Review published on April 18, 2017.
Reza Pakravan was settled in his comfortable life in London working as a financial analyst, but he wasn’t happy. He had started to work with the Azafady charity to raise money for those in most need in Madagascar. After cycling across the Sahara, and setting a world record in the process, he wanted something to get his teeth into. A plan was conceived and in August 2013, he embarked with his cycling buddy Steven Pawley on an 18,000 kilometre journey from Nordkapp to Cape Town with two aims in mind: to set a world record and to raise money to build two schools in Madagascar.
Arriving at Nordkapp, they turn almost immediately, grasp hands and cycle away together on their epic journey. One hundred days later they were hoping to arrive in Cape Town, so they were going to have to set a fairly punishing schedule. Their chosen route would take in 21 different countries from the relaxed Finland to the potentially dangerous situation in Egypt and the troubled Republic of Dagestan. They had a film team at the beginning of the journey, but most of their route they were doing this unsupported, finding places to stay or camp on the way, relying on the generosity of strangers and friends from the past.
It was a tough journey too. Not only did they have to make a minimum mileage each day to stand any chance of claiming the record, but they had to do it over a variety of road surfaces and across punishing landscapes. It is a refreshingly honest and personal travel book; not only does Pakravan wear his heart on his sleeve, he shares all the emotions of the journey. From the elation as they reach significant milestones but the low moments of illness and differing opinions that they suffered on their race to the very south of Africa. Well worth reading for a travel book that pulls no punches.
Paul Cheney 4/3
Kapp to Cape: Never Look Back: Race to the End of the Earth by Reza Pakravan
Summersdale 9781849539678 pbk Feb 2017
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