Explorers Connect

Phil Harwood canoes the Congo from source to sea

CommunityJames Hipkiss

Highlighted as last weeks top adventure travel story in the Guardian online, Phil Harwoods 2008 3000-mile, source to sea descent of the Congo river remains an inspiration to explorers throughout the world.

Taking over five months in a 15 foot Mad River Explorer open canoe, the journey took Harwood along the deepest river in the world from its true source in north-east Zambia to its Atlantic delta. I experienced swamps, waterfalls, rapids and endemic corruption, said Harwood according to his own Canoeing the Congo website. Arrested, chased, collapsing from malaria with numerous death threats I also encountered tremendous hospitality and kindness from a proud and brave people long forgotten by the western world. An ex-Royal Marine Commando Harwood now teaches outdoor skills for a living and claims to have had the idea for his trip while driving a landrover from London to Capetown. Without a doubt the best part of the trip was driving through Zaire as it was known back then, terrible roads, great people despite mind-boggling hardship and serious rainforest. I laid eyes on the Congo River and the idea popped into my head to one day paddle it from source to sea, he said in an interview with Pinch magazine.

Harwoods journey was funded by a travelling fellowship and grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Upon his return he was awarded both a WCMT medal by the Duchess of Cornwall and the Mike Jones Canoeing Award. In addition to winning a position as top story with The Guardian and Pinch, Harwoods trip was recently featured in Canoe Focus magazine and The Daily Telegraph.

Interested readers might also like to read his book, Canoeing the Congo. Exploration news and features by Sarah M Lawton: www.for-content.com