Thursday, October 28, 2010


Murchison section
And so another page in my relationship with an extra ordinary place is written. Every journey has had its own cast of characters and individual flavor. Some have had more close encounters than others, some more humor but in the end they have all been overshadowed by the place itself. 
Perhaps it is coincidence that I should have my first flawless run now that I do not look on it as a challenge that needs to be overcome but as a place that I love being in. A more likely explanation is that I have found a route through the 80km's that minimize the risk and that I have begun to know the location of the territorial hippos and the best way to react to crocodile encounters. It is tempting to believe that it is the great white explorer’s skills that brought me through another run, but next time before I put in I will realize again that it is not.
There are many moment that stand out from the past 2 days, but perhaps the most striking is looking back upstream at a stairway of whitewater stretching over a kilometer long, descending in giant steps seemingly from to the sky. For the first time in 6 years I thought, maybe one day we will come down the middle. Murchison is a place where my generation's skills and mindset are not up for the challenge, but if this section survives for another 15 years it could become the place where the next generation of kayaker come to test superior skills.
Perhaps there will be someone who will also fall in love with this place, someone who will consider tying his paddle to his hands, strapping himself to his boat, sowing in his spray deck and fitting an aqua lung. His Jet Ski rescue team will foul up the natural serenity and I will grumble about the chopper filming him but it will be worth every tetsy fly bite and infinitely more to watch someone ride one of the giants from top to bottom.
Much more likely, Murchison will merely fade away under the pressures of a 3de world economy and its need for power and oil. It will become legend and its experience the domain of the few petty humans who were willing to risk a bit more to experience one of the world’s great natural cathedrals. Oil has been found in the park and a new lodge has been built, Murchison is far from spoilt but the tide is turning for one of the last bastions of truly wild Africa, I will not complain about it much, I would rather focus on the positive, I have a class 5 local run, with more channels than I can run in  a lifetime, where you can stop in the eddy and watch a herd of elephant washing as a pod of hippos play fight. What could there possible be to complain about. 


  1. Hendri, Thank you for guiding the First Ascent team of kayakers. You are an excellent writer. Your passion and knowledge and ability to communicate it gives this armchair explorer some comfort and a sense of what you and the team are experiencing. I wish you good fortune on the remainder of the expedition and look forward to further posts. Paul Korbulic

  2. Dear Hendri, I would like to whish you good luck on the biggest river you ever met in your life. Wherever you are paddling, be sure that we are with you whereever you have dared to go - we greet you and wish you luck on all your continuing adventures. but once in a while, please, let us know that you are happy. Love