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- Ash Dykes, 25, walked 1,600 miles from south to the north of Madagascar
- British adventurer climbed eight mountains during his 155-day expedition
- He contracted a deadly strain of Malaria and faced crocodiles and spiders
- Explorer previously won an award for walking the entire length of Mongolia
A British adventurer has become the first person to complete a gruelling 1,600-mile walk covering the length of Madagascar after beating malaria and fighting crocodiles during his 155-day journey.
Ash Dykes, 25, from Old Colwyn, north Wales, walked more than 3.5 million steps to reach Cap d'Ambre – the most northerly point of Madagascar – having set off from the south of the island last September.
He climbed eight mountains during his exhausting trek from Cap Sainte Marie and was forced to seek urgent medical attention after contracting the most deadly strain of Malaria halfway through.
However, after spending five days recovering from the life-threatening tropical disease, he bounced back to continue with his record-breaking walk – and completed it in the early hours of yesterday.
Mr Dykes climbed eight mountains during his exhausting trek across the length of Madagascar (pictured) and was forced to seek urgent medical attention after contracting the most deadly strain of Malaria halfway in
He said: 'It's been an incredible journey and I feel very privileged to experience the heart of Madagascar.
'The people are some of the most hospitable I've met and to be welcomed by tribes that, until now, have never even seen a foreigner was very special. Seeing how locals not only survive but thrive in remote and often perilous areas has been eye opening.
'However, nothing could have prepared me for just how mentally and physically tough the journey would be.
'This is, without a doubt, the hardest and most demanding challenge I've taken on - there were times it nearly broke me so reaching the finish line was quite overwhelming.'
The hardest part of his challenge was contracting Malaria, which left him having to be carried out of the jungle and taken to the nearest city – where he was told he had just hours to live.
He told The Times: 'When we got to the hotel, a doctor took blood tests and my temperature, which was 40C (104F). She later said that she thought I only had a few hours left, so I must have got there just in time.'
As well as contracting Malaria, Mr Dykes also suffered an adverse reaction to spider bites that caused his arms to blister.
He added to the newspaper: 'It's pushed me to extreme limits and I've stared death in the face on a number of occasions, but I endured and persevered through the pain to the finish.'
During his expedition, he battled with unforgiving and dangerous terrain and had to narrowly avoid crocodiles, scorpions, snakes and even poisonous centipedes found in the depths of the forests.
He faced sweltering deserts and sand dunes in the south before hacking his way through dense jungle and rainforest in the north with temperatures scaling from 0C right up to a sweltering 45C.
Throughout the walk he met dozens of local inhabitants, giving him the chance to understand the Malagasy way of life.
Mr Dykes, who has the nickname 'the lonely snow leopard' (pictured in Madagascar), has been nominated for this year's National Adventure Awards and selected as an ambassador for the 'Wales Year of Adventure'
As well as contracting Malaria during his trek from the south of Madagascar to the north of the island (right shows his journey), Mr Dykes also suffered an adverse reaction to spider bites that caused his arms to blister
The hardest part of Mr Dyke's Madagascar challenge (pictured) was contracting Malaria, which left him having to be carried out of the jungle and taken to the nearest city – where he was told he was just hours from death
One tribe gifted him with a chicken ahead of his journey to summit Maromokotro, the highest mountain on the island, and told him to set it free at the top in order to destroy bad spirits.
He affectionately nicknamed the animal Gertrude before allowing it to fly off upon reaching the summit.
When there weren't locals around to invite Mr Dykes into their homes, he took to living a very primitive way of life – having spent four months in his back garden in Wales preparing for the outdoors.
Not only was he relying on natural resources to get him out of situations - he was left stranded at the foot of a mountain following a cyclone and built a raft from wood to float across a flooded river –he also had to forage for wild nutrients including mangos, banana, sugar cane and lychee, as well as lesser known raffia fruit and kat leaves.
He said he chose Madagascar for its status as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. Around 75 per cent of the species found on the island live nowhere else on the planet.
He said: 'Madagascar is a country of stark contrast with some very real environmental issues and a big part of the expedition was to highlight this.
'There's a huge threat to a lot of the island's endemic species but so many conservationists are in place to rescue and protect them with very positive achievements.
'In the past year alone, over 10,000 trees have been planted to reforest and protect the habitat of the Northern Sportive Lemur, so it's great to see projects making a difference.'
During his expedition across Madagascar, he battled with unforgiving and dangerous terrain and had to narrowly avoid crocodiles, scorpions, snakes and poisonous centipedes found in the depths of the forests
One tribe (pictured) gifted him with a chicken ahead of his journey to summit Maromokotro, the highest mountain on the island, and told him to set it free at the top in order to destroy bad spirits for a safe descent
Mr Dykes was welcomed into many of the locals' homes on the island, but also faced nights camping outside
During his time on the island, he visited several conservationists including the Lemur Conservation Network which protects the island's most famous inhabitants - with more than 100 species of lemur present.
In the south, he met with Azafady - a humanitarian and environmental charity that aims to alleviate poverty and conserve unique and biologically rich environments. Meanwhile, in the north, he trekked into Montagne des Francais with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership to spot one of the 50 remaining Northern Sportive Lemurs.
Throughout the expedition, he witnessed both the rampant forest fires destroying the land, and the simultaneous reforestation and habitat protection efforts, revealing the ongoing battle they face.
He was also lucky enough to see some of the island's rarest species first-hand, including the Madagascan Pochard Duck, which is native to Madagascar with less than 50 left in the world.
He said he is now looking forward to tucking into a cheese toastie and having peanut butter, and is already planning his next adventure – although he said he can't yet reveal the destination.
He has been nominated for this year's National Adventure Awards and selected as an ambassador for the 'Wales Year of Adventure'.
In 2014, he achieved a world-first accolade after walking the entire length of Mongolia including the Gobi Desert – which earned him the nickname 'the 'lonely snow leopard'.
In 2014, Mr Dykes achieved a world-first accolade after walking the entire length of Mongolia including the Gobi Desert – which earned him the nickname 'the 'lonely snow leopard'. He is pictured above in Mongolia
During his expedition across Mongolia, Mr Dykes spent 78 days alone, crossing 1,500 miles of the unforgiving Gobi Desert and the vast Mongolian steppe. He took with him a 265lb home-made trailer containing food packs
Mr Dykes is pictured upon completion of his 1,500-mile trek across Mongolia, which earned him an award
During that trip, he spent 78 days alone, crossing 1,500 miles of the unforgiving Gobi Desert and the vast Mongolian steppe.
Battling sandstorms, heat exhaustion and loneliness, he completed the mission on foot and unsupported.
For the duration of the expedition from the western Russian border to the easterly Chinese border, he dragged a 265lb home-made trailer containing food packs, water butts and camping equipment.
His perseverance even saw him travel 34 miles in one day, walking for 14 hours straight at an altitude of more than 8,000ft.
Since Mr Dykes left home at the age of 19, he has embarked on more adventures than most people do in a lifetime.
From surviving in the Alps to living among a Burmese hill tribe, his experiences have led to him becoming a motivational speaker - visiting 10 Downing Street and filming his own documentary along the way.