The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means “vast place”. According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa
Grant has just returned from the adventure of a lifetime – a 560km unaided solo journey across the Namib desert on a kite buggy to raise awareness and funds for Ethelbert Children’s Home.
“It’s not about achieving some hardcore goal or reflecting a tough-guy attitude, it’s more than that. Adventure is part of my life, and if I can do what I love most and share the beauty of the outdoors with others or support a charity through my passion, then I’m a better man for it.”
“I do too much of everything, which I guess makes it harder to find a girlfriend. Travelling, surfing on the coast, exploring the desert and volunteering – that’s the life! Often all the things in life you really want to do take time and money, so running my own business allows me to have a salary, but also the time to do the things I dream about.”
No newcomer to the world of adventure, Grant was just 14 years old when he built his own power kite, later venturing into remote areas with his home-made three-wheel kite buggy – similar to a wind sailor. “At 21, I spent six months exploring the white sands and blue bays of Mozambique; kite buggying from the southern border all the way to Tanzania. The Namib crossing was a dream I’d considered for a long time and it proved to be the best and the toughest of my life. Many times over I thought I wouldn’t make it to the end because at least 420km of that stretch is totally isolated with not a single soul in sight. The desert is a beautiful place, but once you’re in, you’re in and the rest is up to fate and personal determination.” His latest adventure started in Luderitz on the south coast of Namibia. From there, Grant pushed through to the Skeleton Coast in the north at Henties Bay, facing some of the most inhospitable terrain known to man and the highest dunes in the world, but knowing it wasn’t all in the name of adventure made all the difference.
“The children at Ethelbert Children’s Home are busy with an incredible journey themselves, but they need all the help they can get. Doing this solo journey with the knowledge that it would bring them courage, gave me the extra gudspa I needed. A love of life and sense of adventure run through my veins, but I want it to be much more than that for me. Through what I do, I want to remind people that children face treacherous situations daily and it is each of our responsibilities to help them overcome that.”
Grant’s journey was certainly not without its difficulties. With recorded temperatures as high as 50 degrees and 325m dunes he faced some serious challenges in the Namib and, losing 8kgs in two weeks because of the gruelling terrain added to the pressure. To survive, he had to keep dehydration at bay, while steering clear of scorpions, snakes, jackals and the well-known ‘Strandwolf’ hyena. The terrain was harsher than what the equipment was designed for. On the first night, just 30km into the journey, he broke a rim and had to wait a day before hiking back and miraculously finding parts to repair it.
“It’s not easy when circumstances bring you down, but you persevere because giving up is not an option. Each night I was visited by jackals. On one occasion they stole my shoes, but I followed their spoor and luckily got them back as they hadn’t gotten very far. Hyenas love rubber, so I also had to sleep with my buggy tyres in my tent to avoid disaster. Negotiating strong winds was really tough, especially with a 50kg load,” He said. On the days when there was little wind, Grant was forced to harness himself to the buggy, affectionately nicknamed ‘Dog’, and drag it across the dunes.
“My kite buggy looked like it was on steroids with Big Foot tyres imported from the States to deal with the soft sand. All the equipment had to be as light as possible for the impassable sections of my trip and the failure of a single piece of equipment could have spelled failure for me.”
Desert creatures and buggy troubles aside, one of the most daunting tasks for Grant was getting water from the sea. This meant walking off course and trekking toward the coastline over massive dunes, burning vital energy. Fortunately, he had a water purifier, which provided safe drinking water once it was filtered.
“From sun-up to sundown, it was an intense rollercoaster ride, but you’ve just got to set yourself goals along the way. No-one and nothing was going to stop me from making this dream a reality.”
And true to his word, Grant reached his final destination in the nick of time. Just 12 hours before an emergency search party was due to be launched, he stumbled across a desert expedition company and made contact via satellite phone. Hours later, he arrived at the exit point sporting a massive smile knowing he was out of the desert and had only 170km left to Henties Bay.
“It’s a good feeling to accomplish something like this. I enjoy adventure and learning about life. The way I see it, we only get one shot so we best make it extraordinary.”
Grant is on a mission to raise funds for Ethelbert Children’s Home through corporate and motivational speaking. Anyone interested can contact
or check out his group URL on Facebook: Kite Buggy Namib. Anyone interested in assisting the home can browse their website www.ethelbert.co.za or contact Sharon Smorenburg on (031) 464 6555 or