This summer, Stuart Charters and Caroline Damgaard, members of the Challenge 2012: Pedal Africa expedition team, will cycle 4,000km across Southern Africa to raise money for One Water and the University Charities Campaign. Their journey will take two months and is being planned in association with the University of St Andrews Adventure Group (STAAG). The Saint’s RICHARD ELLISON caught up with the pair to find out more.
Richard Ellison: First of all, thank you for coming to talk to us about Challenge 2012: Pedal Africa. I’ve heard you’re starting your expedition in Mozambique?
Stuart Charters: Yes, we’re cycling from east to west, from Beira in Mozambique to Walvis Bay in Namibia. We’ll pass through Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, on to the Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta, and then head south through Botswana, before finally reaching Walvis Bay.
RE: Could you tell us a bit more about your team?
Caroline Damgaard: We’re a team of five St Andrews students: myself, Stuart, Rohit, Emmy and Ed. We’ve got students from a variety of backgrounds, including Sweden and Denmark, so we’re quite an international group. We’re all so excited to embark on such an adventure.
RE: What inspired you all to take part?
CD: The ‘Challenge’ concept is an exciting link between the Charities Campaign and STAAG, to do something a bit crazy and adventurous for charity each year. Last year, it was Challenge 2011: St Andrews to Mongolia, and this year, it’s us!
SC: I came up with the idea, and suggested it to the Challenge team. I’m a big cycling fan and last summer I did another cycle expedition with STAAG. I cycled from St Andrews to Istanbul and I basically wanted to do the same sort of thing again this summer.
RE: Why Africa?
CD: Well we chose Southern Africa partly for its natural environments. Most of the areas we’ll visit are known for their natural beauty; we’re going near lake Malawi and the northern part of Zimbabwe is something to see.
SC: There’s also a lake on the north border of Zimbabwe that looks like it’ll be absolutely stunning and we hope to spot hippos and crocodiles in the Okavango Delta. Another thing on the route that not many people have heard of is, and I’m not going to try and pronounce it, the world’s largest saltpan complex, renowned for its wildlife.
CD: Basically, an amazing feature of the trip in general is that we’ll be passing through many different environments, from forests to deserts.
SC: And, of course, there are great charities to support.
RE: Could you tell us a bit more about those causes?
SC: We’re raising money for several charities. We’re doing Pedal Africa in association with STAAG and the Charities Campaign and we are very honoured to be using their prestigious ‘Challenge’ title. And we’re also doing the trip with One Water, as they have a number of projects out there [in Africa]. One of the team members, Emmy, is particularly involved with One Water and it’s a fantastic cause. We will be visiting a pump that One Water in St Andrews has been able to provide in Malawi and we’ll hopefully see the difference it has made to the community.
RE: And finally, do you have any upcoming events?
SC: We’re organising a 24-hour cycle ride on Friday 13March. We’ll be starting at 1am on Friday morning, the team will be taking turns on one bike, and we’ll be cycling until 1am on Saturday morning. So people can come and support us; we’ll be doing it outside the union.
The Pedal Africa team will be setting off to Mozambique on 26 June. You can follow the team’s progress and find details of upcoming fundraising events at www.st-andrews.ac.uk/pedalafrica or www.facebook.com/PedalAfrica2012