Around July/August 2017, probably while searching the net for information on THE seven summits, I stumbled on the website www.7summitsafrica.com by Great Migration Camps. Back then the site was promoting it as a new project and its inaugural expedition – climbing 7 mountains across 5 countries, in 7 weeks! Exciting stuff! On top of that you could support a cause associated with each mountain climb, mostly wildlife and conservation oriented but also including social causes like working conditions for porters on Mount Kilimanjaro. Departure would be late October: not too far away and I started following them on facebook.
Weeks passed quickly. When I visited the website again, late September, on the “team” page one could read about each participant, ending with “You?”… What?… They were looking for a photographer and I hadn’t seen this page before! In haste I wrote them on messenger. Yes, leaving for 7 weeks in just under a month would have been tight, I would have to cancel or reshuffle work in my calendar, but hey, you don’t get chances like this everyday so it was worth a shot. Sadly I was too late, even though it had taken them over two months to find somebody for the job. Bad luck, time to refocus on the here and now, yet keeping an eye on what was happening.
Beyond the mountains, already beautiful and particularly unique in some cases such as Mount Nyiragongo (a volcano with one of the largest and active lava lakes in the world), the itinerary combines mountaineering with Africa’s best wildlife experiences; Mountain Gorilla trekking in Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks as well as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and encounters with rhino and big cats in Ol Pejeta Conservancy at the foot of Mt Kenya. After climbing the latter, the team published the following video, which got me thinking that I might have a second chance to participate.
Through some more conversation with project leader Carel Verhoef in the first quarter of 2018, the opportunity of having two Mauritians on this year’s expedition came up. As you can see from the video, the project had taken another dimension and candidates would have to show an appropriate track record of climbing and exposure to altitude. I needed a Mauritian partner and my thoughts went straight to Teshil Gangaram – fit and skilled mountaineer with technical climbs under his belt, currently studying in the UK hence likely to have those 7 weeks to spare from late October to early December.
Once our application forms were sent, Carel sent “you two all good!” very quickly and here we are now excited to prepare for this unique opportunity. I’m thilled to discover this wild region of the world and make images of it, to encounter its wildlife, to meet its people and capture our team in action. Among others, long term goals of the project include conservation and strategic economic development: #7SummitsAfrica Expeditions bring people to renowned vulnerable areas, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The footprint and revenue brought to national parks and reserves beyond the mainstream tourism product, brings down the cost of conservation and helps protect habitat and species. 7 Summits Africa aims to contribute to the economic development of every region by bringing together private sector development , government and a powerful regional product to rival’s the world’s highest peaks and most popular adventure products.
We now have a facebook page dedicated to “Team Mauritius” so come follow us on there as we share our stories from preparation to execution! Teshil has some exciting climbs lined up in Europe in the coming months, while I train mostly here in Mauritius, throwing in some trekking and climbing on Reunion Island as well.
Finally I would like to thank the Mauritius Union Group for supporting us in this endeavour and we look forward to bringing Mauritius much closer to Africa during that time, then onto the top of the world in 2020!