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On September 23rd this year (2018), Peter van Kets and Jacques Marais will set off on a journey into the African Rift Valley as part of their second BEYOND EXPEDITIONS Project. This 13 000km African adventure – driven by DUNLOP and supported by ISUZU – will include a range of exhilarating adrenaline activities, culminating in a human-powered navigation of the Nile-Congo Divide in Rwanda.

This year will see them tackle their BEYOND THE RIFT VALLEY Expedition, an undertaking that has taken nearly 9 months of intensive planning. The first stage of the adventure will see an Advance #BTRV Team – led by Derek Devine – set off on the ‘Cape Town to Kigali’ Leg, a tortuous road journey of approximately 5 400km to the capital of Rwanda.


‘Le pays des mille collines’ ….. Ahhhh Rwanda!! The ‘land of a thousand hills’. A jewel in the heart of African When Jacques Marais and I first started contemplating the Beyond Expeditions possibilities the thought of doing something exciting (it can only be exciting) in Central Africa was without doubt tantalizing and hit the top of the expedition list quickly. Just contemplating the distances, the complex geography, the locals, the wars, the poverty, the lawlessness all mixed in with beautiful people, exquisite vistas, rugged mountains, Avatar like forests, ancient volcanoes, ice, snow and searing heat, the mountain gorillas, the chimps and massive rift lakes was just overwhelming. Could anything ever be more exciting? It was, after all, going to be an expedition worthy of the Victorian era’s writer, Sir H. Rider Haggards book King Solomons Mines which tells of an exploration of an uncharted region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain. It is the first ever English adventure novel set in Africa. I remember reading it as a child and being totally enthralled in the adventure of it all. Now we were setting up our plans to do the same 250 years later. This would be called Beyond the Rift Valley Expedition.

The expedition into central Africa will be permanently etched into my memory. An incredible adventure.

On 23 September, South African adventurer Peter van Kets and photojournalist Jacques Marais will embark on an ambitious exploration of the African Rift Valley to complete the first recorded human-powered navigation of the Nile-Congo Divide.  Their Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley expedition, driven by Dunlop and supported by Isuzu, will cover over 13 000km of wildest Africa – by vehicle, bike, boat and foot.

This is their second expedition in a five part series to highlight remote African regions under environmental threat. The first, Beyond the Desert Edge in 2017, took the adventure duo 970km on fat-bikes and mountain bikes through the inhospitable Skeleton Coast, Kaokoland, Damaraland and Dorob National Park regions, pedaling from the Cunene River in Angola to the Namibian coast.

The first stage of Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley has the support team, led by Derek Devine, driving 5400 km from Cape Town to Kigali in their trusted Isuzu off-road vehicles. From there, the real adventure begins, as the expedition attempts a world-first human-powered navigation along the Rwandan section of the Nile-Congo Divide.

It starts with trekking over 80 km through Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwest Rwanda, an ancient mountain rainforest and home to 13 species of primate. From there, van Kets will mountain bike 300 km over trail and dirt roads, through tea plantations and rural communities, past the recently-declared Gishwati-Mukura National Park before reaching the Virunga Mountains.

The Virunga range, home to critically-endangered mountain gorillas, has eight active and inactive volcanoes. The Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley expedition will summit three of the peaks – Karisimbi (the highest at 4,507 m), Bisoke (an active volcano of 3, 711 m) and Mount Sabyinyo, an extinct volcano of 3,645 m that marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The final four days of the expedition’s human-powered segment will involve paddling 115 km across Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, situated between Rwanda and the DRC. Along the way the team will visit fishing communities, rural farmers and protected islands where the Government is working with local people in an attempt to restore natural habitat.

Both van Kets and Marais are official ambassadors to Children in the Wilderness, a non-profit organisation that educates rural children on conservation and its relevance to their lives. “We explore wild places to draw attention to the importance of preserving them,” says van Kets. “Children in the Wilderness does this by educating the next generation; inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future. We encourage everyone who can support this worthwhile cause to do so and help protect Africa’s pristine wilderness areas.”  To make a donation or find out more visit the Children in the Wilderness website

The Republic of Rwanda, one of the smallest nations in Africa, arguably boasts some of the best-preserved sections of montane rainforest in central Africa, particularly along the watershed between the basins of the two river giants, the Nile to the east, and the Congo to the west. The vegetation varies from dense, indigenous forest to bamboo thickets, major grasslands and extensive marshes, mixed with cultivated farmland in the densely populated Rwandan interior.

As well as highlighting environmental threats to the region and supporting Children in the Wilderness, the Dunlop Beyond the Rift Valley expedition will serve as a real-world test for the latest series of Dunlop Grand Trek tyres which will be fitted to the trusted Isuzu off-road expedition vehicles. “It is very reassuring for us to use similar Dunlop tyres and Isuzu vehicles as in our previous expedition,” says van Kets. “It means we know we can trust our equipment 100% when the chips are down in a remote rainforest, thousands of km from back-up.”

Additional support comes from Front Runner (SA), who are supplying and fitting their full range of expedition equipment, and Hi-Tec (SA) who has geared team members with a range of technical garments that will help them cope with the variety of conditions they will encounter.

Beyond The Rift Valley


This expedition was the second in a series of five Beyond Expeditions with Jacques Marais. The idea was to drive from Cape Town to Rwanda to trek, mountain bike and kayak the length of the Great Nile Congo Divide. This range separates the Nile and Congo Rivers.

Support Distance travelled: 14880km

Temperature: -1° – 35°C

Crew Transport: 2 x Isuzu DBL Cab X-Raiders

Tyers: Dunlop AT3G tyres

Mountain Bike: Giant Anthem 29er 2

Kayaks: Vagabond Kayaks

Countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia and Rwanda


Peter Van Kets

Jacques Marais – Photographer

Pete Kirk – Videographer

Albertus Louw – Videographer

Dudley Wessels – Logistics

Igor Potgieter – Logistics

Derek Divine – Chief of logistics


Dunlop Tyres – South Africa

Isuzu – South Africa

FrontRunner – South Africa



16 – 19 Sept: Cape Town, RSA to Lusaka, Zambia – 2934km – Pure Drive Section #1 (Isuzu)
20 – 22 Sept:  Lusaka, Zambia to Kigali, Rwanda  –  2400km – Pure Drive Section #2 (Isuzu)
23-25 Sept:  Trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park – 85km (foot)
26-28 Sept:  MTB from Nyungwe & Bigowe to Kinigi – approx 350km (mountain bike)
29 Sept – 02 Oct: summiting Karisimbi, Bisoke & Sabyinyo volcanoes (+/- 10 000 m ascent)
3 – 5 Oct:  Paddling Lake Kivu – 155km (canoe)
6 – 9 Oct:  Children in the Wilderness / gorilla trekking
10 Oct:  Expedition vehicles return via Serengeti & Zanzibar  –  6 210km (Isuzu)


#BeyondTheRiftValley / #BTRV


Twitter: @beyondexped

Instagram: @beyondexped



Adapting to a new strategy. When we arrived at the start of the expedition in Rwanda we were told that we could not enter a certain area which denied us the opportunity to claim the first traverse of the Nile Congo Divide.


Trekking up Mount Karisimbi – third highest volcano in Africa.


Always be flexible with strategy. Things change!


You can read more about this in my next book “How much do you want it”nor go to the Peter Van Kets Youtube Channel to watch the 6 episode series about the expedition.