Just finished Canoecopia. It was great to see so many dear friends including crews from the Arctic, Boundary Waters, and the Rio Grande. Nothing seems to bond people like a canoe expedition. It’s more than the adventure; maybe it’s the vulnerability or the shared toil. I cannot explain it, but I am blessed with so many wonderful friends and I loved seeing them even if I was strung-out from the 1500 mile drive in two days from the Rio Grande.

Several people asked me hopefully if I would be guiding Zambezi River trips next year. I have been mum on the blog about my Zambezi experience and for good reasons. Is the Zambezi incredible? Absolutely. A huge flow, drops like I have never before experienced, crocs slithering into the river like a Tarzan movie, African river guides that I quickly grew to love. But, I think it’s one and done for me.

When I lead a trip, I like to be reasonably certain that I can get my crew down safely. Too many, “What ifs?” for me on the Zambezi. Biggest what if? My experience pushing rubber is limited. A long run on the Zambezi is not for canoes; it’s a rafting river. Even in a raft, this is a river you will swim, regardless of the guide. Swimming in the Zambezi is tantamount to wrestling with a grizzly bear. Very steep drops throw you into somersaults, the airiated water makes for flailing arms and prolonged submersions. Everything happens so fast that by the time you surface gasping for air, there is not even enough time to worry about the crocodiles and hippos. I know I could hire talented guides for the oars, but I just don’t have the rafting experience to be confident leading a group and relying on others to be the pilots.

Then there is the Zimbabwe economy. Hard times with runaway inflation and bad international credit means unreliable sources of provisions and reliable gear. I had a great time on the Zambezi and if you want to call me and ask for specific recommendations I am good with that, but I personally will not be leading river trips down that river of carnage.

Other Africa trips? Thinking about leading a birding trip in Kruger or maybe a guided Serengeti photo safari, but those are on the back burner until I get the Merlyn Project in print and in the hands of thousands.

Rob Kesselring

Zambezi Day 1

My Crew

Portage Zambezi Style

We Ran This

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