Water-to-Go used on medical trip in Rwanda

A quick introduction – my name is Rob Daniels, I am a GP in East Devon and also work as an Ear Nose and Throat physician. I have a long involvement in rural and remote medicine, and as well as being an expedition doctor for a specialist trekking company, am an academic tutor on the Exeter University MSc program in Extreme Medicine. I am passionate about supporting healthcare workers in resource-poor environments, and in November 2015 I spent 2 weeks in Rwanda doing a pilot study of a system to allow doctors and nurses in rural areas to get expert advice on ear disease, using a digital camera and mobile internet.

 

This was very successful and I returned to Rwanda on 27th October 2017 to install the equipment in a small clinic in the western province of Rwanda, close to Lake Kivu. It was important that we stayed healthy and well-hydrated in this under-developed area so we wanted to find a product that we could trust.
The second part of the trip involved a sponsored cycle ride on the Congo Nile bike trail to raise money for pulmonary fibrosis. This is a 240km trail through the bush, that was opened 5 years ago to try and bring sustainable ecotourism to the area. My daughter accompanied me on this trip, to carry out a research study into the impact of the trail on livelihoods and living conditions of women and children along the route.
We spent 5 days cycling and kayaking between remote villages on the shores of Lake Kivu. Cycling 40+ km a day, with around 1000m of climbing most days, with a starting altitude of 1400m above sea level just below the equator, we knew we would need to drink a lot of water every day. Equally important was weight, as we would be carrying everything with us.
Having used a variety of water purification options, from ceramic stirrup pump filters to tablets and even liquid iodine, I was keen to find a simpler but still effective solution. Having seen them at a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society, the Water-to-Go bottles looked too good to be true – they were cost-effective, portable, light and with easy suction.

My only concern was that the larger bottles might not fit in a standard mountain bike bottle cage, so bought an Alpkit stemcell to hold the bottles. The bottles worked better than I could have predicted, proving really easy to use one-handed while on the road, and easy to fill and clean. The water tasted fine, without any chemical odour and they also did fit the bottle cages after all. I also found them really good kayaking on a freshwater lake, where it was great to be able to scoop up some lake water mid-paddle.

I would definitely recommend this product for multi-day trekking, bike packing or kayaking trips, and with replacement filters available, they are really cost effective.

Guest blog post written by Dr. Rob Daniels FRGS

Water-to-Go sponsors Kwanza Kayak Journey

My name is Oscar Scafidi and I am a History teacher, travel writer and political risk consultant for Lusophone Africa. I currently live and work in Antananarivo, Madagascar, but between 2009 and 2014 I lived in Luanda, Angola.

 

My name is Oscar Scafidi and I am a History teacher, travel writer and political risk consultant for Lusophone Africa

In July 2016, together with my expedition partner Alfy Weston, we kayaked the length of Angola’s Kwanza River, from source to sea.

We used a 40-year-old foldable wooden kayak (called a Klepper) that we paddled and carried along the 1,300km journey. This trip retraced some of the steps of sixteenth-century English explorer Andrew Battel and recorded information on wildlife and human activity along the remote stretches of the river. So far we have raised over USD 25,000 for The HALO Trust, an organization specializing in the removal of the debris of war, such as landmines. Our journey is currently being reviewed by Guinness World Records.

 

Together with my expedition partner Alfy Weston, we kayaked the length of Angola’s Kwanza River, from source to sea
The journey was all Alfy’s idea. He had kayaked a shorter section of the lower Kwanza River a few years prior with two of his brothers. We decided that if we were going to tackle the whole thing, it was important to raise money for a worthwhile cause. Having lived in Angola for years, both of us knew the terrible toll landmines and unexploded ordnance have on rural Angolan communities. Angola was the scene of a brutal civil war between 1975 and 2002, and it will take organisations like The HALO Trust and MAG years to clean up all the remaining minefields.
I had to make do with training on the River Thames in London

We spent nine months planning the route, collecting gear and training for the expedition. Alfy got to do his training in Angola, as he was still there for work, whereas as I had to make do with training on the River Thames in London!

We had to drag the Klepper and all of our gear (over 110kg) around 55km from the source of the river to a point deep enough for us to start paddling
It was not an easy journey. We had to drag the Klepper and all of our gear (over 110kg) around 55km from the source of the river to a point deep enough for us to start paddling. For the next month, we faced various obstacles including aggressive hippos, rapids and some very obstructive security officials who arrested us for spying! Packing up all our gear into a load that we could both carry (and fit into the kayak) was difficult. It was clear from the planning stages that we were not going to be able to carry much water, and that we needed to rely on a purification system.

 

We used Water-to-Go bottles to drink directly from the river. We also filled up confidently at a few random fishing villages during hiking sections of the expedition. We found the Water-to-Go bottles much more reliable than the other water filtration systems we had with us, and had no gastrointestinal issues for the whole 33 day expedition. Staying healthy and hydrated was crucial when trying to kayak 70km+ per day. We are thankful to the Water-to-Go team for such a useful invention. The bottles helped us to successfully complete the expedition, raising USD 25,000 for The HALO Trust’s vital mine clearance work in Angola. 

 

We used Water-to-Go bottles to drink directly from the river
We have now published a book about our adventure, which can be purchased here: https://unbound.com/books/kayak-the-kwanza/ 
25% of the profits from sales will be donated to help continue The HALO Trust’s vital de-mining work in Angola. 

 

Oscar and Alfy along with their support team
Guest blog post by Oscar Scafidi

 

Water-to-Go is pleased to have helped Oscar and Alfy stay healthy and hydrated every step of the way on their journey along the Kwanza River. Their book is a symbol of their hard work and dedication to this project. They can now finally tell everyone about their awesome adventure and we would definitely recommend purchasing the book, not only to support the boys but also to support the Halo Trust.

 

We can’t wait to see what is next in store for the boys so watch this space!