View the New TUSKER LEGACY TIMELINE
Tusker Trail has created an exciting “web adventure tool,” the Tusker Legacy Timeline, a 40 year retrospective chronicling Eddie Frank’s and Tusker’s adventurous history. Tusker’s Legacy Timeline moves you from the early days in the Sahara to Tusker’s newest destinations. You interact with Tusker’s colorful history, from its early pioneering days four decades ago, all the way to the present.
Many adventure travel companies never get their hands dirty, preferring the Silicon Valley route – discovery via the internet; their “founders” never leaving the comfort of the office. By subcontracting to operators abroad they abandon the hands-on part of the operation, which is essential for building the texture, quality and standards of the trip. This method of “discovery” yields maximum profit, and minimum control over guides, gear, food and safety, often at the cost of the travel experience.
Tusker founder Eddie Frank does it the old fashioned way; the way he has for 40 years. Down and dirty. His plan-B doesn’t come out of an MBA play book. It comes from decades of experience on the ground. Eddie majored in grits & guts, and has been adapting to the travel market by exploring new destinations. His love of exploration remains Tusker’s foundation. And it’s all there in Tusker’s Legacy Timeline.
Early Years: Seeing it. Surviving it
Tusker’s timeline dates to February 1977 when Eddie had the bold idea to load a bunch of young world travelers into two British Army Land rovers, cross the Sahara and grind down into central and East Africa. It was fraught with challenges; the first trip was waylaid three weeks in a Sahara sandstorm. Another expedition was delayed by a Nigerian government coup. To finance his expedition company in the late 1970’s Eddie overlanded army surplus trucks to Africa from Europe and sold them. He was down to his last 20 bucks when he sold 4 trucks to Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa Republic and stayed afloat.
By 1983, Tusker’s first East African safari and astronomy expeditions pushed Tusker onto the adventure travel and scientific maps. Together with Dr. Laurence Doyle, a nationally respected astrophysicist, they discovered ancient stone pillars that now-extinct African tribes used to create a lunar calendar.
By 1993 Eddie had crossed the Sahara 33 times. The logistics learned on those endeavors would be Tusker’s underpinnings – resilience, fast thinking and pushing the boundaries.
It wasn’t until 1997 that Tusker got serious about Kilimanjaro, and as of today, Eddie has climbed it 52 times with his clients.
Middle Years: Tweaking the Concept
To distinguish Tusker on Kilimanjaro, Eddie sought to make the trip safer and started training his guides in medical wilderness safety in 2002. He focused on Kilimanjaro and discontinued overland expeditions in 2005. The Kilimanjaro experience was rewarding in multiple ways. In 2004 a blonde, tall Canadian dragon-boat racer was on the climb. Amy didn’t talk to Eddie the first four days, because she thought he was hitting on her. She was right. The match pushed Eddie in new directions. By 2006, Eddie and Amy were trekking all over Mongolia planning Tusker’s “out of Africa” treks.
Age of Expansion
In the last decade Eddie and Amy have taken Tusker into Nepal (2009), Bhutan (2013), Iceland (2014), and Peru (2016), while enriching the Kilimanjaro experience with charity climbs that have now raised over $13 million. Along the way Eddie has helped train the US Special Forces in high altitude adaptation and gotten involved with the CIA too. Not that CIA, but the original one – the Culinary Institute of America, which started training Tusker’s chefs in 2012. Tusker takes Napoleon’s quote to heart, “An army marches on its stomach.” Tusker’s Kilimanjaro army proves just that.
Tusker’s 40 year Legacy Timeline has a consistent thread. The approach over time was to handcraft every trip that its founder staked out and refined over time. Keeping the experience fresh and safe was important, but so was retaining the same sense of grit and adventure that first pushed Eddie across the Sahara 40 years ago.