From London to Lagos: Kunle Adeyanju almost died in the Sahara desert while cycling

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Kunle Adeyanju is a self-proclaimed daredevil who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice and cycled from Lagos to Accra in three days.

But it was his latest adventure that made headlines after he successfully made a motorcycle trip from London to Lagos.

The journey took 41 days, covering 13,000 kilometers (8,080 miles) through 11 countries and 31 cities.

Adeyanju went on the trip in part to raise money for the fight against polio with the Ikoya Metro Rotary Club, Nigeriawhere he is president-elect. He says he chose the cause because of a childhood friend who was suffering from a debilitating illness.

“Polio is a personal matter for me… As a child, my best friend had polio, and when we swam or played football, he could not do any of this… Unfortunately, my friend passed away a few years ago. didn’t have polio, he’ll probably still be alive today.”

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of wild polio virus in 2020, but there are still cases of the disease caused by the vaccine in the country.

Moments that make your hair stand on end

Adeyanjou’s breakneck ride through some of the world’s toughest terrain has led to several shocking moments in Morocco, he told CNN.

“The Tizi n’Tichka pass experience is the path that takes you to the summit of Atlas Mountain. This road is considered the most dangerous in Africa. It’s full of adrenaline and it’s the road you look away from. the road for one second or you can go into a ravine …

“The passage of the mountain pass takes about an hour and 30 minutes. And I can tell you that this is one of the most difficult 1 hour 30 minutes of my life.”

“But you know, after all that pressure, when you get to the top of Atlas Mountain… the reward for the view is greater than all the pressure you went through to get there.”

After the thrill of riding through the mountains, Adeyanju headed to the Sahara Desert, which he said he was afraid of because of the intense heat.

“There was a time when I checked the temperature when I was on the Mauritanian side of the Sahara and the asphalt was 53 degrees Celsius (127 F). I was pushing my bike at 150 km/h and it was an accident waiting in the wings,” he said.

Traveling 1,000 kilometers a day, it took him seven days to cross the desert.

“The Sahara is an unfriendly environment,” he said. “It is not designed to support life. The Sahara is here to kill you. She doesn’t forgive. You make a mistake and you may not come back.”

During the toughest part of the journey, Adeyanju said he survived two sandstorms and almost ran out of water.

“The Sahara on the Moroccan side is completely different from the Sahara in Mauritania. It is very windy on the Moroccan side. I survived a sandstorm twice that lasted 30 to 40 minutes. I had to put the bike down and lie face down. for 30 minutes until the storm passed,” he recalled.

Kunle Adeyanju (centre) arrives at the Ikeja Rotary club in Lagos on May 29, 2022 after a 41-day motorcycle trip from London to raise funds and awareness for the polio campaign.

Kunle Adeyanju (centre) arrives at the Ikeja Rotary club in Lagos on May 29, 2022 after a 41-day motorcycle trip from London to raise funds and awareness for the polio campaign.

BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images

After surviving the storms, he said that he almost did not survive because he ran out of water.

“I got carried away and drank because I was tired, and by the time I realized I only had one liter left in my hydrator, I still had about 450 kilometers to go.”

Dehydrated, disoriented and forced to drive slowly, he suddenly saw a Land Rover parked in the desert.

“Nature spoke for me,” he said. “Some guys did desert safaris. I drove up to them and could not speak … my speech was slurred … The guy just said: “Don’t talk, don’t talk.” car and gave me two 1.5 liter bottles of water. If I haven’t seen these guys, I don’t know if I’ll be here today.”

Adeyanju also experienced some eerie moments in the desert when he suddenly began to hear voices even though no one was around him, a phenomenon in which atmospheric conditions in an arid area can propagate sound over long distances.

“It brings the sound waves of voices to you clearly…and you hear voices everywhere,” he said. “Many people think it’s perfume, but it’s just science,” he added.

Rethinking Africa

By documenting his travels on social media, Adeyanju has attracted many fans and well-wishers, including members of the Rotary Club and others in the cycling community. He also picked up several high-profile fans, including Mali Prime Minister Chogyel Kokallu Maigu, who asked to meet him, he said.

Adeyanju, who has visited 75 countries, says that the most surprising thing about his adventures was an unexpected discovery about Africa.

“Before I went on this trip, I read a lot in the CIA World guide about the countries I was going to go to. For example, I excluded Burkina Faso from my trip because I had read about a foot in the African continent… I can tell you that everything I read about an African people or an African country is a lie, he said.

“Africa is wonderful. This is a country of diversity. It is a country of hospitality, the people are friendly and nice… It was a great discovery for me to say that we sell less than Africa… and we said the wrong things about ourselves, so I launched a campaign called Think Africa. My next vacation and all I want to do is in Africa. There are so many discoveries on this continent.”

Editor’s Note: You can donate to the Adeyanju fundraiser at gofundme.com

Top photo credit: BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images