Water Travel, Like a Local

I’ve just returned from a great trip, packrafting down about 250km of remote rivers in Nicaragua.

Packrafting is relatively new to me, but so far I love it. Because the raft is so compact, I could carry it in my backpack together with food and gear for 10 days out.

Packrafting Rio Bocay in Nicaragua
Packrafting Rio Bocay in Nicaragua

The rafting trip had fun, adventure, challenge, white-water, wild-camping and a chance to see how the local indigenous Mayangna and Miskito people live.

I have only one other water trip I can compare it with, and that is paddling down the Niger River in West Africa. For that trip, we had a local fisherman build us a pirogue, just like those the locals use. If I had had a packraft with me, I probably would have used that. But I’m glad I didn’t.

Paddling a pirogue was physically much more challenging and we encountered difficulties navigating downstream which wouldn’t have been a problem in a packraft.

But the pirogue let us experience the river as the locals do. And it brought us closer to those we met.

Paddling a Pirogue on the Niger River
Paddling a Pirogue on the Niger River

In Nicaragua, I felt we were viewed as a passing novelty; rich tourists with hi-tech products. On the Niger river, we were just two more people heading downstream.

Both ways of river travel were great. And I’m pretty sure i’ll be doing more trips in both styles…

Since i’ll be back in the UK for the rest of the year, the packraft will be seeing plenty of action in the coming months. Pirogues aren’t so common on British waterways…. Narrowboat barges though, now there’s an idea!

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Farnham round walk or off road cycle – take your pick!

The Museum FarnhamThis weeks #walkwednesday route is one we have created in Farnham, Dorset and is either a challenging 13.5 miles of walking, or a quick hour and a half on the Mountain bike – whichever you prefer. Set in an Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Cranbourne Chase, this is a walk or ride that takes in downs, ancient deer parks before delivering you back to a pub of course!

Parking starts at the Museum in Farnham (do make sure you stop in for a pint afterwards, it’s a cracker) and there’s a little bit of up and down to whet your appetite. You start off heading past Chettle Down where you can take a detour to look at an abandoned ancient settlement. View of Chettle Down from Dunspit LaneQuite a bit goes through Harbin’s Park which was once a Medieval deer park covering, more or less rectangular in shape and surrounded by a bank up to 16 feet (5 metres) wide and 5 feet (1.5 metres) high and a ditch over 15 feet (4.5 metres) wide. See if you can spot any of these features as you head around. You come back through Chettle which has been described as the perfect English Village before heading back to Farnham.

Chettle churchWe’ve put a map of the route up beloow, but if you’ve got Viewranger you can download this route for FREE on to your mobile and follow it around. Please note Walking or MTBing can be challenging activities, so do check out the weather and be honest about your level of fitness before setting off.

 

 


© CC The Museum Farnham by Bert 23 – Flickr 
© CC Chettle Church by jfarnhill Flickr
© CC Chettle Down by Toby

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Stats Update from Chiapas, Mexico

Time for a quick update on how the Take On The Americas trip is going, now that the journey has passed the 10,000km mark. I suppose the best way to do it is with a few numbers…

Distance cycled: 9222km
Distance sailed: 725km
Distance travelled on bus: 425km

Total nights: 165
Nights camping: 118
Nights in paid accommodation: 34

No. of cycling days: 122

Countries cycled: 3 (Canada, US, Mexico
US states: 6 (Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California)
Mexico states: 7

Lowest/Highest altitude: -226ft / 9600ft (-69m/2926m)
Most km in one day: 136km
Coldest night/hottest day: -11C/+30C* (12F/86F)

Bridges/roads slept under: 5
Firestations slept at: 1
No. of times disturbed by men with machetes/men with guns/mountain lions: 3

No. of times cautioned/warned by warden/police: 2

Brake cables replaced: 1
Bottom brackets replaced: 1
Tyres used: 5
Punctures: 22*

Bears/coyotes seen: 6 / 3
Sealions/sharks seen: 1 / 1
Whales seen: 31*
Tarantulas seen: 3

No of times fallen off bike: 0(me), 1(Lars)

No of burgers eaten by Lars: lost count
No. of Thai red curries eaten: 6
No. of tortillas eaten: 173*

No. of lucid dreams: 5

No. of beers: 182
No. of glasses of wine: 31

Average distance cycled: 75.5km/day (not including rest days)
Average distance cycled inc. rest days: 55.9km

Average km/beer: 50.7km/beer (compared to Take On Africa trip of 24.5km/beer!)

If you want to read more about the trip, best go to my blog.

(Photo courtesy of Lars Bengtsson)

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