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A world-first attempt to land-yacht Chew Bahir – Ethiopia’s dry, salt lake.


  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania

The Adventure

When Ross was only 16, he and Kingsley nearly succumbed to thirst and exhaustion when they were becalmed during a crazy, solo attempt to land yacht the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana at the wrong time of the year. Undeterred, they returned a few years later with a full back-up team and succeeded in a world-first circumnavigation of the Makgadikgadi by land yacht.

But no-one had ever land yachted Lake Chew Bahir in southern Ethiopia – a dust-devilled, barren, blistering hot and dry salt lake on the floor of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. In 2016, the Kingsley Holgate expedition team reached this desolate place and achieved another adventurous world-first.

‘Shova Mike’ Nixon, our mountain biking expedition member, also succeeded in cycling across the glaring white crust – another first for one of the greatest adventure mountain bikers in the world.

‘Living Traditions’ Documenting the ancient cultures and tribes of Africa has been a life-long interest for Kingsley and the team, and the Chew Bahir expedition provided a unique opportunity to interact with the fierce, nomadic tribes of northern Kenya and Ethiopia’s south Omo region: the lip-plated Mursi, bull-jumping Hamer and the Dorze, known as the finest weavers in Ethiopia and famous for their brightly-coloured, hand-woven scarves, shawls, hats and clothing made from home-grown cotton.