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Mission: To showcase the amazing natural features, people and cultures of the countries through which the expedition will traverse and to help the Starlight Children's Foundation brighten the lives of seriously ill and hospitalized children, and their families, throughout Australia.
On September 19 2011, Australian Tom Smitheringale set off on an incredible 7,500km African odyssey, in an attempt to cross the Sahara Desert, moving east to west from its boundaries, starting on the Nile in Egypt - to the Atlantic Ocean in Morocco. Bold in ambition and epic in scope, this seven month journey began in the middle of the Nubian Desert on the Sudanese/Egyptian border at the historic World Heritage site of Abu Simbel. From here, Tom kayaked the 1200km length of the Egyptian Nile, to the Great Pyramids of Cairo - visiting all the 'must-see' cultural and historic sites along its riverbanks.
The expedition then restarted in Upper Egypt at the historic city of Luxor, where Tom rendezvoused with his camels and Bedouin guides before heading into the shifting sand dunes of the Western Desert, where traditional lifestyles have remained unchanged for centuries. The team then trekked an ancient caravan route by camel and on foot, visiting a network of Oases on their way, finishing the 1,300km journey close to the Libyan border at the Eden of the Western Desert, Siwa Oasis.
After 75 days, Tom will now travel overland on camels into the remotest corners of the hauntingly beautiful Libyan Desert, known for its lofty dunes, stunning rock formations and ancient paintings and engravings. Learning survival skills from local Bedouin tribes and revelling in the cultural and historical richness of this little known and seldom visited area of Libya. From here Tom will cross borders into northern Niger and the neighbouring sub-Saharan belt region of Mali and Mauritania. A desert world teeming with paradoxes, as chronic insecurity contrasts with the legendary hospitality of indigo-turbaned Tuareg nomads.
The expedition then enters its final stage where Tom will cross borders once more into Morocco, swapping his camels for hiking boots and trekking the snow clad peaks of the High Atlas Mountains and coastal lowlands, down to the Atlantic Ocean where he will then kayak the Moroccan coastline to the port of Casablanca.
A unique and unforgettable journey of discovery and transformation, braving dust storms and suffocating heat in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
For Tom, this will be the realisation of a childhood dream, and one that he hopes will not only raise money for the Starlight Children's Foundation, but also provide inspiration to the seriously ill children all over the world to follow their dreams.