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Project Escape

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Project Escape

Donovan van Graan
  • Donovan van Graan and Ursula Grobler have taken a crossroad in their lives to inspire a journey of self-discovery that they have named Project Escape. This is their story.
Project Escape

Why #ProjectEscape?


Why this journey of escape? Because as two people, we have come to a crossroad in our lives. One Olympic girl’s endeavour has come to a pause and the other, an IT Database guy needs something tangible to conquer.


We have planned to drive in our regular Toyota Etios Cross (not a 4×4) on a journey starting in Namibia, which offers a land of vast deserts, deep river gorges and countless stars. Then following in the steps of the Khoisan towards the famous granite domes of Spizkoppe where we will see some of the best preserved rock art in Southern Africa.


From there we will go in search of Dr. Livingston in the Caprivi Strip in Zambia, then onto Malawi and ultimately Tanzania to summit Kilimanjaro. The drive back will include Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. We have planned this journey to take 45 days to complete, driving roughly 300km a day. At the end, the total distance travelled will be in the excess of 14000km.


Why you might ask? Why not just fly there and save all the trouble of long-driving and troublesome border crossings? Because #ProjectEsacpe is much more than just a shoestring trip to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It’s a journey of self-discovery and reinvention for both of us. It’s a journey…full stop.


When contemplating self-love and how this trip encapsulates this idea, I got to thinking about what self-love is not. Self-love is not about selfish needs or creating an outward, altruist image of yourself. Self-love is about attaining a state of self-worth which goes beyond identity; where your achievements don’t define you. You simply just are-

…and that is ok for you and those you share your life with.


In our performance driven world, where our results, no matter how great, remain short lived and seem never enough, to just be and accept that, is really quite hard. This African Adventure with its chosen, challenging climates is going to be our first step of just being. Actually doing it, Walking the talk. In addition to the challenges of terrain, we will also be in each other’s space for 45 days. A great way to learn to accept each other’s state of self-love.


We hope that at the end of this journey, our relationship will be in an incredible place. There is nothing better than having your best friend along on a road trip. These are the experiences we want to build our lives from, and getting closer to the core of what really makes a difference. This will be not just an adventure of a life-time but an adventure to define our lives going forward…

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