Reasons why Ripley Davenport's Namib Desert Expedition Claim is a fake.

From Ripley's autobiographical sketch in the Gobi2011 information packet: (To read annotations, download and open with Adobe Reader)

"In August 1998, Ripley completed a crossing of the Namib Desert, alone, from Oranjemund to the border of Angola. This feat went unrecognised, without sponsors or major media coverage. It had taken Ripley many years, several set backs and an exceptional degree of commitment to achieve his dream.
At the start of his 82 days crossing of the Namib Desert, he lost one of his camels, “Jangles” and was nearly drowned when a freak wave almost swept him out to sea. His two loyal camels, “Fiji”, and “Nelly” kept him company, as he battled his way up and down sand dunes, through dense bush and across remote desert terrain, where the temperatures soared 24-hours a day."

The same story is repeated here and here and in vivid detail here: (When Ripley Davenport realized his claims were being questioned, he attempted to cleanse the internet of the unsustainable claims he made. A good example of Ripley Davenport trying to back off his claims is found here, in the history of his LinkedIn page.

Ripley clearly doesn't remember his Namibia trip well. In one iteration of his website he says: "Ripley managed to traverse the entire Namib Desert with the aid of three camels, from South to North, from Oranjemund to the border of Angola in 82 days." In another iteration of his website he says: "With the kind permission of the authorties and the use of two camels, Ripley, within an inch of his life, managed to traverse the Namib Desert ending at the border of Angola in 82 days having lost 12kg in weight."

Only one person has done a trip similar to what Ripley claims. In 1995 Benedict Allen, a well know explorer and television celebrity approached Namdeb (the Namibian subsidiary of De Beers Diamond Corp) and, with the backing of the BBC, was given permission to make the trip. Allen had to travel 200 km into South Africa to find camels, spent several weeks just learning to work with them. Then he and a photographer made the trip, accompanied by a "minder" from Namdeb Security and provided with water, food and fodder drops along the way. This trip was made into a TVshow which Ripley Davenport had access to. There has been no evidence presented to suggest that Ripley Davenport ever visited Namibia.

1. Oranjemund is the southernmost town in the Sperrgebiet. You may only enter Oranjemund after a police background check and if invited by a resident. All residents are employees of Namdeb which has run the Sperrgebiet with virtual sovereignty for over 100 years. If Ripley had visited Oranjemund there would be a record of his visit, particularly if he arrived with 3 camels. The head of security for Namdeb, Peter Shout (under Leadership Team), who has been in the job since 1994 states categorically that there is no record of Ripley ever visiting Oranjemund.

2. The Sperrgebiet stretches over 200 miles north of Oranjemund and is patrolled by armed guards and entrance is strictly prohibited without permission which requires first a police background check. Again, Peter Shout is certain Ripley never received any permission.

3. Ripley claims in an taped interview with Cameron Smith that he "went" to Namibia with no prior experience with camels or desert. He told one of the Gobi 2011 clients who asked him about "losing" a camel how he dispatched the injured animal and Ripley said he "shot" him and changed the subject.

4. Ripley has never produced a single bit of tangible evidence of his Namibia trip. He has stolen images from the internet and claimed them as his own, in an attempt to seem credible. He claims his passport, which would contain visa stamps for Namibia, Turkmenistan, Niger, India was kept by the British Passport agency when he renewed his passport although it is standard practice for the old passport to be invalidated and returned with the new one.

5. Ripley claims to have completed the Namibia trek in 82 days ending in August. He is very specific about that number, 82 in repeated postings. If he finished on the last day of August that means he started his journey on June 8. At the "end of June" a friend of Ripley's remembers being on a flight with him from Belfast to Cyprus, a direct flight. In an earlier version of his website, he claims he did the Namibia trip from March through May, 1998.

6. Ripley claims to have had either two or three camels. Peter Shout and others with great experience along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia and the Sperrgebiet insist that there is simply neither fodder nor water to support camels or men along the route that Ripley claims to have done. And, camels are not native to Namibia; they are something of a curiousity. The idea that Ripley, with no experience handling camels could fly into a country and convice someone who owned these rare and expensive creatures (mostly used in tourist camps) to sell three of them for such an absurd and patently illegal expedition is frankly, unbelievable.

7. Ripley has claimed to have a journal from his Namibia trip and also claims to have it scanned to disc, yet has never made that material available other than a rather staged looking shot of the front cover of a journal.