Eighty Days Across Africa and the Sahara Desert

Click here for the Africa/Trans Sahara Expedition website in China

April 6, 2009: Jin Fei Bao and Fei Xuan arrive in Accra the capital of Ghana to begin their African Adventure. Pictured below, they are met with a traditional Ghana welcome and two explorers wade into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They hope to do the same in the Red Sea at the end of their eighty-day journey.

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This link describes their amazing eighty-day itinerary -- Africa Crossing Itinerary

They had plannied to begin this journey in Senegal on March 15th but were refused visas due to some China/Senegal political problems. Robert Burch, of Montreal, Canada, who had helped plan this Africa trek, quickly rearranged the schedule and helped get the required visas. AND, he also met Fei Bao and Fei Xuan in Accra today and will accompany them north to the Bukina Faso border. Then he will return to Canada, as the two make their way to Mali. Fei Xuan, accompanied Jin Fei Bao on his Greenland crossing, and is a geoscientist.

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From the Ghana Press:

This historic expedition marks the first time a Chinese team will be crossing the Sahara Desert from west to east. During this historic journey, the Chinese team (led by China’s famed explorer Jin Fei Bao) will document environmental concerns such as desertification and the preservation of habitat for the protection of plant and animal species. They will also serve as goodwill ambassadors for China and hope to increase awareness among Chinese people of the potential that Africa holds for tourism opportunities and investment. The Ghana portion of the eighty-day expedition begins at the shore of the Atlantic Ocean on April 7 in Accra and ends on April 13 when the team enters Burkina Faso. The expedition will cross seven countries in all: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, where the journey will end at the Red Sea after a trek of more than 7800 kilometres.

Fei Xuan is a member of the Yunnan Committee of the CPPCC and Deputy Director of the Economic Council for the same committee. He is also the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Yunnan Association of Geosciences, and economic management expert for Geological Prospecting and Mining. Jin Fei Bao is based in Kunming and is the owner of a travel and adventure tour agency. Also a member of the CPPCC, he is known for his daring exploits, having faced many challenges in some of the harshest places on the planet. He has climbed Mount Everest and the highest mountains on seven continents, and has journeyed to both the North and South Poles on skis. Crossing the Sahara has been his dream and now becomes his next great adventure. In 2008, Jin Fei Bao and Fei Xuan completed China’s first crossing of Greenland, setting the first Chinese footprints on the icecaps of Greenland, and becoming “Heroes of China” and the pride of Yunnan. The expedition is sponsored by the Hongta Group and the People’s Government of Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, in association with the Yunnan Committee of China Association for Promoting Democracy. The team will utilise various modes of travel, including vehicles, by camel, trekking and river canoes. The expedition marks a new chapter in Chinese history in the Sahara by covering the longest mileage, crossing the most countries, and marking the first time the desert is being traversed from the west to the east by Chinese.

Beginning the trek in the climate and terrain of equatorial Africa will allow the team to observe firsthand the subtle changes in climate and topography as the trek continues north into the Sahel and ultimately into the forbidding landscapes of the great Sahara Desert.

During their time in Ghana, the team will meet with some members of the tourism industry and visit many of Ghana’s historical and natural attractions, including the forts at Cape Coast, Kakum Park, Kumasi, Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Kintampo Falls, Mole Park, Sirigu Pottery Village and the Paga Crocodile Pond. The team is particularly excited by this unique opportunity to personally meet so many of Africa’s diverse cultural and ethnic groups as they pursue their quest.

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April 6: Here is Fei Bao's first report from Africa:

We flew from Kunming to Beijing on April 2nd as the first leg of our trans-sahara expedition. As usual, in Beijing we were interviewed by the medias. We received many good luck wishes from many friends including the Governor of Yunnan Province, Mr. Qin, who sent a message and wished us to “create new miracles and to accomplish a full success.” And then we were met by Mr. Shao Qiwei, director of State Tourism Bureau. Mr. Shao greatly praised our plan and said that our expeditions are new and profound annotation to tourism and also a high-level transformation of tourism.

Then, as planned, we got on our airplane on April 6th and arrived in Accra, capital of Ghana which is our first country to cross at 12.00 GMT the next day. At the hotel we were greeted by traditional Ghana drummers and presented with a kente scarf, the national textile design of Ghana. A few hours later we made our way to the beach nearby to walk in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

After more than 20 hours flying, we were now of course, so tired and we need some time to rest and to recover from jet lag.

The Trans-Sahara Trek has officially begun and some 80 days from today we hope to step into the waters of the Red Sea after crossing the vast Sahara Desert.

Below are two maps of Wests Africa including Fei Bao's route from Accra to Bamako:

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April 7: Report #2

After nearly 20 hours' flying, we finally reached our first station, Accra, capital of Ghana. Walking down the airplane, a hot wave swept over my face, the burning air made it a little difficult for me to breathe. I suddenly know it will not be easy for me to get used such hot weather----I had always lived in my spring city and adventured in the extreme cold environment. Getting out of the entrance of the airport lobby, I saw a big figure in the distance, I started to feel happy when I saw this guy, he is my dear friend from Canada, Robert Burch, famous photographer, a descendant of a flying tiger. Robert is the most decisive guy and supporter for me during this Sahara expedition. He has personally been to Africa for more than 60 times and to Ghana for more than 20 times. He has really wide connections in Africa especially in Ghana. He designed and coordinated the whole of this Trans-Sahara adventure for me and Fei Xuan. He went to Ghana especially to send us off to the desert this time. With his profound connection, we may even be able to see the Ashanti king.

Robert gave each of us a warm hug, then he started to introduce to us about Ghana. Walking on the street of Ghana is like walking on his own backyard, from his knowledge about Ghana we could see how deep he loved the people here. Probably because of the excitement of seeing us, he went faster and faster in speaking and made it very hard for us to understand him. We could only guess from some individual word he used. When we were still trying to figure out his words, Robert took out two boxes of medicine and told us "malaria, malaria". On receiving the medicine I found it is a traditional Chinese medicine: Artesunate. Robert told us that this is very efficient medicine for curing malaria. As Chinese, of course we feel proud for the medicine.

Robert said in Africa, the most fearsome thing is mosquitoes. And when I asked him what was the second fearsome thing, he said, women!

Below: Accra street scene (Fei Xuan with guide); girl cooking; Robert Burch leading Fei Bao and Fei Xuan into a poor district.

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