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Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa

Taking an ultralight mindset to Africa requires an adjustment, but the lessons learned and the experiences had in Africa are rarely matched.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2014-06-17 00:00:00-06

Introduction

I’ve always admired long-time BPL Member Francis Tapon’s thirst for adventure that leaves most of us well out of our comfort zone. In the face of adversity, including the burden of carrying an ivy league education and the unexpected death of his father, Francis has a unique ability to meander his way through trials by facing adversity gracefully, patiently, and without surprise.

 - 1
The young guy in blue led me across dunes in the pre-dawn darkness so we could climb to the tallest dune and get a view. He would hike up the sand as if it were pavement - effortlessly! I huffed and puffed behind him. - at Erg Chebbi (Sahara Desert).

Francis is currently on a four-year mission to visit every African country (54 of them!), document their unseen culture, and develop the media into a TV series. Francis is currently raising money for the pilot episode via Kickstarter, check it out:

Please consider pre-ordering the pilot episode of The Unseen Africa.

An Interview with Francis Tapon

I had the chance to catch up with Francis recently to discuss his African adventure, and dive into a little bit of the philosophy, style, and equipment that drives his quest to search for the Unseen!

RJ: Africa is pretty big. You planned out a serpentine route circumnavigating the continent. What was the biggest challenge you faced in route planning before you embarked on your journey?

FT: Nothing really because I didn't put too much thought into the serpentine route that I drew. I simply spent a few minutes drawing my ideal route. It's a route that avoids backtracking yet allows me to visit all 54 African countries.

It's the equivalent of you drawing a line on a map of Alaska for your Arctic 1000 route. First comes the basic, idealized line, which takes a few seconds to draw. Next comes the miles-by-mile map based on meticulously studying topographic maps, which can take weeks to draw.

I have never done Part 2: I don't know if my route is really feasible. Instead, I just plan a couple weeks or months in advance as I go.

 - 2
In a village in Guinea Bissau.

Although I've pretty much followed the route perfectly in the first year, I suspect that at some point I'll run into some border that is closed, for example, and I'll be forced to re-route. That's similar to when you run into a forest fire on a thru-hike.

The one thing I did know before I drew that line is that the Morocco-Algeria border has been closed for decades. That's one reason why I wanted to start in Morocco and end in Algeria.

RJ: I’m sure you’ve deviated from the route you originally planned. When I deviate from my route in a Montana wilderness, it’s like … there’s a snake in the trail, so I better step around it. When I dream of the types of things that you are facing, I’m thinking about packs of lions, armed militia, or flooding rivers. What sorts of unplanned trials caused your biggest route deviations in Africa?

FT: The biggest headache is one that backpackers never have to worry about: visas. Most African countries require a visa. Getting them are often complicated, time consuming affairs. They're usually expensive ($50-100 each) and they expire after a few weeks.

For example, my visa to Nigeria was expiring on March 5, 2014, yet my car was getting repaired in Benin in February. This forced me to go into Nigeria by hiring a motorcycle driver to take me there. From there, I explored via buses and then I returned to Benin 10 days later.

It was annoying because I really wanted to spend more time in Nigeria, despite Boko Haram.

Still, you're right that I need to constantly make adjustments as I go depending on what I hear on the ground.

For instance, the Moroccan military forced me to make detours twice because they didn't want me to go into restricted military zones.

 - 3
The Sindou Peaks look like dozens of stone fingers clawing at the sky. - in Sindou, Burkina Faso.

Similarly, in Mali, the police refused to let me to enter the town that has the tallest mountain in Mali. So I had to sneak in at 2:00 a.m. That caused two of my Malian friends to be tossed in jail when the police couldn't locate me (they thought my friends had conspired to kidnap me).

I eventually got them out of jail, a few hours later.

RJ: When I think of Africa, I think of heat. I get anxious when the temperature gets above 80 deg F on my backcountry expeditions - that’s siesta time for me! Other than the usual travel magazine advice (“drink lots of water and wear a wide brimmed hat!”) what sorts of practices and equipment do you have to employ to adventure and explore in sustained heat like this?

FT: Hiking the PCT's and CDT's deserts prepared me for the Sahara, although the temps can be even more brutal in the Sahara. Only in Death Valley will you find temps that are comparable.

 - 4
Overlooking Burkina Faso.

Outside the Sahara, in West Africa (where I've spent over a year), the temps are lower than the Sahara, but the humidity is much higher. From December to June the temps have been in the 30s C (90s F) nonstop. During the day in Niger (where I am now) temps hit 45 C (108 F) in the shade. It's just unsafe to backpack in those temps.

As I wrote for BPL, I'm a big umbrella fan, especially for the hot desert. I'm against a wide brimmed hat, which just traps heat in your head and doesn't prevent the sun from cooking your body.

An umbrella more than makes up for its weight penalty in the desert as it allows you travel much farther with the same amount of water.

Keeping the sun off your clothes is critical in the Sahara. Think about when you put your hand above hot coals. If it's far enough away, you hardly feel anything for a few seconds or even a few minutes.

 - 5
M'Goun is Morocco's 3rd tallest mt (at over 4,000 meters). It's rarely seen even in the summer, but I enjoyed a lonely climb to the summit in March 2014.

However, if you keep it there long enough, it will start cooking/burning your hand, just like you'd cook a piece of meat.

Same goes for the sun. Step out of the shade, and the sun feels marginally warmer than the shade. However, stay in the sun for several minutes and hours, and then you're going to get baked, literally. It's going to sap your energy. Your hiking efficiency (and enjoyment) will decrease.

So it's imperative, in the hot desert, to prevent the sun from touching you or your clothes. A wide hat is ineffective at doing that.

Hats, as we know from winter backpacking, trap heat and help keep you warm. That's wonderful when it's snowing, but dangerous when it's boiling.

Ideally, you want to be naked yet in the shade, so that as you sweat, the breeze cools your body. The only way to make such shade is an umbrella.

RJ: Have you experienced “cold” in Africa?

FT: On the crest of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco in March. I traversed the length of the High Atlas (800km/500 miles). The summits of the 4,000-meter (13,000+ ft) peaks were covered in snow and had fierce wind. It reminded me of being in the San Juan Mountains in May.

RJ: You’ve been around Backpacking Light for a long time; it’s been really exciting to watch you grow as an adventurer! Your books, presentations, and travel styles all reveal this smoldering “ultralight ethic” under your hood. You are living this ethic on so many levels that I can’t help but admire your ability to transfer that philosophy into living practice. What role has Backpacking Light played in development of your travel and living styles and philosophies?

FT: What I adore most about BPL is its scientific approach to backpacking. It's a quantitative, fact-based, analytical way of looking at an activity that is largely about feeling and spirituality.

Some think the two shouldn't mix. But I disagree and I'm glad BPL does too.

I have a bachelor's degree in Religion (the feeling/spiritual side of me) and an MBA from Harvard Business School (the analytical side). So both styles and philosophies co-exist in my brain and heart, and I'm thrilled that the same is true with BPL.

RJ: What remains in your life right now that you feel is still too complicated? Is it something you feel you need to simplify or have you accepted that it’s complicated and “that’s that”?

FT: The only thing in my life that is complicated is managing my many dreams. Boredom is something I have never felt in my life. I see idle and bored Africans and I want to borrow their time.

I think about my mortality every day. It motivates me so much.

On the other hand, it also saddens me because there's so much I want to experience that I'll never be able to do even if lived to be 1,000 years old.

My life is comically simple for a man in his 40s. However, it's still somewhat complicated to prioritize a bucket list that stretches to infinity when you have such a finite existence.

"I may die tomorrow or next year," I remind myself every day. It keeps me focused, it makes me a better person, and it encourages me to live a fulfilling and simple life.

RJ: You could be “back here” with the rest of us dealing with stupid and insignificant first world problems and obligations. I’m glad you’re not. They’re terrible things to waste your life on! But you know that, certainly. But I also know that you miss something back here, yes? Other than the usual (“I miss my family, friends, reliable hot showers, safe(r) food, and insect-free accommodations…”), what insignificant things about first world living do you miss?

 - 6
In 2013, I explored the west side of the Sahara (including Morocco, Mauritania, and Mali). I'm excited to return to the Sahara in early 2014 to see more precious unseen landscapes like this. I'll be traveling to Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. They're not exactly touristic hot spots. They're more like terrorist hot spots. They're home to fun folks like (Boko Haram and AQIM. So I don't plan to linger long, but I do plan to treasure my time there. - in Western Sahara

FT: Ben & Jerry's ice cream. High-speed Internet. Reliable people and services. Reliable electricity and water.

I don't miss my friends and family as much as travelers of yesteryear did. Skype, Facebook, and email keep us connected, even in Africa. When Livingstone traversed Africa, he was truly unplugged. Nowadays, it's hard to do that without having your loved ones revolt.

RJ: What are your most valuable pieces of equipment?

FT: The most expensive thing isn't listed on my gear list (below): it's my car, worth about $15,000.

The camera is worth about $5000. One shotgun mic is $700. A wireless mic is over $500.

RJ: What are the most challenging aspects of resupply in Africa?

 - 7
I was climbing North Africa's tallest peak by the rarely used southern approach. I used my umbrella as an ice ax on the steep, slippery snow fields. To learn more surprising uses of an umbrella, visit: Tapon.org/umbrella - at Mount Toubkal summit 4,167m.

FT: Electronics are hard to replace. So if you break your camera or your ultralight LED light, then you can't order it on Amazon and have it shipped to a post office. At least not easily.

Same goes for ultralight gear. Even Europeans complain about how hard it is to find ultralight gear in Europe, so you can imagine how impossible it is to find any backpacking gear in Africa.

RJ: Can you describe your day to day travel “routine”?

FT: Only in the broadest sense: I wake up, eat, move, and sleep.

Beyond that, there's little routine, unless I've decided to park it for a few weeks to reconnect digitally and write my book. Then I can be pretty sedentary, although I must run every day just to stay fit. It's just hard when it feels like a nonstop sauna.

Normally, though, every day is an adventure. I often have no idea what will happen or how the day will end. Surprises abound.

And that's the way I like it.

For example, just like I traversed Spain twice without maps, I traversed the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco without maps. Only advanced backpackers should do this, of course.

 - 8
I'm disappointed that I will no longer be able to donate blood in the USA since I got malaria in Ghana. I'm banned for life. Naturally, since most Africans have gotten malaria at least once in their life, they don't have such a restriction (otherwise nobody could donate!). So I was happy to give to Niger. - in Niamey, Niger.

What I love is that you get to feel like Livingstone or Lewis and Clark: you have no idea what's over the next summit or the next bend in the river. Suddenly, there's a waterfall or a swamp and you have to adjust. It's thrilling and spontaneous. And those are two ingredients for a fun life.

What’s in My Pack?

Given the miserable internet facility of Niger (where I tagged him recently) and the inability to transfer high-bandwidth video, I begged Francis to give us just a little teeny bit of visual insight into some of the things he carries in Africa. These are not necessarily the same things you and I would carry in the Wild American Backcountry!

Francis Tapon’s African Gear List

ModelDescriptionStoreWeight(oz)Purchase priceEstimated current valueNotes
Canon XF300Weight includes UV filtereBay86.8$4,557.00$5,000.00Cost includes 2 batteries, 1 charger
Lexar, Sandisk(5)Lexar($99 ea), Sandisk Extreme($150), Sandisk Extreme Pro ($202)Amazon, eBay3.3$847.00$1,480.00
GoPro Hero 3 Black EditionUnderwater/timelapse/slow motionMP Gear2.6$400.00$400.00
SanDisk UltraMicroSDHC, 32gb, Sandisk, 30MB/sMP Gear0.1$0.00$0.00Included with Go Pro
MP Gear1.5$0.00$0.00Included with Go Pro
GoPro LCD Touch BacPacTouch LCD monitor (weight includes case)MP Gear1.3$80.00$80.00
GoPro Battery BacPac(weight includes case)MP Gear1.7$50.00$50.00
MP Gear $0.00$0.00
BP-9757350mAh, 7.4v, 55whB&H11.3$215.00$215.00
Tiffen Digital HT eBay4.4$200.00$300.00
iKan 144 LEDIncludes (1)battery, chargerB&H used26$0.00$251.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
iKan $0.00 Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Flyweight camcorder handheld rig B&H55.7$0.00$500.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
WS XF300/305Protection for the main cameraB&H10.7$170.00$170.00
B+W UV Haze MRC 010M82mm, weight included in camera weighteBay0$47.00$106.00
NP-F5702100mAh, 7.2v, 15.8whB&H3.6$39.00$39.00
BP-9554900mAh, 7.4v, 37wheBay7.5$0.00$160.00Included with Canon XF300
CA-9308.4veBay11.9$0.00$130.00Included with Canon XF300
BP-9454500mAh, 7.2v, 31wheBay9.9$0.00$50.00Included with Canon XF300
Plugs into the charger and powers cameraeBay2.3$0.00$0.00Included with Canon XF300
Air blower and lens clothN/A4.5$0.00$0.00Bought by Josh
Ballhead X FocusWith Quick Release Plate $100.00
$50.00
Brunton Solarroll4.5 watt, waterproof, UV resistantBrunton16.2$0.00$300.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Ice Tech i12k12,000 mAh, 5V-24V, 15.5$0.00$500.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
0$0.00$0.00
Bestek 300w300w DC 12v to AC 110v-220vAmazon15.2$25.00$25.00
N/AUS/world > US/world, Surge protectorN/A3$0.00$10.00
N/AWorld > US(2 prong)N/A0.7$0.00$10.00
Master Electrician PS37UOGH Amazon3.7$5.00$5.00
Monster MP OTG BK300vAmazon5.7$10.00$10.00
Lenmar ACUSB4Includes all world adaptersAmazon5.9$18.00$18.00
Sanyo Eneloop XX2500mAh, 1.2v, NiMHB&H8.4$35.00$35.00
Sanyo Eneloop2000mAh, 1.2v, NiMHN/A3.7$0.00$0.00
Sanyo Eneloop chargerInput: 4w, Output: 1.2vN/A3.3$0.00$0.00
ew 112-p G3Mic and on-camera receiver B freqeBay11.8$500.00$629.00
Rode NTG-3 eBay5.8$525.00$700.00
Seismic Audio1' right angle to right angle XLReBay3$9.00$11.00
Audio-Technica10' XLRAmazon7.8$7.00$7.00
Rhode WS7 B&H1.7$60.00$60.00
Zoom H4n4 channel recorder, AC adapter, windscreeneBay14.8$212.00$270.00
HP4gb SDHCN/A0.1$0.00$0.00
Meelectronics Sport Fi S6 Amazon0.7$26.00$26.00
Asus Zenbook UX31A13.3" 1080p IPS, i5, 4gb ram, 128gb SSDeBay49.2$900.00$1,100.00
Targus APA037US65wBest Buy8.2$70.00$70.00Bought by Josh
Targus A7 Slipcase TSS108US15.6"Best Buy9.9$21.00$21.00Bought by Josh
Logitech Marathon M705AA batts, laserBest Buy4.7$40.00$40.00Bought by Josh
Asus eBay0.8$0.00$0.00Included with ultrabook
Transcend1TB, USB 3.0, meets military drop standardsAmazon8.9$93.00$93.00
Western Digital Elements Mini(1) USB 2.0 @ $45.00, (4)USB 3.0 @ $200eBay36.9$245.00$280.00
TranscendMulti-card reader, USB 3.0Amazon2.2$16.00$16.00
Sandisk Cruzer4gb, secondary backupN/A0.3$0.00$5.00Bought by Josh
Asus Google Nexus 732gb, AT&T cellular versionGoogle11.9$300.00$300.00
HTCMicro USBGoogle2.2$0.00$0.00
BelkinBlue/blackAmazon6.3$0.00$20.00
Zagg Bluetooth Keyboard Amazon11.4$40.00$40.00
Kindle Paperwhite 7.3$120.00$120.00
Lightwedge VersoRedN/A4.2$0.00$20.00
TP-Link TL-MR30403G, wireless N (weight includes charger/CAT5)Amazon7$0.00$45.00
AmazonHigh speed with ethernetAmazon1.3$0.00$8.00
N/A0.8$0.00$0.00Bought by Josh
iPhone 4Verizon, 16gbApple6.4$150.00$500.00Bought by Josh
30 pin USB chargerApple0.7$0.00$0.00Bought by Josh
Midland GXT100036 mile, 50 channelB&H15.5$57.00$90.00
Midland GXT1000AC/car charger, charging baseB&H9.8$0.00$0.00Included with walkies
DeLorme inReach for Smartphones2-way satellite communicator with GPSDeLorme8.5$0.00$250.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Parallax Elev-8Pain in the ass 16$0.00$1,000.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Spektrum DX6i6 channel transmitter 22.3$138.00$160.00
Storm Logic Sweater JacketEnsign, MExOfficio14.3$0.00$125.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Roughian Hooded Long Sleeve SweaterLoden, MExOfficio15.8$0.00$105.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
BugsAway Halo L/SLt. Pebble, MExOfficio7.7$0.00$85.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
GeoTrek'r Field CollectionSage, MExOfficio8.4$0.00$60.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Teanaway 1/4 ZipBlack, MExOfficio9.3$0.00$70.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Takeover Trek'r L/SGraphite, MExOfficio15.3$0.00$75.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
GeoTrek'r Field Collection S/SRainier, MExOfficio6.8$0.00$37.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Give-in-Go Boxer Brief(2) Black, (2) Blue - 2.9oz each, $26.00 eachExOfficio11.6$0.00$104.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Give-in-Go Boxer Brief(1) Black, (1) Blue - 2.9oz each, $26.00 eachExOfficio5.8$52.00$52.00Bought by Josh and Francis
REIBlue, MREI5.2$20.00$20.00
GoLiteGray, MGoLite5.5$0.00$50.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
BugsAway Classic CapLt. Khaki, One size, UnisexExOfficio3$0.00$24.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
X-O-FISH-E-OH Twill HatLt. Pebble, One sizeExOfficio3.2$0.00$20.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
BugsAway Cape HatSlate, S/MExOfficio3$0.00$25.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gossamer GearCoolGG1.7$0.00$10.00
Sol Cool Neck GaiterOyster, One sizeExOfficio1.3$0.00$20.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
N/AN/AN/A4.5$0.00$0.00
Possumdown42% merino wool, 33% possum fur, 17% lycra, 8% NylonLite Trail2.1$0.00$41.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Possumdown40% possum fur, 50% merino wool, 10% nylon, (3) pairsLite Trail3.9$0.00$64.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Smartwool3 pairs, ankle heightMassey's4.2$0.00$45.00Bought by Josh
Smartwool1 pair, crew height, thickMassey's3.3$0.00$15.00Bought by Josh
N/AN/AN/A11.3$0.00$0.00
550 paracordN/A0.4$0.00$0.00Made by Nicholas Whelton
Lite Trail0.6$0.00 Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 2012UltraliteGG27$0.00$235.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 2013 27$0.00 Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Platypus Big Zip II3.0 liters 4.5$0.00$30.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Lite Trail0.8
Ruko Muela 51616-1/4" Nylon/Zamak Handle Survival KnifeN/A5.8$0.00$59.00
Leatherman Juice CS 4Mulit-toolN/A5.4$0.00$60.00
Victornox N/A0.7$10.00$20.00
REI Field8x21, 7.2 degreesREI3.8$0.00$50.00
Husky HD-74501 AB Home Depot1$14.00$14.00Bought by Josh
GenericFor handheld camera rigN/A0.5$0.00$0.00Bought by Josh
General Brand Pro Gaff1", black
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp90 lumen, AAA batteries, redJacks R Better3.3$0.00$40.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp90 lumen, AAA batteries, greenJacks R Better3.3$0.00$40.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Brookstone No BatteriesHand-crank lightBrookstone4.9$0.00$15.00
Jacks R Better Self-Tensioning Line9', thera-band, 0.4oz eaJacks R Better1.6$0.00$40.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Go Lite Chrome Dome2 @ 8oz. EaGo Lite16$0.00$40.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Gear Aid Tenacious Tape60 sq. inchesJacks R Better0.7$0.00$5.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Dukal Survival Wrap52x84", 1.8oz eachAmazon7.2$28.00$28.00
MSR Packtowl Ultralite9x20", .8oz each 1.6$0.00$12.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
N/A0.4$0.00$0.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Scrubba Wash Bag Scrubba5.4$0.00$60.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
GG5.8$0.00$150.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Sheet72x96", 4.9oz eachGG9.8$0.00$7.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Evernew Titanium2 literREI11.2$60.00$60.00
Platypus1 literCascade Designs0.9$0.00$15.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Evernew(2) 2 liter pouches, 1.5oz eachGG3$0.00$10.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
N/ACustom by FrancisN/A16$0.00$0.00
Lite Trail NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag Lite Trail0.9$0.00$5.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
SteriPEN Traveler 3-in-14 AA requiredSteriPEN3.4$0.00$120.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
SteriPEN FreedomRechargable, microUSB (weight includes case)SteriPEN4.4$0.00$120.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Sawyer SqueezeFilters over 1 million gallonsGG3$0.00$45.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
ZPacks Hexamid Twin TentCuben fiberZpacks18.5$0.00$415.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Tite-Lite Tent StakesTitanium, 6.5", short, Hi Viz, $3.50 ea, .2oz eaGG1.6$0.00$28.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Tite-Lite Tent StakesTitanium, 6.5", V, Hi Viz, $4.00 ea, .4oz eaGG3.2$0.00$32.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Vargo OutdoorsTitanium, 6.5", 8pack = $21.20, .2oz eaZpacks1.6$0.00$26.65Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
ZpacksCuben fiber seam tape/replacement zippersZpacks1.2$0.00$5.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
ZpacksIncluded with Hexamid tentZpacks0.1$0.00$0.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Mombosa Tracker N/A5.9$0.00$20.00
High Sierra Sniveller800 fill down, 78x52", 3.5" loftJacks R Better30.3$0.00$280.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
The Katahdin Quilt900 fill down, 85x61", 3.5" loftJacks R Better38.1$0.00$300.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner Jacks R Better14.4$0.00$8.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gossamer Gear Thinlight Insulation Pad GG2$0.00$11.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Gossamer Gear Nightlight Sleeping Pad GG4.6$0.00$22.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
ZPacksUltra light toothbrushZpacks0.6$0.00$3.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Oral-B N/A0.8$0.00$0.00
Gillette Fusion Proglide N/A2.8$40.00$40.00
Sawyer Stay Put Sunblock1 fl. oz., titanium dioxideGG1.2$0.00$0.00Previous Francis Tapon Sponsor
Sawyer Picaridin.5 fl. oz., 20% picaridin (doesn't harm gear)GG0.8$0.00$3.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Sawyer Maxi Deet.5 fl. oz., 98% deetGG0.8$0.00$3.00Sponsor for The Unseen Africa
Totals1080.80$10,601.00$19,248.65

Citation

"Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/unseen-africa-jordan.html, 2014-06-17 00:00:00-06.

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Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa on 06/17/2014 12:01:52 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
Umbrellas in Niger! on 06/17/2014 15:18:20 MDT Print View

It's funny that the last time BPL interviewed me, I was carrying about five pounds of gear:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/podcast_090407_francis_tapon_cdt_yo-yo.html#.U6Cun_ldWSo

Now I have the longest and heaviest gear list on BPL! :D

Of course, when I go backpacking, I leave nearly all that gear in the car, and go back to my ultralight ways. Indeed, desert backpacking is ideal for going ultralight, aside from the water issues.

As I mentioned in the article, I love umbrellas for the heat. And I'm not the only one. Here are Nigerien kids playing with Euroschirm umbrellas as the sun sets:

Nigerien kids and Francis playing with Euroschirm umbrellas as the sun sets

Edited by ftapon on 06/17/2014 15:22:35 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Umbrellas in Niger! on 06/18/2014 18:14:41 MDT Print View

Wonderful. Stay safe, Francis.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Umbrellas in Niger! on 06/23/2014 16:44:46 MDT Print View

I enjoyed this interview. Inspiring journey.