…a packrafting journey into the heart of Sierra Leone and Liberia's Peace Park…supported by the RGS Journey of a Lifetime grant

The end.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the expedition blogs as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, If you are new to the blog then feel free to scroll through the pages to get a little more background and stories on my Journey of a Lifetime in Sierra Leone and Liberia and check out thIMG_2543e Facebook group for loads of images from the project at Downstream Chimp.

I will be speaking all about the expedition at St Saviour’s Church in North London on October 3rd with all proceeds going to the charity Street Child of Sierra Leone – tickets are available here. Or, if you are a member or Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society you can come down to my Monday Night Lecture on October 7th, more details here. I’ll be going on a small UK tour in 2014 (Brecon – 24th Feb, Darlington – 25th Feb, Keswick – 26th Feb, Southampton – 27th Feb, Stamford 5th March) so keep across the ‘speaking’ tab on my website here, for further details later on this year.

I owe a huge debt of thanks to Simon Elmes at BBC Radio 4, the Royal Geographical Society, especially Shane, Catherine, Alex and Joanne and everyone involved with the Journey of a Lifetime grant scheme, seriously apply if you have a travel idea that you think would make great radio. I also want to thank my kit sponsors Aquapac, Brasher, Lifeventure, Lifesystems and DD hammocks for their support, and everyone that donated money towards my satellite phone on the Kickstarter campaign – it probably saved my life. My heartfelt thanks to everyone at the GRNP office in Kenema, especially Sakpa, Annika, Guy, Hannah, Frazer, Fumba, Patrick and Sheku, you guys made me feel extraordinarily welcome and my project wouldn’t have come anything close to being a success if it wasn’t for your help. I also want to thank all my new friends in Freetown for being there for me in between the bush and the hospital, especially Tim and Lynn who quite literally threw their doors (and fridge) open to me throughout my stay, and Gill and Catriona for the fun times. Jeremy, Richard and Nicolas at the RSPB helped enormously with facts, contacts and permissions throughout my journey and I had fantastic support in Sierra Leone and Liberia from Dr Monde at CSSL, Kate and Amos at the Sierra Leone Forestry Department and Michael and Alex at SCNL. I would also like to personally thank all the guys who helped me with vital information in the build-up to leaving the UK – Lev at Secret Compass, Tim Butcher, Rob Penn, Phil Harwood, David Gordon Mac-Leod, Will Lorimer, Harry Cox, Paul Taylor and Leona Cowley – finally I would like to thank all my friends and family for their neverending support.

I have absolutely loved the opportunity to get to know Sierra Leone and Liberia a little better and feel enormously privileged to have had the opportunity to tell some of its stories.

I really hope you enjoyed the radio broadcasts, but I could never do this place the justice it deserves in two 30-minute broadcasts so you should just go and see it for yourselves.

I have been deeply affected by this trip. I knew there would be tough times and that I was going to have to graft and dig deep on the expedition but I didn’t anticipate that I would ultimately be tearing myself away from West Africa with such a heavy heart at the end of the trip. The enormous shared sense of fun, happiness and humour that defined my trip in Sierra Leone and Liberia were the undoubted highlight in a journey filled with many wonderful moments.

The best is yet to come for Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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