Restarted: A Roundup of Long-Haul Expeditions on the Move

Adventure Travel
Dean Nicholson and Nala.

Since March, many expeditions around the world have been in limbo, waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to ease before restarting. By now, several have.

Across the Atlas Mountains

On August 20, Alice Morrison started walking 1,400km across the Atlas Mountains. This will be the third and final leg of her Moroccan Odyssey trilogy. She has already walked the length of the Draa River and across the Sahara. As before, a team of camels and three local guides are accompanying her.

Relief in the river. Photo: Alice Morrison

After three weeks, they have covered around 350km, walking four to six hours a day. This is a little less than expected, but when they left the Mediterranean coast for the Rif Mountains, a heatwave struck. They had to endure 10 days of temperatures around 40 degrees, which lasted into the early evening. This was too much even for the camels.

Luckily, they soon reached a river valley. After some time in the cool water, Morrison’s swollen hands, feet and legs “started to deflate and go back to normal size”.

Problems crossing the river. Photo: Alice Morrison

Crossing the shallow but fast-flowing river took a lot of coaxing for the reluctant camels, but eventually all made it across. They have now reached the Rekkam Plateau, 100km of flat desert flanked by mountains on both sides.

Out of Eden Walk

In 2013, National Geographic correspondent Paul Salopek started his 34,000km plan to retrace the global migration of our ancestors from Africa to the tip of South America. In April, he was forced to pause in Myanmar but managed to restart his walk in July. He is currently in North Myanmar, around Putao.

Milestone 73 of the Out of Eden walk. Photo: Paul Salopek

Every 160km, Salopek pauses to record the landscape and to speak to a person he passes. These milestones will allow him to pull together a global snapshot of humanity. On August 18, day 2,429, he reached milestone 73.

Putao River, Northern Myanmar. Photo: Paul Salopek/Out of Eden Walk

Around the World with a Cat

Dean Nicholson left Scotland to start a round-the-world cycle in September 2018. Three months later, a tiny stray kitten in Montenegro adopted him, and since then, he and Nala have been inseparable. With Nala sitting in the front basket of his bike, the pair made it through 10 countries before having to pause in Hungary.

Even when restrictions lifted, they were unable to cross any borders, but eventually, on June 15, Nicholson began cycling toward Austria, their next stop.

An ankle injury in Austria laid Nicholson up for several weeks. Photo: @1bike1world

He detoured into Slovakia and made it back into Austria on July 1, en route to Vienna. This marked country 20 for Nicholson and country 12 for Nala. Then in southern Austria, Nicholson tore ligaments in his ankle, forcing him to stop cycling until it healed.

After the injury, Nicholson and Nala explored by car. Photo: @1bike1world

During his convalescence, they hired a car to explore Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Germany. Nicholson and Nala then needed to go back to to the UK to get visas for Russia and to work out the ever-changing logistics of quarantines and open or closed countries. They returned to Austria on September 13 and are now cycling again.

Cycling again through Austria. Photo: @1bike1world

Running from the UK to Nepal

Rosie Pope, 74, started her run from the UK to Kathmandu in July 2018. She made it to Turkey. Here, because of her age, she was considered to be vulnerable to COVID-19. Local police ordered her to stop running and to wait out the restrictions in a local hotel. Here, she was the only guest, and spent her time running up and down the stairs to stay fit. But by June, the restrictions showed no signs of easing and her visa was about to expire, so she flew back to the UK. She plans to return to Turkey and resume her run as soon as possible.

Rosie Pope is running from Lands End to John O’Groats. Photo: Rosie Pope

In the meantime, she is making the most of her time in Britain by running from Lands End, the southernmost point, to its northern tip at John O’Groats, Scotland. She started on July 10 and has reached Cumbria, the last English county before Scotland. Along the way, she has been sleeping in her carbon-fibre cart and with friends.

UK Circumwalk

Karen Penny began her walk around the outer perimeter of the UK in 2019. She had completed 10,310 of the 30,000km when the March lockdown forced her to return home. On August 10, she was about to resume near Aberdeen, where she had left off, when the city was again put under a local lockdown.

She decided to “flip my walk on its head” and walk east from her home in Wales, along the Welsh Coastal Path to Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and along the south coast before heading back north. So far, she has made it to the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the Cornish coast, and should make it back to the mainland and to Salcombe, Devon by October 4.

Karen Penny on a raw day in the Isles of Scilly. Photo: Karen Penny

About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Aspiring sports and travel journalist based in the UK.

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