National Adventurer of the year nominee, Ash Dykes, has become the first person in history to successfully walk the entire length of Madagascar from south to north, summiting its eight highest mountains on his way.
The expedition, which took 155 days to complete, saw Ash walk more that 3.5 million steps to reach Cap d’Ambre – the most northerly point of the island – in the early hours of this morning.
The expedition has taken Ash across some truly unforgiving and dangerous terrain as he’s faced sweltering desert and sand dunes in the south before hacking his way through dense jungle and rainforest in the north with temperatures scaling from 0c right up to 45c.
Ash also met local inhabitants face to face during his trek, giving him the chance to understand the Malagsy way and pace of life at eye level. One tribe gifted Ash with a chicken ahead of his journey to summit Maromokotro, the highest mountain on the island, and was told to set it free at the summit in order to destroy bad spirits to allow a safe descent; an order Ash followed with the chicken he affectionately named Gertrude.
When there weren’t locals around to invite Ash into their homes, Ash took to living a very primitive way of life. Not only was he relying on natural resources to get him out of situations – he was left stranded at the foot of a mountain following a cyclone and built a raft from wood to float across a flooded river – but also foraging for wild nutrients including mangos, banana, sugar cane and lychee, as well as lesser known raffia fruit and kat leaves.
Ash Dykes commented : “Nothing could have prepared me for just how mentally and physically tough the journey would be. This is, without a doubt, the hardest and most demanding challenge I’ve taken on – there were times it nearly broke me so reaching the finish line was quite overwhelming. However, I would like to say a huge thank you to Pioneer Expeditions – the company that helped me move from one stepping stone to the next, from an idea into action! Pioneer Expeditions got on the case and introduced me to all essential contacts in order to make the expedition go ahead in the first place!”.
The expedition was more than a personal challenge for Ash. He chose Madagascar for its status as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Around 75 percent of the species found in Madagascar live nowhere else on the planet, but deforestation is causing habitat and wildlife loss, something Ash wanted to explore and see first hand.
Ash has been nominated for this year’s National Adventure Awards and selected as an ambassador for the “Wales Year of Adventure”.
Check our trips to Madagascar :