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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
25% of the profits from sales will be donated to help continue The HALO Trust’s vital de-mining work in Angola.
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!