TUSKER'S HISTORICAL TIMELINE
THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Since Eddie Frank’s 1977 pioneering expedition in Africa, Tusker Trail has been pushing the boundaries of adventure for daring travelers around the globe. Today Tusker Trail continues to push those boundaries even further, opening the world to adventurers on life changing journeys to every corner of the planet.
So, take a moment to travel back in time on our historical timeline below, and get ready for a wild ride.
1977 – On a friend’s dare, Eddie leads his first expedition across Africa in British Army Land Rovers via the Sahara. The expedition is planned for 4 months, and cost $850 to join. That’s where it all started.
Adding to the excitement, while in Benin in West Africa they get stopped at a roadblock. The soldiers at the roadblock think that the group are mercenaries and take the group to prison. Eddie and the US consul hatch a trick to get the group out of captivity – but only after having spent two weeks there. That was Africa in the crazy 1970’s.
1977 to 1980 – Eddie launches a daring trans-Sahara truck selling business in West Africa. However, a rough start with breakdowns and massive sandstorms leave him almost broke.
Down to his last $20, Eddie finds himself stranded in Bangui in the Central African Empire. The military dictator, self-appointed Emperor Bokassa, who was rumored to have human flesh in his fridge, approaches Eddie and buys his four trucks. Two months after Eddie leaves the country Emperor Bokassa gets deposed by a military coup.
1980 to 1983 – Eddie leads 16 adventurers in a 6-ton truck across the Congo River on a barge, built out of three canoes roped together. The year before a friend sunk a similar truck in the river.
During these early years Eddie crosses Africa a lot, including 33 times across the Sahara Desert. On numerous occasions he gets lost in the desert, but eventually finds his way out. He says that each time he crossed Africa he feels like he is stepping into another world, full of fascinating cultures, traditions, and landscapes.
1983 – While crisscrossing the African continent, Eddie arrives in Tanzania and his encounter with the wildlife feels really familiar from his childhood in the African bush. So, he starts leading wildlife safaris in East Africa.
While on safari in a remote part of Botswana, while watching a pride of lions 15 yards away, Eddie hears diesel pouring out the bottom of his fuel tank. With one eye on the lions, he crawls under the truck to fix the leak. Leak repaired, and arms and legs intact, he gets on his way.
JUNE 1983 –Teaming up with NASA astronomer, Dr. Laurance Doyle, Eddie leads and expedition to NAMORATUNGA in north Kenya, a remote site with a 2,000-year history. They discover that a now-extinct pastoralist people used stone pillars as an observatory.
The site is known as NAMORATUNGA which means “people of stone. ” A local legend says that men turned to stone if they laughed or cried while the devil sang his song. Frank and Doyle still run astronomy trips to view solar eclipses.
DEC 31, 1983 – Tusker’s trans-Africa expedition celebrates New Year’s Eve in the dusty Sahara town of Agadez. They plan to cross the border into Nigeria the following day. But the Nigerian army stages a coup and closes its borders.
The group is stuck in the neighboring country of Niger for the next 3 weeks. Then Nigeria opens up — but only for 5 days. Long enough for the group to get in, and out the other side to the Cameroun.
1985 – Eddie moves Tusker’s safari base from East Africa to Zambia at the Victoria Falls. This turns out to be exactly where his parents had their honeymoon in 1951!
Now located close to the Zambesi River, Eddie runs leads exciting scouting trips into western Zambia and takes his groups canoeing down the Zambesi River amongst hippos and crocodiles, viewing the massive herds of elephants and other wildlife on the riverbanks.
1985 — 1993 – Eddie walks into the radio station with an armful of records that he just brought back from Africa. The beat is good, the DJ invites him back every time he returns from Africa – for the next 9 years until the show ends in 1993.
Over the years, with his passion for African music, Eddie amasses one of the largest and finest collections of African dance music outside of Africa. In the process he builds a life-long friendship with African music star Samba Mapangala, who hails from the Congo via Kenya.
1985 — 2005 – When crossing borders on an expedition, Eddie uses a savvy mix of diplomacy, political awareness, and an occasional ”gift.” His advice: Always be respectful, extremely patient, and buddy up with the border guards.
Around midnight on a safari some lions start playing with the tents flapping in the wind. Eddie gets up and chases the cats away with a flaming log from the campfire.
1989 – Eddie and Dr. Laurance Doyle team up again, on a scientific expedition to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. They discover a unique stone marker showing that the ruins have astronomical features dating from 400-1400 AD.
Following the moon, sun, planets and stars for centuries, the position of the ruins and their complex markings suggest ancient Zimbabweans tracked orbital patterns of Earth and Venus, allowing them to forecast eclipses.