The Project

The expedition

The Manneken Trip’s purpose is to explore the Americas from North to South. The challenge consists of changing regularly of travelling means without never using any type of motorized vehicle. The journey will start in North Canada and will end in South Argentina by doing: Snowkite and Backcountry skiing, kayaking, horse riding, cycling, sailing and walking.

1. The great white North

The Manneken Trip will begin in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, a village of 1,000 inhabitants on the Arctic, in northern Canada. The goal is to rally Winnipeg by Nordic skiing and snow-kiting, roughly 2,500 km across the tundra, the Hudson Bay, boreal forests and Lake Winnipeg. On the program: white landscapes, polar weather, bears and … a lot of nothing! The great North is legendary, conditions are extremes and leave no room for errors. To go into polar conditions is to be sure of coming back a little more humble. This make it undoubtedly one of the most difficult stages of the expedition.

2. The Mississippi river

The second part of the journey will be on water by kayaking the Mississippi river. It represents 3780 km of paddling from Itasca Lake (380 km south of Winnipeg), to the river’s delta close to New Orleans. The descent of the Mississippi generally takes between two and three months. Though endless, the river is of an affordable difficulty, but includes complicated stretches of 13 km wide. Since its source and delta are separated by 2000 km of latitude, the Mississippi offers an impressive variation of environments: from the region of the great lakes to the bayou of Louisiana.

3. The Caribbean Sea

After rallying New Orleans to Belize by bike the Manneken Trip will purchase a sailboat in order to navigate alone the Caribbean Sea along the coast in direction of Georgetown, British Guiana. This is the unique opportunity to be captain of my own boat and discover life at sea.

4. The Amazon forest

The Amazon is undoubtedly the antipode of the Canadian North: the green hell versus the white hell. The Amazon will be crossed in two stages after joining Boa Vista by bicycle from Guyana. The first part consists of descending the Banco River, followed by the Rio Negro to Manaus. The second is to go up the Purus River, a tributary of the Amazon, to Peru. If the first part is carried out entirely in dugouts, the second part will be a mixture of walking and dugouts or pack-rafts navigation.

5. Horse-riding Argentina 

Horse riding will be the opportunity to create a strong bond with an animal, which in this case becomes a travel partner. Argentina will lend itself perfectly to this challenging experience. The adventure will be heavily dependent on the choice of the horses in San Miguel de Tucuman’s area. Once the team composed, the caravan will head along the Andes and the “road 40” in direction of Perito Moreno.

6. Walking Patagonia

The end of the trip will take place on foot, walking along Patagonia’s national parks. Rumours say an ascent might take place in the Andes… Mountains being not yet included into the expedition, it will be the opportunity to allow a last detour before concluding the adventure. Patagonia is also a return to the cold. A way to loop the loop, from one polar ocean to another.

Summing up, the Manneken Trip is an estimate of 30 months of human challenges, totalising about 35.000 km across 16 countries and combining at least 6 different sports into very different conditions as: polar region, rivers, the Caribbean Sea, jungles and desert areas. The Manneken Trip is the first human attempt of a man-powered crossing of the Americas using such a variety of practices.

Arnaud Maldague

Arnaud Maldague

Born in Brussels, Belgium, I’m currently 29 years old. Having graduated as an economist in 2015, I decided to dedicate myself into combining two passions: exploring the world and achieving sport and human challenges. “The Manneken Trip” journey will be one accomplishment of these goals. Passionate by sports and in dire need of discoveries, I travelled for 9 months on a bicycle during the year 2011-2012, from Brussels to Australia, allowing to cycle 13.000 km through 16 countries in Europe, Middle-East, Asia and Oceania. The part of this trip with my friend Sebastien, 5 months from Brussels to Bangkok, it’s stories (in french) and photos can be seen at the following adress. When returning to Belgium, in order to obtain my degree, I brought one certainty home that inflame me since then: I’ll explore again… “The Manneken Trip” is the outcome of years of reflexion, combining my thirst for discoveries and challenges but also a profound desire to promote ethical and environmental actions.

Cycling in Laos 2011-2012

Early adventures

As far as I can remember, sport has always been a part of my life! I started judo at only six which had a huge impact on my education. It taught me respect, hard work, humbleness and many other essential values. After reaching national competition (Belgium), in 2004 and 2005, injuries made me level competition down. Nonetheless, Judo is still a school of life and a passion today, my grade is currently black belt 2th Dan, looking forward to progress.

Black Belt 2th Dan

That is, I always combined judo with other sports, discovering myself many passions and learning various complementary skills. Indeed, my father was kind enough to introduce my brother and I to rock climbing at our very early walking age and to alpinism at only 11 years old. Those sports, as well as 18 years of scoutisme, led us to the outside world, the backcountry and the unknown. The same call of the unknown led me years later, at 21, to decide to travel on a bike. Discovering through sports was a perfect match, but a bicycle which is an awesome traveling mean has its limits as well. Questions aroused: What if I went out of these roads? What if I went where there are no roads at all? How is it to travel on the water? How is it to bond with an animal that becomes your travel partner? Today I feel the call of the wild, which has driven and shaped this project: a unique opportunity to discover new practices, passions, and skills.

Discovering alpinism

Personal aspirations

Education and personal experiences made me sensitive to the environment as well as the inequalities and the disparities of life existing in our world. This non-motorized project is an opportunity to help make a change by combining my passion for traveling with the values of environmental preservation and corporate social responsibility. This is why I will promote, through “the manneken trip”, environmentally friendly initiatives during the whole journey.

Philippines Jungle

The environmental project

The Manneken Trip will end in 2020, which meets the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals. I will promote environmental initiatives all around the American continent at different levels: people, businesses, Green Technologies, Non-profit organizations and Environmental scientists. I want to demonstrate, outside the fact that I will not use any fuel or motorized vehicle, that many inspiring people go every day out of their comfort zone in order to change the world and that we all can!

I’m deeply convinced that our environmental issues and climate change catastrophes can be overcome with the same spirit and energy investment that the Manneken Trip’s expedition: by going out of our comfort zone and making changes into our daily routine. This environmental project is core to the expedition spirit and exploration goals. Hence the Manneken Trip is a nature driven project, it’s a response to the call of the wild, a try to meet nature under its most varied forms by becoming a chameleon. But this green project will focus on other people, it will add much more interesting dimensions for this project by including international citizens working each in their own way towards a shared mission: life!
Here are some example of ecological initiative

  • Permafrost climate change research
  • Hydroponic & eco-friendly greenhouse
  • Green Technologies
  • Recycle-Art by youth organizations
  • Local cooperative businesses
  • Eco-affordable homes
  • Waste recycling plants/businesses
  • Enterprises using waste as by-products and production inputs
  •  Wildlife preservation alternatives
  • Permaculture farms
  •  Water preservation
On a more frequent basis, I plan to promote unexpected encounters with citizens’ original or outstanding “green” actions under the form small stories. People’s initiatives cans be various as: items recycling, original objects re-use, eco-friendly lifestyles, community initiatives, etc.