de Bray, born in 1945, spends six years as a child in Kisangani
(ex-Stanleyville), in the (then) Belgian Congo.
He graduates from ICHEC (Institut Catholique des
Hautes Etudes Commerciales), CIFEM (Centre Interdisciplinaire pour
la Formation aux Etudes de Marchés) and ESA (Ecole Supérieure
d’Approvisionnement). After university, he goes on a training
course in Canada. On his way, he visits the USA and Mexico.
Aged 23, he joins one of the largest Belgian companies,
a well-known retail giant. For 18 years, he works on computerisation
systems, budget management and management control in close connection
with the company’s directors.
During this time, he travels one month a year,
alone or with friends. Travelling becomes more than a hobby, it
becomes a passion. Year after year, you can find him backpacking
on the Inca trail in Peru, along the narrow gorges of the Hunza
valley in Pakistan or on the mule paths crossing the high passes
in Zanskar, in Northern India. These little visited areas fascinate
He also travels by Land Rover or by truck in Africa,
whether to reach archaeological sites such as Adrar Bous in Niger
or to explore remote corners of Guinea Bissau.
He buys and sends two trucks to Dar-es-Salam and
visits Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zanzibar.
He pitches his tent in the Grand Canyon on the
banks of the Colorado River and on the slopes of the Nanga Parbat.
You can find him in Berlin, in Quito or closer
to home, in Bruges, gazing at the stars.
He visits museums, natural reserves and department
stores. He jumps on a plane to go to a Joan Baez concert in Strasburg,
spends a weekend in a lost corner of Cornwall.
Between the ages of 40 and 55, he criss-crosses
Africa countless times. He buys Unimog military trucks (nine in
total, a whole fleet), which he converts into bush vehicles and
sends by boat to Southern Africa (Dar-es-Salam - Durban - Walvis
Friends help him achieve his projects. He sets
off in two trucks, crosses the Sahara to give them to a rural development
project run by Oxfam in Carboxenque, Guinea Bissau.
He becomes a guide and a tour leader for “Continents
Insolites”. His professional commitments only allow him to
travel in the summer, but what extraordinary summers they are: three
groups of 18 people, two trucks, three trips of 3,500 kilometres
each on mud and sand tracks… camping in the bush night after
Back in Belgium, he works as hard as he plays,
finding buyers for castles, water-mills or more conventional properties.
Other trips take him to Leh where he attends a
Tibetan festival, to Amarnath where he follows Hindu pilgrims on
their way to their sacred shrine deep in the mountains, he writes
an illustrated report on a local wedding ceremony in Rajasthan.
Tuscany and the towers of San Giminiano; Canada
and the mouth of the Saint Laurent; Cuba and Havana in the footsteps
of Hemingway….these are just some of the places he explores.
He goes to Ethiopia on his own to witness the Epiphany
festival, toys with the idea of taking his trucks to the country
but finally decides that local circumstances make this impossible.
Southern Africa is the place that attracts him
the most. From the natural reserves of Zimbabwe to the Okavango
Delta in Botswana he finally arrives in the Namibian desert.
He ends up going back to Kaokoland in Northern
Namibia more than ten times and takes thousands of pictures of the
Himbas, a people on the brink of extinction whose traditional way
of life has not been touched by modern development.
Namibia fascinates him, enthrals him. It is a magic
He could go anywhere in the world but goes back
to Namibia time after time for nearly ten years.
He also goes to little known parts of Ethiopia,
Madagascar and Costa Rica, which he visits with his daughter. The
Sudan is also on his agenda…
He goes back to places he knows well and loves: the Dogon country
in Mali and the White Desert in Egypt, where his son accompanies
When people ask him “Why do you travel so
much?” he can’t find an answer.
Is it a passion, an obsession, a fever?
Is travelling a quest or an escape? A way of meeting
new people or meeting the people one travels with?
There are so many different journeys to be made:
geographical journeys, intellectual journeys, spiritual journeys,
initiation journeys which every one should make if they want to
achieve their dreams.
One day, he gets a copy book, a pencil, a pencil-sharpener
and a rubber. On a beach in Zanzibar, he starts writing a story
which is buried deep inside him. He only spends three days on the
beach but it takes him three years to write the story.