1000km across Brazil (Two Magazine Features)

Two boys decided to be the first to travel 1000km of Brazil by kite buggy. They were just missing the ability to buggy, fly kites or speak the language.

Read more… (give the article a minute to load)

“Discourse – From the End of the Line”, the magazine produced by the Drachen foundation, also published our article in their latest issue. Read it here…

Discourse - Kite Buggy Adventure Feature

Radio Interview: Was this expedition for charity, or was it for us?

We answered this question in an interview on BBC Radio York with Jonathon Cowap this morning. Click this link and go to 9 minutes 20 seconds: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00lh72b#synopsis

BBC Radio York Kite Buggy Adventure Interview

If you can’t access iplayer here’s the recording:

We’re also working hard (or to be more accurate, the generous Naomi Garrett at SeeingThroughFilm is) on a video showing video diaries and onboard footage from the adventure. We’ll stick it up on YouTube as soon as it’s done and embed it here…

Three things you need to succeed in an adventure

Second mangrove swamp of the day!

We were trudging through the second mangrove swamp of the day. The mud was sucking at our shoes and layering up on the tyres of each buggy, making them look like flinstones cartoon wheels. Crabs with single giant claws scuttled away from our tramping feet and the midday equatorial sun reflected off the murky swamp waters.

As we tried to work out a route to take along the coast and onto beaches where we could continue to kite, I realised that for an adventure to succeed there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

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Onboard footage from the kite buggy adventure

This video shows several clips from the Video VBOX mounted on Harry’s buggy, showing our accident with a power line at the end of the video…

The gauge you can see on the video is a graphic overlay, which takes GPS data to show accurate speed. Its embedded on the footage at the same time as the video is recorded. The map and g force (and any other gps info you like) work the same way. You set up a ‘scene’ in the Video VBOX software with the graphics where you want them, place the gps antenna and cameras on the car (or kite buggy in this case) and off you go!

Why pick Jericoacoara as the destination?

Finding out about Jericoacoara was the spark that made us decide to do an adventure in Brazil.

Sunset dune at Jericoacoara

Sunset dune at Jericoacoara

Fantastic wind, good waves and a chilled atmosphere are the hallmarks of Jericoacoara. It´s in a national park, and buildings have to be low rise. Jeri is surrounded by a string of huge dunes, one of the largest of which people walk up each night to watch the sunset and see locals practicing Capoeira, the Brazillian dance / martial art.

But it´s the ideal water conditions that inspired Fabio Nobre to found Club Ventos here in the first place. It´s paradise for anyone into wind / water sports, and Club Ventos has racks and racks of the latest gear, helpful staff, good food and nice atmosphere.

Charlie taking some of Club Ventos´ windsurfing gear out for a spin

Charlie taking some of Club Ventos´ windsurfing gear out for a ride

Chop hop in the surf outside Club Ventos

Cheeky Chop hop in the surf outside Club Ventos

We were lucky enough to be staying in Serrote Breezes, which is a set of eight apartments in lush fruit gardens with swimming pool, rooftop terrace, and hammocks on each balcony, which we appreciated after our journey!

Our balcony in Serrote Breezes Apartments

Our balcony in Serrote Breezes Apartments, complete with kite buggies!

After three weeks of eating from roadside stalls and pousadas it was great to be able to buy and cook our own food in our apartment in Serrote Breezes, and we have been living off Açai smoothies, fruit and fresh fish for our whole time in Jericoacoara!

The open plan kitchen in Serrote Breezes

Whizzing up some Açai in the open plan kitchen in Serrote Breezes

Sunset over Serrote Breezes with a great view to the dunes beyond Jericoacoara

Sunset over Serrote Breezes with the view to the dunes beyond Jericoacoara

Butt naked buggying in Brazil

Charlie the naked buggier

Charlie the naked buggier

Travelling along in a kite buggy wearing nothing but a kite harness is an odd sensation. The breeze is very refreshing but this is counteracted by the fear of what might happen if you were to have an accident at such a speed!

Naked buggying

Before this adventure Charlie and I had promised friends over a few drinks that during the course of our journey we would kite buggy naked – in the name of charity of course. So we found ourselves stripping down just north of Aranau, and kiting along wearing nothing…

Thanks again for all those who have donated to Centrepoint, a UK charity who house and support homeless young people – if you haven´t it´s easy to do so here: www.justgiving.com/brazilkitebuggyadventure

Calamity in the last kilometre

For Charlie, it seemed to come out of nowhere. A bright white flash, a tearing crack, and metal whipping past, inches from his face. But riding several metres behind him and wondering whether this could actually be hapenning, I saw it all.

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Kite buggy taxi?!

Harry and his passenger preparing for departure...

Harry and his passenger preparing for departure...

As we prepared to depart from Baleia, aiming for the fishing village of Icaraizinho 40km away, our host Andreas suggested we take two of his Brazilian friends along for the ride.

Neither of us thought it was that safe. Charlie was very reluctant to take a passenger, citing various reasons including the fact that the terrain was reportedly tricky on the route, that he didn’t want his collection of after sun and moisturisers being squashed by someone sitting on his buggy bag, that we had no extra helmets, and that if he was going to take anyone on the back, it should be his girlfriend.

With these objections duly dismissed by Andreas we found ourselves with a Brazilian lady each sat on the back of our buggies – shrieking in our ears as we crashed through small streams and hurtled up and down dunes. With the strong wind we soon left the kitesurfers and VW dune buggy that had joined us for the downwinder far behind!

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Leapfrogging the width of a beach – how hard can it be?

Well if the sea is at low tide and you haven’t done a leap frog since you were seven, harder than you’d expect!

When we were in Baleia we remembered we’d accepted a challenge to leap frog the width of a beach in return for a donation to Centrepoint.  So down to the beach we went with cameras in hand. One or two sweaty, sandy minutes later and we had successfully made it to the water’s edge – much to the amusement and bemusement of the locals.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to Centrepoint (and Kevin who gave us this challenge!)  – you can still donate here >

 

 

Night time buggying in Baleia

Buggying as the sun vanishes in Baleia

Buggying as the sun vanishes in Baleia

Our buggies have rolled over rocks, thick sand, cacti and through rivers and waves. When we reached Andreas Staehelin’s place in Baleia (paradise) we were glad to spend a day cleaning and maintaining the buggies (and ourselves!) ready for the final section of the adventure.

Kite surfer Louis Tapper trying out Charlie's PLK Outlaw buggy

Kite surfer Louis trying out Charlie's PLK Outlaw Buggy

We also spent a day swapping sports with the kite surfers.

Charlie and I spent the morning being dragged around in the atlantic waves under the instruction of kite surfing adventurer Louis Tapper, and in the afternoon  trailered our buggies to huge dunes east of Baleia to show the surfers what buggying was about.

It was an epic session and they were still ripping  around the dunes under the power of our ozone kites until after sunset.

The wind was still strong, so we kited the 5km back to Andreas house by moonlight, almost crashing into sleeping cows and zipping through streams on the beach.

We’re aiming to cover 50km and reach the fishing village of Icaraizinho tomorrow.

To complete our charity challenges there may also be leap frogging and nakedness, although hopefully not at the same time. More details here…

Racing the Tide

Enxe Quimado beach

Each day we only have a window of five hours in which to kite along the beaches. Any later than this and the tide is too high to give us the space we need to progress. This has seen us get up at 5.30am most mornings to set up the kites and buggies and leave just as the tide goes down.

On some stretches the combination of wet sand and the wind being behind us means that the buggies are often too fast for the kites, and it is easy to loose power and run over your lines. For these sections we strap the buggies together in tandem. The front person kites and the back person uses a large stick to brake and maintain tension in the lines. It´s not very sophisticated, but it works!

Being in tandem also means it is quicker to set up the kite, solving problems and communicating is easier too. The only problem is that the front person must channel the power to move the buggies and two people (280kg) through their legs. Due to the inertia, starting and stopping is like driving a tanker. Continue reading

Over a marathon a day on the corner of South America

It´s just dawned on us that we´re doing more than a marathon a day. This is no problem when we´re using the kites (in fact we´re able to cover far more than this when flying), and we´ve had some fantastic buggying along huge coastal dunes in over 30mph winds. The 4 metre Access kites have been brilliant and provided more than ample power for us and our gear, so we´ve hardly used the larger Frenzys. Our Outlaw buggies have also been amazing – their strong frames and massive low pressure tyres can get over or up almost anything.

However, headlands and rivers between Maracajau and Touros prevented us taking the beaches yesterday so we weren´t able to fly at all. Hauling was the only option…

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Huge winds at the start line

They say half the challenge in an adventure like this is just getting to the start line. But whilst things have been hectic and a but nerve wracking at times, everything is going to plan so far, fingers crossed.

The first challenge after getting 150 kg of buggy equipment and kites in the car and then into Terminal 1 Heathrow was to blag our way through the excess baggage rules at TAP airlines. Wearing our centrepoint charity tshirts and cheesy smiles we managed to skirt the £300 usual fee and pay just £66, which was brilliant as every single buggy bag was oversized and there were too many of them!

After a stop in Lisbon we landed in Natal, squashed the gear into a fiat doblo taxi with the bemused driver onlooking, and headed to our start point in Natal – Villa del Sol Pousada. The buggies took four hours to build (some bolts were being deliberately awkward) and set up with Video VBOX systems and expedition racks (video coming soon) which meant we missed low tide. I was secretly glad about this as the wind was nearing 40mph and I didnt fancy that on our first day!

Buggybags now loaded on the racks and we’re officially embarking on our journey at 6.30 am tomorrow. We’ll update you when we next get internet!

In the meantime time check our location On our facebook page and drop a note in the comments if you fancy offering us a bed between natal and fortaleza!

Why go on an adventure? Some final inspiration (from a famous expedition)

Here’s are some words we received from a primary sponsor – Craig Hansen at PLK Buggies in New Zealand. We thought they were so good we printed them out for bedtime reading in our hammocks! Perhaps a useful reminder of why people decide to leave the comfort of home in the first place and why we’re doing this trip…

“A short note to wish you well and see you off, as it were.

One final piece of advice. Remember the old adage: “The best laid plans of mice and men…”.

So it is not if things go wrong, but when things go wrong. It is at these times that our true mettle shows, and what we make of the mess that follows sets us apart from the crowd and often determines success or failure.

The most important thing I can say is…

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One day to go…

“This is the stuff we are made of, this is what men do well, what we are equipped to do, what most men alive today never discover, this is what populated every corner of this planet, what began the civilisation that followed.” 

As we assembled everything to check the gear and then packed it down to make sure it fitted in the car before leaving for the airport tomorrow, it was an inspiration to receive an email from Craig Hansen containing the sentence above. Craig and Jenny at PLK buggies in New Zealand are basically the third and fourth members of our team and it was good to get a reminder of why we’re setting off on this crazy adventure in the first place.

Assembling the buggies and packing all the gear made us realise how much planning has gone into this, and how lucky we’ve been to get all the help we’ve had. Containing all our gear and perfectly fitted, the buggy bags look

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Heading off in under three weeks

Both our wallets are now a lot lighter, having now booked the flights from London to Natal complete with excess baggage (thanks to Sophie at STA Travel!). We’re heading out on 25th July.

Insurance is booked, arms are feeling numb from training (and vaccinations!), and a lot of very generous people have already donated to Centrepoint, a charity for homeless young people, on our just giving page here.

Buggies are on their way from New Zealand (thanks to Craig Hansen and Computer Solutions!), kites are en route from Vietnam (thanks Ozone!), buggy bags are currently being stitched in Wales (thanks BuggyBags!), the best tyre sealant available is already here (thanks Ultraseal!), and we are the proud owners of four very fashionable caps to keep the sun off in the day and light our way at night from 2C, makers of the Solar Light Cap.

I guess that all means we better go for it now…

We’re planning the whole route on google earth and we really appreciate all the advice and offers for support we have had so far, without which this trip would be even more of a challenge than it already is.

If you know the area between Natal and Jericoacoara, we’d love to hear any local knowledge you have. Post your email in the comments below!

First kite buggy lesson – with one or two crashes!

Buggy lesson with SB kites in Poole

Buggy lesson with SB kites in Poole

I’m sitting typing this with two ripped holes in my shorts, a graze on my elbow, and a wide grin.

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Mad Way South and other inspiring journeys

As well as conversations with the various characters who have given us their time, advice and support, there have been a few other adventures in recent years which have been a source of inspiration for us, making us realise that our idea is at least possible! Perhaps you’ll find them inspiring too…

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Training

So kite buggying is just about sitting back in your seat and cruising along eh? Not quite. You’re in a heavy buggy with a month’s worth of gear strapped to it, and all the power to get you moving has to be channelled through your arms and legs to drive the buggy along.

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Five reasons why we’re doing this trip

1. There are few things that are really worth doing that don’t have some element of uncertainty. Speak to anyone that has success in any area whether there was any risk in what they did, and they’ll usually say yes. This trip won’t be easy, but that’s part of the reason we think it’s worth doing. Stepping outside the comfort zone, challenging each other and ourselves and inspiring other people to think outside the box and go for something different are big motivations.

2. Travelling 1000k by kite buggy  is rare, and we want to use it as inspiration for people of the power of the wind.

3. We’ve got a home and family and the means to take a month off. But of course there are other people are age who don’t have this. So we decided to use the publicity from the trip to raise funds for CentrePoint, a homeless charity who house and support homeless young people. If you donate, you might get a free power kite lesson or even see us buggy in speedos….

4. Because travelling along at 70kph a few inches above the ground carrying a month’s worth of possessions and simply using the power of a kite is pretty good fun! Although kite buggies in various forms have been around since the 13th century, it’s still relatively unknown as a sport and method of adventure travel. Expeditions like this will help bring more people to the fun of traction kiting.

5. Why not?!