decided to go on this walk about, around Africa to, to learn about the culture, his people and all that kind of stuff. And so, you know, that really inspired me.

That was in the back of my mind. Pretty much, you know, throughout my adult life, but I never saw that as something being viable or real until I went through this crisis where I had to decide two paths in my life and I decided to go in the path of life. That’s amazing. And the sort of before, before that, what were you doing?

So I was a fitness instructor and a personal trainer. I actually have my own studio downtown, Toronto, and I would, I would basically [00:07:00] program these, these really large bootcamps for people as well. So it was like these hardcore kind of bootcamps and training people. And, you know, that came from because of my love for, for track and field.

And I transitioned from track and field and I wanted to stay in fitness. I wanted to stay in something. That kept me fit and I can help other people achieve their fitness goals. And so I decided to go into this into this fitness life that I let. Oh, wow. And so you’re if you decide to Cape town, you been planning this for nine months and you sort of land you’ve got, do you know, did you know how long it was going to take you or was there no sort of time constraint on it?

You wanted to experience every moment and didn’t matter how long it took? Well, so before I went to Cape town I actually [00:08:00] did a couple of practice runs. So I walked from one city to the next and you know, that city was about 75 kilometers apart sorry 35 kilometers apart in Hamilton from Toronto to handle.

And that took me about 14 hours to walk. I had no idea what I was doing. I was wearing converse shoes. It was just really bad. And a couple of months leading up to, to, to the crossing Africa expedition, I was invited by my friend to, you know, while she challenged me, she said, Hey, why don’t you train?

Because she’s a as a speed walking coach and she just like super long endurance speed walks. And she said, listen, why don’t you do a walk with me from Toronto to Montreal, which is, you know, 500 plus kilometers took me 14 days. And I’ll train you [00:09:00] with everything that you need to know. And so we did a lot of over-training in terms of like, you know, walking 50 kilometer, 40 plus kilometers, like we’re talking massive days that took like 20 hours sometimes.

And I needed that in order to, to survive some of the harsher conditions in, in in Eastern Africa. Because you know, you don’t want to be distracted by, by walking when you’re distracted by so many other things. And I remember just a couple of months before Africa, you know, a lot of people started to realize like, now this is becoming real because this guy training for it, he’s advertising for it.

They put me on on the news local news, I was like, all right, no, absolutely must, must, must do this. And my mom bought me a ticket and she said, this is your birthday ticket. So on my 30th birthday, I [00:10:00] flew down to, to a Cape town. And what was the feelings going through your mind when you sort of landed just about to sort of prepare for this huge adventure.

Oh, it was so real. It was really another experience. Like, first of all, I’ve always my entire life. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa experience Africa. And now that I get to do like, you know, just kind of crazy exploration in this, on this continent was I was like, it was beyond my wildest dreams. So I was of course nervous, scared, excited.

I felt all the fields that you could possibly feel. But I remember when I landed and we went to the person who picked me up in Cape town, we drove to you know, like just this, this bar in like the central area. And I remember feeling the sensation of [00:11:00] like, I absolutely belong here. This is everything makes sense.

It’s like, this is what I’m supposed to be. And then from that bar, After being dropped off, you had probably what your backpack and supplies enough money for the two years, or was it sort of enough just to get sort of buying your sort of like by the end sort of scraping, what was the sort of plan in that respect?

Because I sort of heard there, none of which is I think really good thing, especially on like your first one is probably like here. When I, my first big one, it was like, you try and get sponsored. No one’s ever heard of you. No one thinks you can do it. So they all just pulling you off and just say, yeah, maybe when you come back, let’s we’ll hear about it, but other, and you just had no sponsorship for this big, big undertaking.

That’s yeah, that’s absolutely right. I had no sponsorship. In fact, I didn’t [00:12:00] really want sponsorship. I wanted to see if I was able to, to execute this on my own. And, you know, I was able to do that in a way that I was able to tell stories that I know that wouldn’t have been able to tell, had I been sponsored, you know, I didn’t want to just go to like every you know, beautiful hotel that was along the way I wanted to camp out in the wild and I wanted to, to, to have to do it the hard way.

You know, for me, it was kind of like a rites of passage, like, you know, like in the, in the TV show. And, and like, I’m sorry, the TV show black Panther, but it’s also what a lot of you know, tribal African people do as well, which is they go on this rites of passage in order to transition from childhood to adulthood.

And so I wanted to do something similar. But I know that you needed to, to, to, to kind of [00:13:00] suffer in order to see the. Yeah, I think that’s very true. I think you sort of said it so spot on in that respect. And so from Cape town, you’re moving up the east coast, you’re moving into all sorts of desolate places along the way after sort of leaving the major cities, how was the first sort of few weeks starting out for you?

So the second day, you know these kids cause actually came in, they, they stole my wallet and so, you know, that was a, I was a huge bummer because I thought, well, at least it happened earlier than later, but you know, they took enough money where it really put a dent into my into my expedition, but it also transitioned me from going.

You know, [00:14:00] to, you know, like, cause I had enough money say for at least a half of that expedition and then the other half was, you know donated or people helped me or getting like a free accommodation. So a lot of those things kind of like sustain me and you know, the kid stealing my wallet was really a way for me to, to, to, it forced me to to become friendly with people and to like, you know, to introduce myself to random strangers and to people who don’t even speak the language that I speak.

I think at the start that’s very sort of challenging to break out of the mold that you’re comfortable with in other places to sort of almost break free into what you really want. And that is to just be yourself to just be open, to be been rubble in a sense. Yeah. I feel like [00:15:00] you have to throw yourself into these situations.

You know, a lot of people will probably like say, oh, I I’m not ready for this. Or I need to slowly develop some skills. I have to like hype myself. No, you’re just, you’re never going to get it. If you do it this way, you just have to literally throw yourself in, go through a lot of mistakes and through those mistakes is how you learn.

Yeah. It’s so true. And so from there, you’re sort of moving up the east coast, you’ve been robbed on your second day and then you’re probably thinking, oh, is this the start of big things? Or it can only go, it can only get better from here. So how did it sort of go from there? You know what psychologically I told myself that this is beyond just one incident.

If, if me gang Rob right now, it’s going to stop me or slow me down. I believe that there were so many things ahead of [00:16:00] me, that would challenge me so greatly that, you know, for me, I made it become not a big deal at all. I thought to myself, you know what this is going to be a situation that I need to be able to, to deal with, even in the future, because I could get robbed halfway through or near the end of, of, of my expedition.

I can get shot at, I can get arrested. I can, you know, a lot of these different things going on and they have happened. And so I need to prepare my mind if I wasn’t ready at that time on the second day, then there was no way that I would’ve continued going on. You know, moving forward and sort of moving up.

Did you have issue other issues in South Africa? I mean, food. So, you know, there were definitely a food and water shortages. I remember I’m, I’m, I’m quite new to all of this, right? So I’m like [00:17:00] literally learning all of this on the spot. Like, like as I’m walking, I’m like, Aw man, like I’m like Googling and YouTube being literally as I’m walking, how to do certain things how to tie knots, how to, how to make sure that, you know, you, you retain as much water as possible.

You know, and these are the only reason I learned those things on the spot is because I didn’t realize that you have to know certain things before I went on the expedition. Like there’s only so much that people can give you tips on or that you can learn you know, within nine months. And so there are things that happened that I didn’t even know that I needed to do.

Like, you know, how to collect you know how to, how to catch fish, how to collect prawns. You know, screen scraping oyster, you know, all this different kinds of things like that. So like getting shells and digging at the top of [00:18:00] beaches to see if there’s any fresh water, I’m filtering water without a water filter, like all these different things were a challenge that I had to learn on the spot.

And again, South Africa was a really good place to learn this because I I went to the country that was to me the most inviting in terms of, you know, there’s a lot of people who were speaking English is, has like a very Euro Africa vibe. And, you know, for the large part of it is it’s actually quite developed, especially along the coast.

And so for me, I was, I kind of like was able to make a lot of these mistakes. So, you know, I ran into a few snakes, like a puff adder and a black Mamba snake. You know, those things like the black Mamba snake on the side of the road, I thought was a massive car tire, like, you know, from the, from the trucks.

[00:19:00] And you know, I started approached this thing and it was just like this long black slithery thing. And I’m just like, oh, it’s just a part of a tire. And all of a sudden it started like moving towards me and I’m like, what the actual heck is going on. And you know, obviously it didn’t get me because I’d be dead right now, but, you know, I was able to avoid.

Getting bit by or attacked by a black Mamba snake. I stepped on Pathfinders thinks I’ve met elephants and, you know, I’ve met some some people who weren’t very welcoming to me, you know in, in places where I would camp out in the wild. So it was, yeah, it was a really intense experience, but I think the most dangerous parts were really like crossing the dozens and dozens of rivers that I’ve had to cross.

That to me was the most dangerous we’re talking about, like crocodile, you know up the stream and then like [00:20:00] sharks doing figure eights, waiting out, out on the shores for the for the fresh fish to come out. So it was really like a very it was a very surreal and very harsh experience at the beginning, but it really toughened me up for the rest of the day.

For people who aren’t sort of familiar with the drug graphy of the east cased you sort of went SAFT cursed. Was he land, is that right? And then into, and then up that sort of route into Mozambique? Yeah. So I went up I sit along the east. Yeah, I sit along the east coast and basically I tried to stay on the beach on the coastal line as much as possible.

There were parts along the trans guy or the wild coast that it was kind of nearly impossible for me to, to traverse, well, not impossible, but I needed like rope climbing gear and all that kind of stuff, which I didn’t have [00:21:00] or like a mini boat. And from there I crossed over into Mozambique. And what was the, because you’ll have to forgive me, but they, at the moment, I think are in a sort of civil war at the moment.

And so what was the reception you sort of got when you arrived? Because this is going back quite a few years. And I usually, as you say, when you sort of go into these places, there’s a sort of fear and anticipation, but sometimes the locals are usually very sort of open and welcoming to P to sort of people that arrive.

What was the reception that you got and moves on beat? So when I arrived into Mozambique, I, you know, it was, it was incredibly warming. These people were so incredibly hospitable. It was kind of like my first real experience of, of like black Africans [00:22:00] really inviting me into their home. I didn’t really have that much of a reception from black Africans in South Africa.

There was this thing called xenophobia in which where, you know south Africans were, you know, feeling threatened of other African people coming in and taking their jobs and working for a lot of the white south Africans. And because they assist this mistrust between them. Right. And so they seek they seek workers from, from outside of South Africa.

And so I, you know, I I’m one of, I look like I could be one of those people, like maybe I’m Mozambican or, or something like that, but what made Muslim big, really an incredible experience was AAS. First of all, the people were incredibly hospitable friendly. It was one of the first places where I actually got to sleep in.

In communities [00:23:00] and people’s homes that were random strangers that I just met right there on the streets. I never happened in South Africa. And so that was a really incredible experience. And when I made it to my puto, which is the capital of Mozambique they actually did like a full, like a seven minutes series of me in Portuguese, which was really cool.

So the whole country got to see this crazy guy who was walking the length of Africa. And as soon as that came out, you know, I was like really popular on the road. People would like honk their cars, people, literally every five minutes people would stop their car, take a selfie and carry on. There would be people in villages, like literally random villages would come out and say like, good morning, Mr.

Rigby. And I feel like, what the heck is going on right now? Like who would have ever thought that you would just. Wake up in the middle of a [00:24:00] village and they all know you and, you know and also another thing too, is I, and I, I, you know, forgive me for forgetting his name, but the former president of Mozambique, who was the one who, who made most Ambiq independent, apparently me and him looked very similar with my beard out and I had a gap gap tooth.

And so the former president, he looked very similar to me. So people would either stop me because of that. Or they would stop me because I look like their former president. I probably worked quite nicely in your favor. And so sort of going round there, you sort of speak passionately about Mozambique. Is there sort of an amazing moment that you can recall from that sort of time there, like from one of the locals inviting you in a sort of moment that you sort of charity.

You know, there were a lot of those kinds of moments [00:25:00] like that it’s, it’s more about choosing which moment you know, like I could talk about like random village where like those matriarchal community invited me into their homes and you know, like completely random strangers and the compound is like full of women.

And, and they trusted me and they brought me into their home and I was able to pitch my tent on this like, beautiful compound. That’s just like, like, you know, with this beautiful rich Mozambican soil. And I remember we had a a dinner and we, you know, we had this fire circle and the whole family was there and it was just so peaceful.

And you look up into the sky and you just see these, you see the Milky way and like the clearest possible form that you could see. With all, its like insane stars, just like billions of them just shining right down at you. And so you feel [00:26:00] so connected, not just to, you know, our galaxy to the universe, but also to other people who are complete random strangers, but it makes you feel like, you know, we’re not random strangers.

We are all in this together. We’ve just kind of on this planet, separated ourselves and forgotten that we all come from the same family. No, very true. And then as you sort of made your way through man Mason, beak, you had a little incident with a truck, is that right? Yeah. So what ended up happening was I got picked up by Mozambican government soldiers, and they essentially forced me into the back of their military truck because there was.

Zone in which you cannot cross. And so, you know, I need a transport to go from across [00:27:00] this, this conflict zone is just bought a hundred hundred kilometers or so, and you know, this, this convoy what’s going through and they picked me up and we’re moving like really fast on this road, just this beautiful road, Palm trees on the side.

But what makes it surreal is that, you know, it was during sunset or what made it really surreal was like, it was just so beautiful. And then you could see like, cars that was just recently blown up and just like smoke coming, like chimneys chimney, like smoke chimneys everywhere. But those were like little villages that were being burned or cars that were being.

Or bullet holes everywhere. It was just like, what is going on? And I remember like all of a sudden, you know, the trucks stops and then we hear like well, first we hear the AK 47 bullets that pop up above the truck stops. And all of a sudden I’m [00:28:00] thinking like, what is going on right now? Like not, this is not where I’m what I signed up for.

And so what happened was these villages were shooting at us who are, you know they’ve joined forces with Renamo, which is the you know faction of the government. That’s gone basically you know, fighting against the, the, the official government. And so forces were shooting at us because they thought we were all military.

Right. I look kind of like a military and I’m on a military truck, so they’re firing at us. And then they started firing back. And this lasted for about 20. And I ended up recording this entire incident. Well, not the entire incident, but definitely like the first part of it. Yeah, just from my, from my phone.

And I did it in the back of the truck, realized that, okay, they could just RPG this truck because I saw all these other trucks that were blown up. [00:29:00] So he jumped out of the truck and started recording from the tall grass where I hit and started recording this entire incident. Wow. Luckily they didn’t think you’re the ex president.

Well, yeah. Well then maybe I w I w I would have been actually saved because that, that president was actually loved by both sides. I really, he was sort of holding the country together in a sense. Yeah. He was the first one to make a Mozambique independent country. So everywhere you go, there’s like a statue or something of him.

Wow. Amazing. And so from that sort of very. Well mixed, you know, amazing times and sorta quite hairy times, you sort of moved your way up probably then into sort of symbolic way Tanzania, Kenya area. Yeah. So I, I missed Zimbabwe. I was supposed to go into Zimbabwe, but instead I decided to go [00:30:00] towards Malawi and from allowing that’s why I decided to kayak because that lake goes from south to north.

And I thought to myself is a perfect opportunity to you know, to go up this, this lake and really experience proper indigenous and remote places that most people have never been to before or places where people have literally never seen a foreigner before particularly children. And so, yeah, I went through Malawi and then from allowing a crossover into tenancy, And so from L a Malawi, you, as you said, you say to kayak up, that’s quite a long route for anyone listing.

Yeah. It took me two months to kayak. That’s an incredible feat. And how did this sort of canoe sort of come about? Did you just buy one or? [00:31:00] Yeah, so it was funny because I was, I met this Italian guy and he his name is Francesco and he was a, an incredible incredible friend, really good friend.

And you know, we met at a hostel in Mozambique and Maputo, and we met about a couple of weeks afterwards. And another in another town he was already there for two weeks, but it took me two weeks to get there by foot. Right. So by the time I got there, he’s like, oh yeah, like I just remember you’re doing this walking thing.

And so I arrived and we became really close and he suggested, he said, Hey, listen why don’t like you try kayaking and I will walk Malawi. So this guy, so we decided to switch it up. So, you know, instead of me walking [00:32:00] Malawi I decided to kayak Malawi, which is actually already part of the plan. So the original plan for crossing Africa was to, to walk paddle and sail across the continent.

But I ended up just walking in kayak and which is way harder, but because the sailing part, I could have just see all the entire part, right. And so he was walking the length of it and I was kayaking and we, we would cross paths once in a while, but I would always be a few days ahead of him because it was just better in a straight line to go in a single direction when he had to let Chris cross and, and go through over mountains and whatnot.

So there were a lot of times where I was in jams and he was able to help me get out of it. Gosh, that’s incredible. And see, you’re sort of paddling around and then what just sort of campaign on the beach as you sort of go head on up, picking up [00:33:00] supplies along the way, and then, yeah. So I would, yeah, I would do it that way.

So like, there were times where I would buy, like, I would have like 20 bananas with me, like mini bananas, like already, like they’re all like still attached to this, to the stomp or whatever. And. You know, tried foods. There weren’t really that many selections of food through our Malawi and particularly in the places that I went to, just because, you know, poverty is, is a real thing over there.

For some particularly remote areas and you know, the world bank ranked Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Whether that’s sure or not, it’s definitely evident that, you know, I had, you know, on that, like in Malawi itself, I lost the most amount of weight because I could only eat what the local people eat.

Right. So I was like, there’s no way I’m not driving a truck where I can store a bunch of [00:34:00] stuff and and eat that. But no, I was literally just eating whatever the locals will be eating. And sometimes even like alcohol, almost like my field, because that was all, some of the villages had. So I w I would do that too.

And and then there, I would pitch my, my kayak and so many different places, like little islands Rocky islands beaches, marshlands, which are the most dangerous, because you never know if a crocodile or a hippo is going to come up, come at you. And I’ve had to sleep next to two hippos before. So that was, that was an experience on its own.

Or you might just you know, put your kayak in a place that you know, where people just really, aren’t really nice to, to, to foreigners or strangers or they might worship you, you know, it can go either way. You never know. It’s like [00:35:00] rolling dice. It say it’s that thing. Sometimes people are afraid of what they don’t know.

And so someone rocking up in a kayak never done, but probably very rarely done would be like, what, why is this guy? Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, they were, they were question. So superstition is like a real thing. And so they would question like, why, you know, w why are you doing these things? We’ve never seen, you know, someone that looks like you doing these kinds of expeditions before, or they wouldn’t even call it expedition.

We’ve never seen anyone that looks like you doing these kinds of sporting adventurous. Amazing. And so from there, did did your friend carry on with you or at the end of like Malawi, did he call it a day and you carried on then up? [00:36:00] No, he actually we crossed into the border together and as we got closer to the border, we ended up picking up friends along the way.

So we’ve had there were times where we’ve had like three other people join us. So there was at least. Six of us at one point. And it’s funny because, you know, when it up, you know, sometimes reaching places at different times, but then we would stay together for a week. Like for instance, in this, this kind of like backpacker in, in Malawi and you know, he ended up you know, falling for this one girl and she decided to just join him.

So she joined him while he’s joining me on my expedition. And they ended up falling in love and she carried all the way through. So she walked for about a week and a half [00:37:00] across Malawi. And. They, you know, funny enough, they ended up marrying last year, actually. So, you know, it was, it was really a match made in heaven.

Really? Yeah, exactly. It’s like a separate story within the story. It’s it’s pretty incredible. Oh God. That’s, that’s amazing to hear. And and then, yeah, see, you’re sort of moving on from lake Malawi into where are you going from there? You’re going into Tanzania or so, yeah, so I, over into Tanzania, this is where I suffered probably the most amount of pain.

So I’ve already lost a lot of weight. Malawi is really known for malaria and particularly cerebral malaria, and a lot of the people there, particularly the children, they, they suffer from tuberculosis and malaria. [00:38:00] You know, aids infections and stuff like that. And so there’s this really it’s a really a high death rate in amongst the youth in, in rural areas where medical, remote medical units can’t reach home.

However, that’s changing, I think quickly, and there’s a lot more support, but it’s still pretty bad. And so I actually, I contracted malaria cerebral malaria, which is the worst kind that you can get. And it was so bad. And I remember crossing the border. I happened to cross the border the same time that there were these two German girls who I met at the same hospital where Francesco had met his love.

And you know, I, you know, we were hanging out. I wasn’t like, we weren’t, like, we didn’t know each other for too long, but you know, we were happy that [00:39:00] we had crossed the border together and I started to feel a little bit woozy and, you know, there were nurses, so they said like, Hey, listen, I think you have malaria.

We need to take you to the hospital. So they ended up taking me to the hospital, taking care of me. We ended up actually spending over a week together. They made sure that I was okay, making sure that you know, that I wasn’t like passing out and, and getting the proper medical care. They even made sure that they communicated with my mom and everything like that.

So it was, again that’s, that was a really, really scary moment where I thought that my life was like, kind of, it was just like, almost like a flash, like it was just like withering away in the most painful, possible. Good. And so what you rested up just on the outskirts? Well, yeah, just on the edge of Tanzania before sort of, and what say it, must’ve taken you quite a few [00:40:00] weeks to sort of recover from that to sort of persevere on it did actually.

And so in those three weeks I decided to, to, to call it off for a bit just for just for a few weeks. And I ended up going detouring to Zanzibar and Zanzibar is on the coast. So but my walk was actually through the middle of Tanzania. And so I decided to, to go to, to to Zanzibar for a bit, and it was really such a magical experience.

Like Zanzibar is just this beautiful lush island that has so much history with, you know, the Ottoman empire, like Amani people who ruled. And then there’s like the east African slave trade that, that, that happened there too. And there’s a lot, you can see there’s a lot of evidence of trade between India the middle [00:41:00] east, the Chinese, the British, et cetera, et cetera.

So it was really like an incredible cultural experience, but also just a leisure, like just chilling out. And so it’s like a good time for me to chill out from getting shot at from getting arrested and from getting malaria. So I just needed, I needed a break. Yeah. Well, you’re sort of near the equator now.

You’re sort of heading up towards Tanzania and Kenya. Was it quite sort of quick through there? How did you sort of find so Tanzania was actually the quickest most, or actually, sorry. Kenya was the quickest country I crossed. Tanzania was started to get pretty quick too. It’s as soon as I got out of Malawi and further along the road in in Tanzania, it was really, they had a very one simple road that went through 10 [00:42:00] tinea and then that road connected also in Kenya.

And and that’s where I, I think through Kenya was the quickest walk that I’ve done in, I think, any other country, just because like, there was so much infrastructure already there. Like you could go from one guest house to the next, you don’t even have to think about it. Like to me, you know, coming from what I’ve already come from, it was, I was like, oh my God, there’s a guest house.

This is super easy for me now. You know, of course there were parts where like in Marsa bit, which is a desert where it was actually quite difficult to still traverse. And you still needed to, to, to, to do some proper survival things in order to, to, to traverse those parts. And where are you going?

Sort of the Nevada and Akira, or are you going up the coast towards sort of Diani Mombasa? Malindi that sort of route? [00:43:00] No, I went through the middle and so I had to cross I actually had to cross Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. And as I crossed, my Kenya actually ended up climbing up Mount Kenya.

So that was like a, another really cool experience as well. In fact, Africa is like the first place where I actually learned how to climb mountains. I climbed the first mountain in Malawi, the second mountain. And in Kenya, Oh, wow. And that is, it’s an incredible sort of around that sort of place, like a luckier and a new key.

It’s a sort of just very sort of beautiful scenery and you, must’ve got some incredible sunsets and sunrises as you I mean, I can tell you the best sunsets in the, in, in Eastern Africa for sure. [00:44:00] In Kenya. Well, I would say, yeah, Kenya is really nice. I would say the most beautiful sunsets I seen were in the trans guy close to Mozambique in Malawi and Mozambique probably.

And I think it’s just where Africa is situated in those regions. It’s just like, kind of like, you know, close, like south of the of the. You realize the sunsets are slightly different than what’s in the north of the equator. That’s really interesting. And what must be quite strange is going from Kenya into, I imagine it’s either Somalia or Sudan, South Sudan to sort of complete change of culture scenery more.

It was becoming probably more and more desolate desert area Barron. Is [00:45:00] that how you found it? Yeah. So before I got into a Sudan Ethiopia, right.

And if your appeal was actually incredibly populated, and I think if European was the first place where I had major culture shock it was just so much like, you know, I’m going into restaurants and, you know, I met this group of. These local women and they’re literally feeding me food with their hands and stuffing it in my mouth, you know?

And I’ve been with some I’ve hung out with these rubble, these rebel soldiers, former soldiers who fought the regime. You know, it was just like this regime who fought the government, sorry. And they were you know, camping with me just because they thought it was such a cool story of what I’m doing, that they wanted to [00:46:00] join me for a couple of days.

And so we did, and you know, this, this grown man who has like a gun in one hand, he has a gun. And when. And then the other hand, he’s eating the food and he’s feeding me this food and it’s like, you can’t even make this stuff up, man. This is like, I know with his left hand to that let’s see, he had his left-hand with the guy and then the right hand feeding the I even have a video of him. You know, I can’t wait to put all the footage together and put something out there for everyone to see, but there’s a there’s footage of him actually laughing kind of like a hyena cause he had smoked marijuana for the first time. I dunno where I got the marijuana [00:47:00] phone, but, you know, I gave it, I’m like, why not?

Why not give a rebel soldier with a gun in his hand, in a tent, in the middle of nowhere, some marijuana and see what happens. And yeah, so it ended up being really fun though. I obviously loved it. No. Yeah. And then, yeah, it’s a year you’re now sort of moving up Ethiopia. You are, you’ve had a bit of a shock into that, but did you find self Sudan was a bit more of a culture shock in terms of they is in South Sudan and the Syria law Sherri us.

So it’s actually so Northern Sudan so Southern Sudan, I couldn’t get into it’s just too. It was just too bad. Like it was just bombarded with civil conflict. So I wasn’t really allowed to go into there. I could, but then I wouldn’t be able to get into. The other countries. [00:48:00] So, you know, some of the moves were strategic.

If it was, if I could have it my way, I would have gone through Somalia via Kenya on the coast. So, but I couldn’t go on the coast. So I had to merge inland which then took me to Ethiopia because it’s a, you know, landlocked because it’s like, Eritrea is what takes the coast. So I would’ve gone Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia South Sudan and then Sudan, but I couldn’t have done those those trips.

So I did, if you Oprah straight into Sudan which is Shiria law. Yeah. And you know, it was my first kind of Sharia law experience. In fact, the first day that I, I made it up, I was wearing shorts and I was stopped by some special agent. Who literally made me right on the spot changed my changed my [00:49:00] pants to long fence.

Wow. Yeah. And what was your experience saying to Don like moving up? Well, Sudan shocked me, but in a different way that if you UPIA that, if YOKA shocked me, because it was just so overwhelming, the culture cultural but Sudan was overwhelming in terms of how hospitable, how beautiful the people were. It was probably one of the most inviting places I’ve ever been to in my life.

Everywhere you go, everyone’s trying to like accommodate you, feed you, whatever you need. And it, AI was such a, it was such a crazy, beautiful experience to be there. But I would say those were the small pockets of my experience. The larger pockets were just open desert. Like we’re talking like the white desert and walking from Khartoum to Khartoum [00:50:00] to to up to the white desert was probably one of the loneliest walks as well.

Like there’s a highway, but it’s just surrounding with, with desolate desolate land. And the places that saved me really were just gas stations. Right. So there would be like these kinds of like makeshift gas stations along the way. And they always had food. They always had something. So, and if they weren’t available at the time, then you, you know, they’d be around the next day.

Wow. Yeah. It’s and the space that training that you did in South Africa also replenishing all sorts to stop the sort of dehydration must’ve come in handy by now. Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. And as you sort of moved up, what was your sort of feelings like? Because you’ve probably been going now for a year and a half [00:51:00] or so about a year and a half.

And see how you are you sort of still with that huge sense after a year and a half with that enthusiasm that you had at the start, or as you come to the end, is it more like, I just need to complete this? I know it felt like I just need to complete this because there was always something incredibly interesting coming ahead.

I mean, if European in itself was insanely interesting. In fact I’m always like, ah, man, I, I want to stay longer, but you know, I have a mission. I felt the same way in Sudan. I felt, I wish I could see more of the pyramids are over 200 pyramids. There are more pyramids there than there are in Egypt. And some of them predate a lot of the pyramids in these.

So I was able to visit archeological sites that were over 3000 years old. I got to see ancient temples and, you [00:52:00] know, places that not a lot of people get to see, or, you know, or a lot of places that people haven’t even heard of that they don’t even know exists. But these are like major ancient societies that have existed.

And we know nothing about them to me that, that, that just like blew my mind. And I could just walk freely in these compounds where there’s like huge marble slabs of statues. And there’s no security, there’s no entrance fees. It’s just this open place. And so I decided I, so I was literally camping along the way in these ancient.

So there was always something interesting to see and to experience, and it was always different. And that’s kind of the beauty about about Africa is that, you know, there are some, you know, homogenous communities of course, but they’re also [00:53:00] slightly different in the sense that like the terrain changes there’s a lot of, you know, I started from this from the most Southern tip of Africa to the, to, to the north and there are varying climate and weather patterns that change.

So at that time, but also the seasons change. So I’m literally walking through seasons and I’m walking up and the temperature is getting hotter and hotter and harder and harder, or it’s changing to something else. I got to the point where the temperature was like 50 degrees, which is mindblowingly hot.

And we’re talking like, you know, like. My, I think I had wet clothes and they dried within like a couple of minutes. That’s all how it was. It was incredible. So yeah. No, it keeps you busy. And I never really felt like I wanted to completely end it until I made it near the end of Egypt. That’s kind of where I started to feel like, okay, I need [00:54:00] to really, I need to finish this now.

And so where did you finish and what was the sort of feelings like as you came to the end? So, ideally I wanted to finish in Alexandria because that’s just on the coast. I wanted to go from water to water, but you know, it was good enough for me to be like South Africa to Egypt. I don’t have to like specifically go to the, to the coast and also, you know, I ended up making it to To, to hire us to, to sorry.

What’s it called? So Cairo where are the pyramids? Yes, in Cairo, but it’s a place within Cairo that the, the, the anyways, [00:55:00] so forgive the name forgetting, but, oh, so I made it to Giza and by the time I made it to Giza, I, you know, I thought to myself, like, this is where the journey ends.

It’s just so spectacular. The fact that, you know, there’s these ancient pyramids that have been around for 4,000 years and they’re just like so dominant. I ended up just booking a hostel there that overlooks the pyramid from a roof deck. And I said to myself, this is the place where I’m going to end my.

There are moments when you’re sort of doing the sort of point to point trips where even just before you find that sort of euphoric place, which just has the fitting and to it. And you had that there. I mean, I imagine it was boiling hot. You’re sort of, as you [00:56:00] say, on this sort of outskirts of Cairo what was the sort of noises and the sort of sounds around you?

It was quite busy. So Cairo is a very aggressively busy city, you know, it can be very overwhelming if you’re not used to that. And I wasn’t really, I’m coming from like really quiet villages, you know, like I’m walking through cause I’m walking along the river now at this point now from Sudan, So starting from the white desert is when I started to follow the river now.

And I made it all the way up until until Giza where it just got really intensely busy. Like, you know, people just like selling your things and, you know, trying to haggle you. And, you know, it’s just, you know, especially old Cairo old Cairo is, is, is incredibly busy. It’s a such an ancient city [00:57:00] that’s built on top of another ancient city.

That’s just like a new cities on top of the old city. It’s, it’s really, it’s really intense to, to, to be there. But me being in in Giza at this hostel or we’re looking at the pyramids was actually one of the more peaceful places that I could’ve gone to. And a 15 end to finish your south to north Africa.

A hundred percent nice. And sort of from that, I mean, you’ve gone on to sort of DDS, incredible, you know, trips from cycling across Canada. And you’ve got more on the horizon as we spoke about before the podcast. And you know, when these happen we’ll show you sure you get you back, but it has been such an incredible story that you’ve just told

The story across Africa.

[00:58:00] So yeah, I mean, I, sometimes I reflect and I look back actually yesterday I think I S I looked at a photo and it was just like a random photo, you know, that came up on my reminders or like a memory thing on Google. And I was thinking like, wow, that, that time I remember the feeling that I had when I was in that place.

And that feeling was just like the overwhelming that euphoric feeling of like, you know, we’re all together in this, on earth. And, and that feeling of that earth is such a, it’s a, it’s a home. Like, it really feels like a home. And when you have that feeling, you don’t want to exploit people or land, or you don’t want to hoard things [00:59:00] for yourself.

You want to share. And this is a feeling and experience that I want everyone to feel. And I think it’s just for the goodness of yourself, because I think you can, you know, feeling gratitude is always a great feeling, but it’s also something that that transmits to, to other people that you’re interacting.

And hopefully that can spread. And I don’t know, I feel like the world could be a great place that way. So very true. So very true. Well, Mario, thank you so much for coming on today. I mean, there’s a part of the share where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being, what was the one gadget that you always take on these sort of expeditions?

A duct tape, a knife and a rope, [01:00:00] right? Four. Well, the rope what’s that far. So you’d be surprised actually, you know, every time I have to use the rough I’m like, man, I am so happy. I brought, I mean, it could be anything like you could be scaling a cliff for instance, and my backpack would be too low.

So I would just tie a rope and then I would lift the backpack from the top of the hill. I used to rope for tying it around my waist and an inflatable kind of floaty where I put my backpack in. That’s how it crossed rivers. Or we use it for, I would use it for for aligning my clothes for laundry.

I would use it for all different kinds of things, really like, I mean, yeah, yeah. Always bring a rope. Yeah. I mean, I’ve actually, so I brought a rope, especially on my [01:01:00] kayaking trips as well, because then you could, you know, you could carry things then float, ill float behind you. It’s just, there’s so many uses for her duct tape as well for blisters for ceiling torn clothes or, or, you know For sealing the tent that has any rip parts to it.

And then of course the knife is self explanatory. You need that for survival purposes. Yeah. And I, it’s always pretty, pretty important. I always think on these sort of trips. What about your favorite adventure travel book? So, I mean, I was reading the book what’s it called again? Oh, very popular small book.

Everyone read it. The alchemists. It [01:02:00] was a really interesting story because it was kind of like how I was going through this adventure. It was just, you know, it was just a very innocent lead up into the adventure. And then that led to like all these amazing and beautiful experiences that led to to lessons that I’ve learned along.

What would you say a really important, what was the one lesson? Do you feel that you took from that trip that I think humanity is innately. I think we’re all inherently good before. We’re bad. We’re taught to be bad. Yeah. Yeah. I probably agree. I agree with that. Why are these adventures important to you?

I think so they’re important to me because you know, humanity is always needed to explore and either you have it in your blood to explore or you or you [01:03:00] don’t. And you know, in me, like I just ever since I was a kid, as I explained earlier you know, I was just kind of like a wild child going out into the, into the Bush and learning how to survive.

But, you know, we need a new narrative of exploration and we need to put ourselves on the map so that we can show that there is diversity and the exploration world so that we can show that people can look different ways. You know, I’m gone at a time where, you know, the white European goes to Africa and says, and exploits the people in a way that shows that you know, African people are not useful, knowledgeable or have anything to share with us.

I think African people have so much to share and I’ve learned so much about humanity. [01:04:00] And I think that if we come together and we share our knowledge and experiences, the world would be such a we would, we would progress so incredibly. You know, knowledge and wisdom come together. Yeah. I think we have Benedict talent on and, you know, he just sort of, as you say, the move away from the sort of past exploration to the sort of nervous about sort of just learning and understanding rather than exploiting in a sense and say, yeah, that sort of sense, but the sort of sense of you just sort of learn so many different things, as he say, he went out to Papua New Guinea and he was there with this tribe in the middle of the rain forest that no one’s really ever seen.

And with it, he just went there and didn’t go with any sort of expectation or knowledge of them. And [01:05:00] from it, all he wanted to do was just learn. He just wanted to understand, he wasn’t going to say, oh, you shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t do this. It was just absurd. And then sort of seeing different parts of it.

Yeah. That’s beautiful. And I love to hear those stories and I, and I’m really and I love how the exploration world is changing in, into that mindset now. Like I’m seeing a lot more women explorers as well, and that’s great to see that you know, I’m not saying that they’ve been given opportunities, but they’re taking the opportunities and, and that’s, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Yeah, I agree. What about your favorite quote? Get out, be brave and see the world.

I’m not sure who said that. I’ll be brave and see the world. I [01:06:00] don’t know. I could’ve made it up. I don’t know, but I mean, you can double check it, but I can put your name below it if you like, you could. Yeah. I mean, hold on, let me search it right now. Real quick. Get out, be brave and see the world because I’m one of those people that, like, I always say I always say these kinds of things and you know, people say like, wow, that’s a great quote.

And I forget every single time. Yeah. I know what you mean. You sort of see a quiet forget about it and then you sort of reel it off. Like it was uranium. I don’t think I may. I think I might have just read that somewhere. Well I don’t see it anywhere. Okay. Well, there we go. A brand new quote. Yeah. So yeah, it might be, yeah, it might be, oh wait, I do see it.

However, guess what? It’s a photo of me, someone, someone put a photo of me with literally just that quote. [01:07:00] Yeah. That’s so funny. Well, there you go. You’re right. Personal Kuwait. Yeah. So that is that it’s mine. And if not, then I, I don’t feel bad. Like it’s just whatever it’s, what’s important is that we share that sentiment.

Finally, what are you doing now? Oh, wait. No, that’s not the one I wanted to ask. It was for people listening. What’s the one piece of advice you would give them for, you know, people wanting to do what you have done.

I think, you know, in order to do what you really love to do, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith, you know, and you have to trust in this leap. Hence the faith

and the people around you. Most likely going to be against what [01:08:00] you want to do because they themselves are afraid of jumping into this, this, this frontier that is unknown. It’s not taught to us in school. And so if this is something you want to do, look outside of the parameters of what school education tells you how to learn, tells you what to do, you know, look outside of the general wisdom of your, of your, of your friends and family, and look at the wisdom and knowledge of the people that you really admire.

Look at what they say, and really take their words to heart. Even me saying this right now, it’s, it’s the truth. And that truth is, you know, you have to take a leap of faith. You have to take a risk and that risk.

It’s just something that a lot of people are willing to do. [01:09:00] And that’s why the few people who do do those things that they love to do are rewarded tremendously for it. You know, whether that’s through life experience or wealth, or just basically just the love of doing that. That’s something you can only get.

If you take that big risk, you have to end right there. Sorry. Yeah. And I was going to add to that too. There’s no perfect timing. There’s literally no such thing as perfect timing. If you feel completely under prepared, that’s probably the perfect time. If you feel super scared and you have anxiety, that’s probably the perfect time.

What matters the most is going through. Seeing it to the end trust in the process, that’s it trust the process and Mario, how can people follow [01:10:00] you and your adventures and whatever you’re doing next? Well, I’m quite active on social media. So Instagram, which is at Mario Rippy you can follow me on, on Facebook or on my website, which is WW dot dot com.

And there I have you know, I have basically X, all my expeditions laid out in detail in block form as well. So I’ve also written a lot of blogs and you’ll see a lot of the videos that I’ve uploaded onto YouTube. That’s all on my website. Or you can go on my YouTube, but at the moment, right now, Instagram, YouTube are my two biggest platform.

And I suppose everyone listening is wondering what’s next. Well, what’s next is you know, I, I’m kind of supposed to keep it a secret, [01:11:00] but I can vaguely tell you that there might be a TV show coming up and that’s going to be pretty epic because you know, it’s doing what I really love to do. And it’s again about like, just really highlighting diversity in exploration.

And then there’s going to be some sailing around the world because I have some expeditions coming up in the near future where I want to sail across the Atlantic ocean. And so, you know, I’ll be doing some training this year and an expedition called the leukemia and trail expedition, which is a traverse of the Bahama islands.

You know, retracing, the roots and the history of the leukemia and people which have been wiped. And I’ll be kayaking the entire length of The Bahamas from Theresa Kinko’s to Miami using purely only the kayak. Amazing. Well, I’m sure everyone listening will be [01:12:00] following along and checking out your Instagram and YouTube, seeing those videos that you’ve been talking about on the podcast.

Yeah, I hope so. Thank you so much for showing that no worries where it’s been such a pleasure listening to your stories and I can’t thank you enough for coming on today. Really well. Thank you, John. And thank you all for listening. Well, that is it for today. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you got something out a bit.

If you did hit that like button and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

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