Louie grew up in an orphanage in Ugie, Transkei from the age of 4 to 16. He left the orphanage with no formal education to support two younger siblings (a brother and stepsister) and when he was 21 he legally adopted them.
1967 - 1980
He became a highly trained military counter insurgency officer. Decorated over a dozen times (in absentee).
Started work as a railway coach cleaner, post office sorter, chemical and medical representative.
Travel & work history
1980 - 1984.
Travelled parts of Europe and Africa while working as a medical representative. Set up agents in the UK and Europe with his partner Mr. Frikkie Oberholzer for “Overland Safaris” – an overland safari tour company using two converted army 4x4 Bedford trucks. Louie changed the name to "Off The Beaten Track Safaris" in late 1986 when Frikkie passed away.
1984 - 1985. Stayed and hunted with nomadic Bushmen.¹ (see article on www.beyondxtreme.co.za)
1986 - 1994. Travelled most of Europe, British Isles, USA. South America and Africa using various types of motorcycles and 4x4’s. During this period he was the group leader of 37 expeditions throughout Africa. Spent time in jail in Angola for trading in bacalhau.
Started writing his biographical book in 1994 titled; “Blood Diamonds - 49 Days in an Angolan Jail “.
After a lengthy 7 year court case, he wholly owned "Off The Beaten Track Safaris" - an overland tour company and travelled all of West and Central Africa. Louie sold the business in February 1995.
1995 - 1997. Travelled most of West Africa, Eastern Europe, Britain, Isle of Man and the whole of Ireland by motorcycle. From there he continued to North and South America by motorcycle. This motorcycle now has over 1.1 million kilometres. During 1996 he was the expedition leader for a ground to air expedition. The expedition entailed flying a Eurostar ultra-light aircraft from the Czech Republic down to Cape Town through East Africa (²chronicled in world-wide publications).
1998 – Louie wrote and self published the very successful book "The DIY 4x4 Guide to Africa and is busy completing The DIY Motorcycle Guide to Africa". Since 1994, he did comprehensive research for these DIY books, which includes a section on malaria and a way to eradicate this evil disease……a passion which is now foremost in his life and can be viewed on the website www.beyondxtreme.co.za.
Food Against Diseases (FAD) is a non-profit organisation, although research has taken over 20 years. To date, he is the only South African with a book at Royal Geographic Society in London.
1999- Travelled most of Russia and Siberia and the Tundra
2000 – Financed and filmed the successful documentary “Swimming the Zambezi” in aid of charity for Mrs Graca Machel’s FDC Foundation. Mrs Machel is former President Samora Machel’s husband and she is now married to former President Nelson Mandela. She is also one of the patrons of FAD as well as the world renowned singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka amongst many others. Other dignitaries on the list include Winnie Mandela and various African diplomats.
2001 - current. Invited by the Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan governments to help with their troubled tourism departments. Travelled Africa on three different routes for the African Bike Challenge (ABC) 13-part TV project.
He is a guest motivational speaker at large corporations and also give talks to abused kids and women who look after AIDS babies at villages around Africa.
He is currently busy with the African Bike Challenge series and writing Gantry and the grape seed gang.
¹ The Lone Explorer – published in 1988, actually took place in March 1984 – July 1985. Long story - I wrote the complete article and not Mandy Thompson whom I never met – hence the incorrect spelling of my name. I was on my way to Malawi and the aim was to stay and act as a self inflicted guinea pig in a malaria endemic area for a few weeks. This however didn’t pan out, because the Botswana Government arrested me in Francistown as a spy. What actually happened that day was that the South African government gave the military the go-ahead to covertly raid and bomb so-called “safe” ANC houses in Gaberone and Francistown. I was thrown in jail for 22 days and only went back in illegally (on foot) to defy an order given by the chief of the Botswana Defense Force who’s parting words to me were; ‘If you ever set foot again in our land of milk and honey, I will personally lock you up and eat the key so that you rot in hell’.
I never saw the milk or honey!
The Idiot who did it – published by OutThere magazine was also penned entirely by me and I chose the title because almost every potential sponsor I approached said I was an idiot to even think of such a crazy feat.
Briefly: Two days before leaving SA for Zimbabwe I was training on my cycle (a Colnago bicycle) and a motorist hit me sideways as I was leaving a car park (of all places!) and I broke my middle finger. When we arrived in Victoria Falls, I was the laughing stock of the whole town and a bet went around that I wouldn’t even make the first 6 kms. The wager was 2000 Zim dollars to add further insult and most folk asked my crew what they were doing with a complete lunatic!
The following morning, just before we left for the Angolan border, the bet rose to U$ 22,000 (in cash strapped Zimbabwe!), which wasn’t a good feeling for me, because obviously there were many people who were adamant that I wouldn’t survive and that I would be taken by a crocodile within minutes of getting in the water or a hippo would attack me, or I would drown.
A week into the swim, we lost satellite communication with the land crew because of a faulty battery and 4 of us slept at a convict camp in Zambia. Because I had a 7mm wetsuit on, I got double pneumonia turning back and forth in front of a raging fire. It was winter and freezing, and to boot, I slept on a log that had a nest of scorpions in its cavities – fortunately got stung on the broken finger, which eased the pain.
The pneumonia plagued me for 8 weeks (the entire trip was 13 weeks) and was so bad at one stage that I coughed chunks of blood, no vocals and a raging fever.
Halfway through the trip, I told most of the crew to leave because of many negative factors – examples being that they took everything for granted and wasted food in front of villagers who hadn’t seen steak or fresh vegetables for years and abused the satellite airtime. The rule was 5 minutes and they would use over 30 – 50 minutes. This pushed my finances through the roof because I had to have airtime for emergencies.
Note: Throughout the trip, I survived countless drownings, (I actually saved Bongani – from near death. He was a rescue kayaker and accompanied me on the Zim stretch only, including all the rafts. Most of the time, I had a skeleton crew with me, except in Mozambique when I was alone for 17 days) killer rapids, swam past 180,000 crocs over 2 m in length, hippo attacks (one so close that I actually pushed my hand against a bull’s gaping lower jaw to get away) , thousands of Zambezi shark and countless land mines.
River Man was written by a journalist (William Mason) who heard about my Zambezi swim on a radio interview. The public wanted to know how much money I had raised for Mrs. Graca Machel’s FDC foundation in Maputo, Mozambique