The adventurer and film-maker Reza Pakravan is currently on a 2-month trip through the Sahel region. The very special thing about this Brit’s journey is that he’s doing it on foot. He wears sometimes conventional shoes and sometimes Wildlings, which he discovered after meeting Anna and Ran in person.
Before starting off, Reza visited the Berlin Travel Festival and met Anna there. He told her about his shoes and the orthopaedic insoles that he’d been wearing for some time. Anna was immediately fascinated by his story and his unquenchable thirst for adventure. She told Ran about Reza’s worries concerning his shoes for the upcoming hike under extreme conditions.
Reza and the wildlings
It was an instant klick and the two started working together. In his home city of Berlin, Reza started jogging regularly - in Tanukis, making remarkable progress in a very short time.
On 25th April the time had come: Reza began the journey that will take him through the whole Sahel region. The desert remains one of the least explored areas on the planet. On his tour, Reza wants not just to research and have adventures, but also to give the people who live in that part of the world an opportunity to tell their stories.
The Sahel region goes from the Sahara in the north of Africa to the savannah in the south, stretching like a long ribbon from Senegal in the west to Eritrea in the east. The weather conditions in the area are very harsh, and there's nothing resembling what we know as modern civilisation. Attacks by wild animals and kidnappings are no rare occurrence. Factors such as the climate changes over the last few years and the military conflicts in the
Reza with his Wildlings.
“At high temperatures my feet get tired more slowly ”
Reza Pakravan has this to say about walking and running in Wildlings: “Together with Ran I've slowly felt my way into running in Wildlings”. Because my feet are very flat, until this change of shoes I’d always worn special insoles. It wasn't easy for me at first to switch to minimal shoes. My feet got tired very quickly - thanks to many years of artificial “supporting arches”, my muscles had simply become lazy.
Luckily Ran had already prepared me by explaining that the process would probably be a slow one. I was right in the middle of the preparation phase for my trip through the Sahel, concentrating each day on nothing but running. I began to always wear my Wildlings at the end of my daily runs, increasing the wearing time each day. I started at barely 500 m per day.
At the beginning of my trip I then had a fascinating experience. Daytime temperatures in the Sahel region lie between 40° and 45° Celsius. Surprisingly, in these conditions my feet get tired more slowly - I can wear the Wildlings for longer, even though the ground is indescribably hot. At the moment it feels as if my feet are gradually getting used to this natural way of walking in my new shoes. I'm very curious to see how things progress.”
An experienced globetrotter
Reza Pakravan is anything but an inexperienced traveller. In the past, for example, he has journeyed for 4000 km through the Amazon Jungle and been around the world by bicycle. On his desert adventure he’s accompanied by local guides, following their daily routines for his own safety. His expedition is supported by the Scientific Exploration Society.
Asked what the word “adventure” means to him, Reza has a clear answer:
“For me it’s the people who make the adventure what it is. You can wander around a place admiring the landscape, the architecture and the fauna - but without the stories behind this whole mass of diversity, you’ll only see half the picture”.
Reza wants to be a voice for the people in Sahel.
A voice for the people being driven from their homes by climate change and war
Reza has a very special reason for his journey through the Sahel. Afterwards he’d like to write a book, to give the people in the Sahel region a voice. He’d like to make public the problems that are common there due to climate change and conflict, pointing out the reasons for migration and hunger. On his homepage he writes among other things about the brutal chain reaction that has been triggered by global warming.
Reza Pakravan works as a film-maker, motivational speaker and author. His documentaries, talks and books take the audience along on impressive journeys to the most remote places in the world. Crossing the Sahara Desert on a bicycle earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
If you're interested you can follow Reza Pakravan on his trip. On his Facebook page he regularly posts videos from along the way. On Instagram there are new impressions each day and on his homepage you can find out all there is to know about the author and passionate journalist (Reza reports for BBC, CNN and The Independent, to name a few), his life and his travels.
Reza Pakravan: "It's all about the people".
Fotos: Reza Pakravan Instagram