Kayaking is an activity I find to be largely leisurely. I might once in a while push myself a little harder than usual while kayaking. I might even break a sweat. But I certainly don’t ever kayak down a waterfall. Perhaps I’d try it if I felt mostly safe, but what these guys are doing in the above video doesn’t strike me as remotely “safe” – although I’m sure they’re taking all kinds of precautions. It sure is fun to watch, though. This video is shot and edited well. I found it on the Eddie Bauer Vimeo page, which appears to have zero traffic, more or less. Despite the lack of promotion, this video is both informative and inspiring. Kudos to these kayakers – I envy their apparent disregard for death.
South African river guide Hendrik Coetzee is missing, and presumed dead, after he was attacked by a crocodile while paddling a remote river in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday. The experienced guide, who has led expeditions all across Africa, was taking a team of kayakers down the Lukuga River at the time.
Coetzee, along with American paddlers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic, has been exploring the river as part of an expedition sponsored by First Ascent, a gear company that is owned by Eddie Bauer. They have been paddling rivers near Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, while spreading the word about the lack of clean water across the continent. The team had been making dispatches to the First Ascent blog along the way, and that is where news first broke about this tragic event.
While the exact details of the events are a bit hazy, it seems that the three men were paddling the Lukuga when a large crocodile sprang up from the water and pulled Coetzee from his kayak. His two companions witnessed the attack, but saw no sign of their guide afterwards. They immediately paddled to shore and called for help from the International Rescue Committee, who quickly dispatched a team to retreive them, and search for Coetzee. That search turned up no trace of the South African.
This story is a sobering reminder of just how dangerous some of the places we travel to can be. Reading it reminded me of a trip to Africa that I took a few years back, during which our guide warned us not to get to close to the river, which was crawling with hippos at the time. My companions and I nodded and acknowledged the large beasts, which are recognized as one of the most dangerous in Africa. Our guide simply smiled and told us it wasn’t the hippos we had to watch out for, but the crocs which lay just below the surface, waiting for us to stray too close. Needless to say, we gave the shoreline a wide berth from then on.
[Photo credit: Sarah Mccans via WikiMedia]
A 45-year old German woman named Freya Hoffmeister completed an eleven month odyssey on Tuesday as she paddled into the harbor at Queenscliff, Australia, finishing a successful circumnavigation of that continent by kayak. In the process, she became just the second person to complete that journey, and the first woman, while setting a new speed record as well.
Freya set out from Queenscliff, paddling counter-clockwise around the continent, last January, and returned to that point 332 days later. Of those 332 days, 245 were spent in the cockpit of her kayak, covering more than 9400 miles. Perhaps the most difficult and treacherous part of the expedition was when she paddled across the Gulf of Carpentaria, along the northern coast of Australia. That bold move shaved 680 miles off of the journey, but to achieve the crossing, Freya has to spend nearly eight days in her kayak, going so far as to even sleep there. She is just the second person to make that crossing by kayak as well.
This isn’t Freya’s first major kayak expedition, although it is by far her longest to date. Back in 2007 she spent 33 days circumnavigating Iceland, and then later kayaked around New Zealand’s South Island in 70 days, achieving a new speed record on that adventure too.
The only other person to successfully circumnavigate Australia by kayak was Paul Caffyn, a New Zealander who made the journey 27 years ago. Caffyn took 360 days on his journey, and Freya bested him by nearly a month. Upon reaching the finish line, the German kayaker said, “I promise, if anyone will paddle around Australia within the next 27 years, I’ll be at the finish line.”%Gallery-7921%