South African motorbike rider, Lodie de Jager, will undertake a harrowing solo 15 000 kilometres ride from Germany to Russia and back to Germany, to raise funds for Operation Smile South Africa.
de Jager will set off on his Kawasaki KLR 650 from Berlin, Germany, on May 29, and is scheduled to complete his ride around 12 August.
de Jager will travel through Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Baltic States to Siberia, Russia. He will then turn northwest and start the long trek to the most northern point of the European continent, Cape North. He will then cross into Finland, riding north to Norway, turning south after reaching Cape North, continue through Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, until reaching the final destination in Munich, Germany.
This is de Jager’s second trip for Operation Smile. In 2010, he rode from Germany across Africa to raise funds for Operation Smile after hearing about the organisation from one of the students of his FSA Youth Exchange; an organisation that facilitates pupils’ exchange between South Africa and Germany, aimed at enhancing the personal development of young participants.
“When I did my Africa trip the people were so good to me,” says De Jager. “All over Africa, but especially in the desert regions of Northern Africa, people gave me water, food and often a bed to sleep in.”
He says that it is rewarding to be riding again for Operation Smile, a global non-profit, volunteer medical services organisation that provides free reconstructive surgery to those born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
“We are delighted and grateful that de Jager has again chosen Operation Smile South Africa as his charity of choice,” says Sarah Driver-Jowitt, Operation Smile South Africa’s regional director for Southern Africa. “We have been blessed by many people who have come forward and on their own steam provided support through raising awareness and raising funds. No matter the kind of support, everything helps when trying to decrease the number of people living with cleft lips and palates.”
It will be a tough trip, but de Jager is looking forward to enjoying the adrenalin rush of travelling outside the defined boundaries. Due to the vastness of the countries, de Jager says that if he finds better routes along the way he intends to take them. “I will stop at beautiful spots and enjoy the true spirit of adventure travelling.”
His nightly routines will involve pitching his tent, and washing (if there is water) before settling down to do a bit of reading and listening to music on his ipod before sleeping so he can get up early, pack and start riding.
To follow de Jager on his journey or to donate, visit www.naboom2germany.co.za