Luke MacDonald, his cousin Jordan Deall and filmmaker Donovan Orr travelled over 27 000kms from South Africa in hopes of meeting Ellen DeGeneres in Los Angeles. Picture: Instagram

Luke MacDonald, his cousin Jordan Deall and filmmaker Donovan Orr are on a mission to meet award-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in Los Angeles. 

They travelled over 27 000 kilometres, from a warm South Africa to a rather chilly US, in hopes of meeting the American comedian to share their compelling travel stories of the last 8 months. 

They are hoping that their hashtag #HeyEllen on social media would attract the attention of the comedian. 

They are now a week or two away from “meeting” Ellen after hitchhiking through 14 countries, including Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Russia and the US. 

The group are no strangers to hitchhiking. 

After completing university, MacDonald and Deall hitchhiked from Durban to Egypt with only R5 000. The word spread of their adventure and soon Tomfoolery TV, a South African film agency wanted to collaborate on a project. 

MacDonald says that after being turned down by a few filmmakers, they met Orr, who accompanied them on their journey from South Africa into the Congo Jungle to find the world’s last dinosaur Mokele-mbembe.

Their documentary, which saw them travel across 10 countries, aired on Discovery Africa. 

Deall tells of how their new project came about: “We had a marketing budget and were trying to think about creative ways to spend it. We could either take a flight to the United States and pitch to the networks or try to double our budget and pitch for additional funding. 

“We ended up deciding to make a documentary about hitchhiking to Hollywood. DeGeneres was one of the most popular celebrities that our followers wanted us to visit during a poll.”

Not much planning went into the trip apart from making sure that all their visas were in order. 

Deall says: “Our trips do not involve much planning. We take it one day at a time. For example, we would plan to hitchhike from Durban to Harrismith on one day and plan the route for the next leg of the journey that evening.” 

The cousins reveal that they encountered a few challenges along the way. 

“Living with the same people for eight months is a challenge in itself. There are times you get over the hitchhiking in general, but you don't really get over each other. Hitchhiking often involves a lack of sleep, and you are running on empty most of the time. When you find a place to sleep, you have to always be cautious of your surroundings and your personal belongings,” Dealle emphasises. 

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#HeyEllen one of the best things about hitching is that you wake up in the morning never knowing where you might end up! 3 days ago we got picked up by Doug and Alex, two Zambian farmers and today we are here because Alex decided this was where we needed to be dropped! What legends! Love to Doug, Alex and the entire Holding Family! #hitched #hitchedseries #travel #adventure #Africa #hitchhiking #backpacking #hollywood #discovery #film #tvseries #newseries #picoftheday #documentary #photooftheday #wanderlust #beautiful #travelgram #wanderlust #instatravel #worldtravel #travelingram #traveladdict #photography #Ellen #theellenshow @theellenshow #ellentube #ellendegeneres #capetocairo #HeyEllen

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The team also relived some unfortunate encounters. “We were sleeping in the park one evening. We woke up to a guy unzipping our bags, but thankfully he did not steal anything.

“We had some close calls in Africa with overloaded cars and people driving like maniacs, but there have been no accidents,” he says. 

 MacDonald says they travelled to Sudan just two weeks after the massacre. 

“A lot of people were telling us not to go there and thought it was unsafe. Being in Sudan taught us valuable lessons. 

“People were so kind to us, and it was one of those moments you really feel the depth of human goodness. In their hardship, people were so welcoming and so generous. We never experienced hospitality on that level,” says MacDonald. 

After their journey, they are hoping to get some downtime with a holiday. “Somewhere with waves to do some surfing,” MacDonald says before the trio has to disconnect and look for another ride. 

Next stop: Ellen’s studio!