INTREPID Limerick explorer Maghnus Collins Smyth is looking forward to making his way back home in the new year after a 16,000km journey from Istanbul to Shanghai.
Maghnus, 27, from Corbally and his college friend David Burns, 27, from Coleraine, are on the final leg of their mammoth expedition, in aid of Self Help Africa, which was founded by Limerick man Ray Jordan.
Their eight-month voyage has seen them travel through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal and finally up towards the Yangtze river, and their only means of travel has been by bicycle, on foot and by raft across Asia.
Over Christmas there were no luxurious dinners or boxes of Milk Tray, but a carbohydrate feast of porridge, noodles and a Snickers bar as they endeavoured to paddle the Yangtze river in China before their visa expires on Saturday, January 12 next.
“They are doing 40km per day at the moment, and it’s been a lot tougher recently in comparison to the first half of the river. The water isn’t as fast, and they’re on a slower path,” explained John Hogan, a spokesman for the pair.
“There’s also crocodiles but they’re not overly worried about them. There’s an expatriate group in Shanghai who are ready to welcome them when they arrive, but they are ready to come home.
“They said it has been absolutely amazing, with lots of ups and downs, but missing Christmas brought it home to them how homesick they now are,” said Mr Hogan.
In a recent post online, Maghnus contemplated what they will have achieved at the end of this journey.
“The expedition’s beginning and end were and are of our choosing, it’s start and finish lines exist only in our minds,” he wrote. “The mountains, rivers, oceans, and deserts of this planet care not a jot for our conquests, descents, ascents and crossings...The value and worth of this journey if any exist, exist only because of people. They exist in the help of friends and family who saw some themselves or valued us enough to back our judgement.”
By the end of this expedition they will have cycled 8,500km from Istanbul to Kathmandu, run 1,000km over the Tibetan Plateau, and then paddled all 6,300km of the river.
After beginning their arduous journey in March last, they are looking forward to the comfort of finally travelling home by plane. Maghnus said his adventure streak was borne as a result “of disillusionment with my choice of career, a naive sense of philanthropy and an inexplicable urge to see Africa”.
The pair have become well-known for the lengths they’ve gone to for charity, having cycled from Ireland to South Africa and back again in 2009. They then swapped the bikes for running shoes and took part in a 260km ultra marathon across the Sahara desert. Over €24,000 as been raised to date.
To donate log on to www.sand2snowadventures.com.