Watching the total solar eclipse of 1999 from a grassy field in Cornwall, a captivated Ben turned to his best mate Owen and said, “Wherever the next one is in the world, we have to be there”.
For Ben, this cosmic event heralded the start of further adventures around the world to witness more of these celestial happenings. Their random distribution taking them to some rather interesting, less visited parts of the planet.
Eclipse 2000 – Mozambique
A four-wheel drive, three friends, a glovebox full of maps and a rough idea where they were heading - central Mozambique.
This three-week expedition through Southern Africa ignited Ben’s passion for overland travel and opened his eyes to the cultural beauty of this exciting continent.
Ben was living in Port Edward, South Africa at the time. The line of totality for the Total Solar Eclipse on the banks of the Zambezi River, was just a short distance away – 1800kms to be precise…and so they set off.
Border crossings, corrupt police, wild animals, flood disaster zones and Red Cross refugee camps were some of their experiences along the way. On arriving at their destination, Vila de Sena, they quickly realised the local community didn’t know anything about the impending solar event.
Camped at the edge of the river, in the shadow of the longest rail bridge in Africa the team attracted quite a crowd, all wondering what on earth they we’re there for.
On the morning of the eclipse, with the help of dark welding glass and eclipse glasses, the assembled crowd watched in wonder as the celestial events unfolded.
They shared the amazing experience with the local community and a few dogs. As normality returned Owen turned to Ben and said…
“Wherever the next one is in the world, we have to be there”
Eclipse 2001 – Botswana
Land of the Kalahari, diamonds, donkeys and elephants…thousands of them.
Having developed a real taste for overland travel Ben and Owen set off on another four-wheel drive adventure across Southern Africa.
Roads with tarmac and white lines were replaced potholes and corrugations, as they made for the line of totality in the far north of the country. Passing deserted mining towns, crossing huge saltpans and vast national parks, this was Africa at its most exhilarating.
Camping wild in Moremi and Savuti National Parks, far from the safety of civilisation gave them close encounters with lion, hyena and thousands of elephant.
Sleeping on top of the vehicles with night–vision cameras recording every movement seemed like a good idea at the time, especially as they’d baited the camp with chicken carcasses. But as a fully-grown male lion walked past their tent the only sounds they could hear was the whir of the camera and their own heartbeats!
Kachikau, a small town in the north of the country, lay slap-bang in the path of totality. It was here Ben and Owen watched the spectacle unfold, and they witnessed their third eclipse in as many years.
Eclipse 2012 – Cairns, Queensland
Having experienced three eclipses to date and with his extensive knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef, Ben was asked to be a report live from Vlasoff Cay for NASA to stream to their website.
Ben, Sophee and Owen departed from Cairns Marina at 3am onboard Passions of Paradise and at 06:38 watched the eclipse take place sending live images of the event around the world to over 300 million people.