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The EXPEDITION Project

Wow! 6 months down and 6 to go!

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 1 June 2012 | Views [197]

100 towns, 6 months, 6 provinces, 10000km – only Half Way…of part 1!

One year ago the concept of The EXPEDITION Project was formulated and from there six months of planning followed. Now six months into the 2012 foundation year and the 2011 idea is very much a 2012 reality. The team is exhausted and 100 towns have been visited so far covering six different South African provinces.

It has taken this long to travel, what on paper looks like, two thirds of the country’s boundaries leaving the second half of 2012 for the east coast of South Africa. Having now reached Durban, the projects half way point, it is time to look back at what has been done and how successful this undertaking is in practical terms.

Practically, The EXPEDITION Project concept has worked extremely well, far better than ever imagined. These first six months have shown that not only is South Africa ready to support such a project, but that there is so much more scope for it that initially realised. Financially however, The EXPEDITON Project is currently running at a daily petrol spend of R86.06 per day, R108.55 for food and overall R371.07 on average each day. This means that excluding filming, marketing, insurance, communications, and any head office costs, the project can run at an ‘on the road cost’ of R135K per year. Not a lot by any means and especially considering our budget for 2012 was half that! So what are we to do for the next six months of 2012? Well, for one we need to drop the overall daily spend down to R100 per day. Because up to now petrol has cost us R86.06 per day, that leaves R13.94 for food, with no leeway for maintenance costs or other emergency expenses. And of course this implies that accommodation will remain 100% sponsored, which it will have to.

In terms of sustainability, revenue streams are possible at every angle, however within the first two years it would be vital get the majority of the income via sponsorship and if possible from media and merchandise sales. If needed, The TOURISM Project – a sub section of the overall concept – could be implemented as early as 2013 to encourage travellers and volunteers to join the vehicles at a fee of R300 – R400 per day. A daily rate like that is minimal in the eyes of both travellers and volunteers when you take into context that volunteer organisations and tour groups charge twice that for starters. Then add the fact of what The EXPEDITION Project will be doing and is doing with that money, it proves well worth it for any adventurer, explorer, intern or volunteer. The project may have NPO principles, but it is still a CC operating NGO for the very reason of remaining sustainable, creating its own revenue for longevity and delivery of its numerous promises already made to all stakeholders. Basically, it is a business with a heart, and by doing so encouraging other businesses to become more community and world conscious.

2012 was never going to be easy, but it will be completed, and not just completed but completed successfully. We now have a knowledgeable base from which to work from in future years, and with the hardest part now behind us, each day will be easier and more intently understood. The template for the years to come is now 50% complete.

Partners and Sponsors nationwide, be it accommodation or food sponsors, corporate investment and other similar organisations, NGO’s and NPO’s, have already warmed to the project’s ideals and equally so to the future promises and growth potential. For this reason The EXPEDITION Project needs to forge on as planned in its three to five year business plan. Some of the promises include – a television presence by the end of 2013, The EXPEDITION Project specific print media and a scheduled 2013 physical follow up to the 2012 foundation year. Nothing has changed. Well, actually what has changed is that we want to do more and we see the potential of doing more as more reachable. The hardest part is slowing down and taking each year at a time, let alone each day.

Seriousness aside, as you can image with the project of this size, we have come across some weird places, people and situations. The EXPEDITION Project may not be venturing across the entire African continent, but 2012 has shown that there is so much going on within the borders of South Africa than even we thought. It is easy to say that South Africa is too young a country to have any culture in comparison to Europe or Asia, but it is quickly forgotten the Africa, and South Africa in particular, is actually the cradle of human kind. From the oldest and the original, to the first and the newest, it is all within South Africa. And this isn’t even getting started on the current inhabitants.

So in our 10000km so far we often get asked what our best and worst moments have been, but before we tell you some funny stories let me say that at the end of each year/each expedition we will not only be producing and releasing footage and information for the trips but we will also be advertising our ‘Annual TEP Awards’ showcasing some of our tourism favourites for each year. But The EXPEDITION Project is not just about tourism, it is about the people, the lives of South Africans and the success stories from each corner as told by the individuals that created those successes.

Back to the humorous parts - from having minimal funds, forcing us to cook soup in a kettle (and of course breaking it!), to Chris (our 4x4) breaking down umpteen times, to hilarious posters and signage along our road trip, the past 6 months have definitely not failed to deliver on the hilarity side. We’ve stayed in everything from a cave to a high standard hotel, experienced both the blazing heat and freezing cold and have had to endure some of South Africa’s largest and smallest animals. Chris getting stuck in the sand in Donkieskraal was a funny highlight, with insult added to injury when Rog stuck his head out of the car to get a look at the tracks, only to be smacked in the face by a mound of harsh sand spraying up from the tyres.

Ok, so what is really different from the Western Cape to the Northern Cape and the North West to Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu Natal and finally the Eastern Cape? Well we can’t tell you too much about the latter provinces just yet but from the first six months on the road we can tell you that coast to Kalahari, bushveld to tropical, there is more than meets the eye than just how the landscape looks. South Africa is said to be the land of diversity and that isn’t just how the country looks but how the country smells, sounds and acts. It truly is a land rich with cultural diversity and changing opinions and attitudes.

Communities large and small are inspiring in their efforts to remain above the poverty line and in doing so coming up with ingenious methods to survive and enduring so much more than the average western world inhabitant could manage or even imagine in their worst nightmare. But most fascinating is that they will come out of this with a smile on their face, a truly African smile from ear to ear.  This manner of creativeness is what makes South Africa the small business blueprint for the world. It also soon became clear that most towns and communities no matter how small have some sort of community centre, orphanage or NGO crèche. Conservation projects on the other hand on first glance have seemed to be restricted to reserves and government or privately funded programmes.

One thing stands out however; Africa will be Africa – the land of short term mentality governed by corruption within and resource exploitation outside. The problem is the people know this but will they cry for change? Yes, to the first, and yes to a certain extent to the second. The very nature of ‘crying for change’ requires abandoning the daily family struggle, and although strikes and uprisings are a sign of unrest, are they really proving results to the heart of the problem? Tired of poor service delivery, Graskop in Mpumalanga is the first town in the area to out vote the current government and turn to its rival for results and in doing so re-structuring its municipality, and Piet Retief closer to KZN was the centre of the first uprising in 2007 when it became clear that promises weren’t being met by the government and local municipalities. Now we are not at all anti the current government, we do think they are trying, and there will be an element of learning and growth, mistakes and success, but do they really think the people of South Africa are so stupid that they can’t see what is really going on?

All in all *78% of town surveys conducted by The EXPEDITION Project have demonstrated that the people don’t care who is running the country as long as the people’s best interests are looked after. *9% believe that through thick or thin the current leadership freed the nation and so is what it should be for ever more, and *13% are undecided. The Department of Social Development in Hondeklipbaai, Northern Cape spent R3.8million on a community development project only for it to be vandalised and abandoned – the thought was there but the follow through is missing. The Department of Health has set up a Love Life Centre (HIV awareness) in Bray in the North West (along with many other locations), only for the staff to sit around almost daily with minimal facilities in which to undertake their assignments. *82% of the small towns we have visited believe that alcohol and drug abuse is the number one problem within their community, followed by education, health service and job creation. Big families are still seen by the majority of South Africans as a security blanket for the future rather than a burden for their present – I guess one of those times when forward planning comes into play even if it may be at the detriment of a nation. In the same light condoms are still not widely accepted to a religious philosophy that if God wants you to have kids you will have kids – this statement is agreed to by *67% of South Africans. And as quoted from one interview in Jozini and contrary to popular belief “There are plenty of jobs out there people just like saying there are no jobs. People think the jobs will come looking for them but they need to look for the jobs.”

These may seem like negatives but we are looking for the state of the country to find the way forward and through each negatives there is an equalling positive and positively acting people progressing towards change and transformation, mainly for their own communities. But through helping their own communities they are helping South Africa, and this is what we are advertising.

I think looking back at the past six months it is amazing to think that we have only paid for one night’s accommodation. This is a fantastic achievement and speaks volumes – well done South Africa! Food has been a little harder to come across but we haven’t done too badly. Most accommodation sponsorships will happily throw in a meal and a few restaurants have also been happy enough to support with plate of food.

So six months down six to go, and this is only part one – is the project a success and will we be seeing more of them? Yes and definitely yes! It won’t be easy but we will do whatever it takes! …And why? Because we believe in, not only this product we have developed, but we believe in South Africa. And if you don’t believe in South Africa then you need to follow The EXPEDITION Project a little closer –if we can’t change your mind then you have probably already relocated to Australia!

What will the next six months have in store for us? Well, we hope you will become more actively involved in The EXPEDITION Project as we find out. We need you wherever you may be – at your computer, in your office, at your home, in your town, no matter whether we meet you in person this year or the next, we need your help, we need your comments and we need your advice. Make your voice heard and join us!

*Taken from a survey of 972 interviews at an average of almost 10 per town/community.

 

Accommodation so far thanks to:

Devon Valley Hotel, Makarios B&B, Strandloper Guesthouse, Scorpio Guest House, Southern Anchorage , Groenveld Backpackers, Shelley Point Hotel, Spa and Country Club, Dolphin B&B, Farr Out, African Sunrise, Hillary's Guest House, Dwarkersbos Holiday Resort and Camp Site, Draaihoek Lodge, Elands Bay Guest House, Donkieskraal, Lamberts Bay Hotel, Thornbay Accommodation, Capricorn B&B, Van Eeden Accommodation, Sea Breeze B&B, The Golden Grape B&B, Oasis Country Lodge, Nama Karoo B&B, Talk of the Town B&B, Agama Tented Camp, Sophia Guest House, Kuiervreugde Guest House, Skulpieskraal Tented Lodge, The Palace Flophouse, Naries Namaqua Retreat, Elkoweru Guest House, Die Houthoop, Okiep Country Hotel, Kookfontein Rondawels, Aquacade Camp, Norotshama River Resort, Pofadder Hotel, Dundi Lodge, Panorama B&B, Vergelegen Guest House, Landa Koppieskraal Inkbospan, Loch Maree, Askam Post Office, Leeupan Guest Farm, Vanzylsrus Hotel, Kalahari Cottage, Villa Lin Zane, Ditlha Guest House, Villa Rosa, Mweba Cabins, Selous Bush Camp, Ivory Tree Game Lodge, Claypot Guest House, Deo Valente, The Place, Sandpatrys, Kokomori Birders Lodge, Mama Tau, Bateleur Safari Camp, ZaZoe Lodge, Makoppa's Nest, Mopane Bush Lodge, Madi a Thavha , Mashovhela Lodge, The Rustic House, Thula Meetse Lodge, Quilt @ Home, Die Ou Kuier Stoep, Mount Amanzi,  Ama Amanzi, Legend Golf & Safari Resort, Loerie Lodge, Blue Cottages, Tanda Tula, Muraleng Lodge, Westlodge Bed & Breakfast, Ridgeway Bushcamp, Forever Resorts Mount Sheba, Pelenechi Manor, Boondocks Mountain Lodge, Royal Sheba Guesthouse, Forever Resorts Badplaas, Welgekozen Country Lodge, White Elephant Lodge, Jozini River Lodge, Jozini Tiger Lodge, Shayamoya Game Lodge, Ghost Mountain Inn, Rhino River Lodge, Kosi Moon B+B, Wendys country Lodge

Food so far thanks to:

Makarios B&B, Strandloper Guesthouse, Weskus Mall – Spur, Shelley Point Hotel, Spa and Country Club, The Swiss Bistro and Deli, Voorstrandt, Doekies, Vaatjie, Elands Bay Hotel, Lamberts Bay Hotel, Cabin Restaurant, Die Anker Guesthouse, Van Eeden Accommodation, The Golden Grape, Klawer Hotel, Nama Karoo B&B, Talk of the Town, Agama Camp, Die Rooi Spinnekop , Titbits Restaurant, Grasdak Steak Ranch, Kookfontein Rondawels, Oewerbos Camp, Pofadder Hotel, Klein Pella Guest House, Vergelegen Guest House, Loch Maree, Leeupan Guest Farm, Diamond T Coffee Shop, Kalahari Cottage, Grob Lodge, Deo Valente, Spur Thabazimbi, Keg and Kudu, Mama Tau, Bateleur Safari Camp, Aquanoir Bush Pub, Mopane Bush Lodge, Madi a Thavha, Mashovhela, The Rustic House, Thula Meetse Lodge, Tecoma Spur Bela Bela, Wimpy Modimolle, Legend Golf & Safari Resort, Westlodge Bed & Breakfast, Forever Resorts Mount Sheba, Jatinga Country Lodge, Boondocks Mountain Lodge, Royal Sheba, Forever Resorts Badplaas, Welgekozen Lodge, White Elephant Lodge, Jozini River Lodge, Jozini Tiger Lodge, Shayamoya Game Lodge

 

·         Catch up on everything: www.theEXPEDITIONproject.com

·         Find out what we are doing: www.facebook.com/theEXPEDITIONproject

·         Tweet us: www.twitter.com/expedition365

·         Watch our latest video: www.youtube.com/theexpeditionproject

 

But what would really help is...

·         SMS 'ShowMe', your name & your town to 36764 to sponsor 1km of our journey (R5/SMS) or

·         Donate: Nedbank | 141005 | The EXPEDITION Project | 1017131082

 

If you can't wait then...

·         Call us: +27(0)76 2012 365

·         Join us for a chat: BBM/WhatsApp Pin- 27E264CB

Made possible by:

Place in the Sun, Jam Factory Advertising, Firestarter Media, Pam Golding Properties, ShowMe South Africa, Fairtrade Label South Africa, Quiksilver SA, Open Africa, Miko Coffee, Trees 4 Schools, Motivate Cape Town, What’s Up South Africa.

Tags: fairtrade label south africa, firestarter media, jam factory advertising, miko coffee, open africa, pam golding properties, place in the sun, quiksilver sa, showme south africa, trees 4 schools

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