Ash Dykes Reaches Halfway Point in #MissionYangtze

UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has reached the halfway point of his massive mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. Despite everything that has been thrown at him, Ash has continued to make excellent progress and has already completed half of his third world-first and biggest mission to date.
Ash has walked 2000 miles along the river to reach this huge milestone, and along the way has faced all kinds of life-threatening dangers (landslides, bears and being tracked by a pack of wolves) as well as being held up 5 times by police/government officials.

Death-defying extreme athlete Ash Dykes reached safety at the halfway point of his mammoth world first expedition 9th January 2019, having faced immense threats to his safety whilst attempting to walk the entire length of China’s Yangtze River in just a year.

Having set off on 26th August 2018, Ash has battled the elements and overcome many obstacles to get to where he is now. There have been several times where Ash has feared for his life but has relied on his intense training regimes and wild instincts to get him through a tough first half of the expedition. Despite many tough moments, he has always had the confidence and reassurance to trust his to deliver clean, safe drinking water to keep him hydrated through his mission.

Attempting to complete this expedition and even getting to where he is now is no mean is no mean feat. The Yangtze is the longest river to flow through a single nation and stretches almost 4000 miles from west to east China, through eleven provinces, diverse ecosystems and multiple major cities including Chongqing and Shanghai.

It has taken Ash 136 days and 2000 miles of intense trekking across some of the world’s most dangerous and remote provinces to reach the halfway point in the small Chinese city of Panzhihua, having set off from the Yangtze River’s true, scientific source in the Tibetan Plateau on 26th August last year.

In one of the few remaining ‘firsts’ to be attempted by man, Ash and his team have faced huge challenges on this first half of the expedition, with eight out of nine of Ash’s teammates dropping out mid-mission due to injury, illness or fears for their safety.

The mission got off to a difficult start when Ash’s Tibetan guide suffered the serious effects of altitude sickness on the way to the source of the river and required urgent medical attention, delaying the expedition’s start date. Since then, bears travelling down the mountain to find food before hibernation have posed the greatest threat to Ash’s life; closely followed by wolves. Ash was tracked by a pack of wolves for two days straight not long after the trek began, and has faced the very real threat of aggressive wild yaks, cobras, and giant hornets along the way.

Other natural elements have also made this challenge particularly immense, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius, snow blizzards, glacial river crossings, and landslides pushing Ash to his limit and, at times, forcing him to detour and lose precious days.

Although the most remote, dangerous and uncertain leg of the expedition is now behind Ash, the remainder of the trek will pose threats of different kinds. Rather than bears, wolves and wilderness, Ash will encounter heavily populated cities and some of the most polluted areas of any river in the world. The hot, rainy season means the river is more likely to flood, and as the river widens so do its tributaries, meaning crossings will be more difficult and could lead to further detours and delays.

Despite this, Ash remains positive. He said:

“Without a doubt, Mission Yangtze has been the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken to date.  Physically I was as prepared as I could be, but mentally it’s hard to get ready for the harsh and remote landscapes, sub zero temperatures, and the difficulties these bring. I have trekked through some of the most breathtaking and unspoilt parts of the world, but I’ve never felt so vulnerable to the elements and predators as I have done over the past few months.”

Ash Dykes

“China is an unbelievably diverse country, with each province I’ve crossed bringing unique terrains, climates, wildlife and challenges. I was actually stopped on five occasions by the police, as government officials worried for my security and safety. Despite having to retrace 40 miles worth of the trek after being detained, we managed to push on with the backing of the Qinghai Government and CBCGDF, and really appreciate their concern.”

“Despite the challenges, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown by the people I’ve encountered so far. I always say that the locals make or break an adventure, and so far the Chinese have been amazing. It’s been hugely rewarding living and integrating with locals, meeting schools and families, and learning about their lives and traditions.”

“The Yangtze has also been incredibly clean so far, as the Tibetan people will not so much as fish out of the river, let alone throw rubbish in it. I know the second half will be far more polluted, but it’s a common misconception that the entire Yangtze River is being destroyed by the effects of industrialisation. I’m really interested to see how China’s wild west compares with its more industrial and densely populated eastern region.”

Ash Dykes

“The expedition hasn’t been straightforward but it’s been an incredible experience so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing and learning even more about this amazing country as I enter into the second half of the mission. Bring it on!”

We are delighted to hear that Ash has already completed half of his most ambitious expedition to date and is continuing to make excellent progress. We can’t wait to hear what happens on the rest of his mission and look forward to providing updates throughout. Make sure you keep up to date from Ash himself on his social media channels and pinpoint where he is along the Yangtze on his live tracker.

2,500 plastic bottles pulled out of the Thames in 1 DAY

We’re always trying to highlight the devastating impact that single-use plastics have on our planet.

It’s easy for it to go over our heads when we hear overwhelming stats and figures about the issue on a larger scale, but it’s only when we look closer to home that we start realising the horrifying reality.

Recently litter pickers in London found 2,500 plastic bottles in just ONE DAY on the Thames. Just one day!

Volunteers from London based charity, Thames 21, collected the huge amount of rubbish from 11 different sites on the river. The event has given an eye-opening indication on how many plastic bottles are in the Thames at a particular time. The charity plans to repeat the study 4 times a year which will help determine how long it takes to build up and what times of year it’s at its worse.

The charity decided to use the ‘cleaner’ river as a test to see how quickly new bottles were junked. Monitoring the sites for 8 days after the litter pick yielded some interesting results. On just one of the eleven sites, they recorded 10 bottles wash up on the Friday and a staggering 117 bottles on the Saturday! (Site: Battersea). These figures show how consistently plastic bottles polluting our rivers and ultimately (if it wasn’t for the amazing work of charities like Thames 21) our oceans.

AJ McConville, who conducted the study has said:

“It’s sad that mineral water is the most common plastic bottle we’re finding, when bottled water is no better for us than water from the tap.”

 “We urge Londoners– use reusable water bottles, and demand more water fountains around the capital.”

Each filter in one Water-to-Go bottle can treat 200 litres of water anywhere in the world. That’s 400 single-use plastic water bottles. That means just 6 of Water-to-Go filters would be equivalent to nearly the same amount of plastic bottles that were pulled out of the Thames in just one day (6 filters = 2,400 50cl water bottles).

‘Deposit Return Systems’ (DRS) have been suggested as a good way of encouraging those who do use plastic bottles to recycle. DRS is where a tax is added to plastic bottles and can be redeemed when returned. Such systems are used across Europe, America and Canada. The idea to introduce a similar scheme in the England has recently been rejected by the Government. 

The recent levy on plastic bags has seen a dramatic 80% reduction.

 

 

 

 

1,800 Miles by Stand Up Paddle Board for Water Aid

On the 1st March 2016 Kate Davis and Andy Bartlett will leave London and head to the Black Forest of Germany to start their attempt at becoming the first people to stand-up paddleboard the entire length of the Danube River. From the source of the river in the small German town of Donaueschingen, they will then travel over 1800 miles, passing through 10 countries and 4 capital cities before reaching the rivers end at the Black Sea on the border of Romania and Ukraine. Carrying all their supplies with them on their boards (including a Water-to-Go bottle each) the trip is expected to take 3 months covering an average of 25 miles a day.

Both Kate and Andy have left their respective jobs and homes to take on this adventure and have never attempted anything of this scale or challenge before. The trip is fully self-funded and will be unsupported once they start paddling relying on their own skills and the kindness of those they meet along the way.

They will be raising money for Water Aid in the process.

Kate, a 30 year old former Internal Communications Officer for VSO says, “this is not a race for us and we are keen to ensure we take in all the river has to offer and especially connect with the locals who live along the rivers path, to find out how it impacts their daily lives.”

Andy, a Former Director of an event management company says,”Huge thanks to Water-to-Go for supplying us with bottles for the upcoming ‘SUP The Danube’. We’re never going to be short of water and having their amazing bottles and filters means it will all be safe to drink.

A brilliant and simple solution to getting clean water and yet a huge reminder of why we’re raising money for Water Aid. Clean safe water is something we take for granted even when heading out on an incredible adventure and yet is still not accessible to millions of people around the world. Take a moment to look at the work Water Aid are engaged in and find out how you can get involved”

The adventure will take the pair into 10 Countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and pass through 4 Capital cities (Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade).

Follow their SUP adventure: www.supthedanube.com

Photo Credit: www.tanyaraab.uk

Cycling from London 2 Cape Town

Our water bottles are no strangers to adventure travel. We’ve been taken pretty much everywhere in the world; used for all sorts of amazing journeys and expeditions far and wide.

One such adventure is a journey filled with courage, determination and strong cycling legs. Adventurers Emily Conrad-Pickles and James Davis are half way through an incredible 20,000km cycle from London 2 Cape Town.

Their route will take them through 3 continents, 27 countries and they aim to do it all in 12 months. The duo will be battling temperatures of up to 55°C in the Sahara Desert; conquering 10,000ft of mountain passes in Ethiopia all whilst raising £50,000 for the World Bicycle Relief.

The World Bicycle Relief empowers people across Africa by donating bikes. They believe in mobilising people through the power of bicycles so that distance no longer prevents access to healthcare, education and economic activity. So far they have provided over 200,000 bikes to people in a number of African countries.

We caught up with James to find out how they were finding they were getting on:

“We’re only 4 months in to our yearlong expedition to cycle from London to Cape Town and we’ve already learnt that our Water-to-Go filtered water bottles are one of the most important pieces of kit we have with us.

Admittedly, we were a little nervous the first time we filled the bottles from a more ‘suspect’ water source. But, ever since, we’ve topped up from loads of places where we would never considered drinking from before – including taps in the street, cattle drinking troughs, a leaking water pipe in the desert and even straight from the river Danube – close to where we later found a dead frog floating in the water.

Even at visitor attractions we’ve scoffed at tourists who’re forced to pay for overpriced bottled water whilst we’ve topped our Water-to-Go bottles from the taps in the loos. The bottles themselves are tough and sturdy and the recently improved design of the filter makes drinking on the go even easier.

As we leave Egypt to continue south into rural Africa we have confidence that our Water-to-Go filtered water bottles will safely filter even the most questionable of water sources keeping us hydrated on our quest to cycle from London to Cape Town.”

You can follow the journey and donate to this wonderful charity at www.london2capetown.org

Adventurers kayak the length of the Amazon

Between June and October 2015 Adventure Athlete Tarran Kent-Hume and teammate Olie Hunter Smart travelled the length of the Amazon River, 6,800km’s (4,300 Miles).

Beginning this expedition at the Mantaro River which turns into the Amazon River. This is the furthest and most distant source of the Amazon River.

They travelled 4,300 miles in under 5 months, beginning in the Andes of Peru hiking over the peaks and valleys sitting some 4,500 meters above sea level. They experience hot days and freezing nights with the temperature rising to over 44 degrees and dropping to a chilly minus 4 in the night.

ball-gowns-promEn route they passed through the most dangerous part of South America called the RED ZONE, where over 70% of the worlds cocaine production comes from. This meant being confronted on the river with shotguns being pointed at them. Being able to interact with some of the native tribes including the Ashkaninka tribe. Being shot at by pirates and dealing with the constant threat of robbery as well as some scary 15ft waves as they approached the Atlantic Ocean.

As they passed through some dangerous areas on the river the Peruvian and Brazilian Navy and Marines would at times follow them in gunboats for safety. Sleeping on Sandbanks and in small communities they encountered all types of Amazonian animals including a close encounter with some crocodiles.

Tarran said, “ This is scary and very real, but what an incredible experience”.

For all the danger, they we’re taken in by the people of the river and encountered much kindness and friendliness as the river passed through Peru, Columbia and Brazil.

Travelling some 80km and 10 hours per day, the river went from a close small stream with the jungle in Peru to the huge Amazon expanse in Brazil where there is not a dot of land in sight, using GPS and maps as a guide.

The pair held Google Hangouts with classrooms from around the world talking about their challenges and experiences on the river with an aim to inspire many of their young followers to embrace life and follow their passion.

GOPR2625Tarran & Ollie were both armed with Water-to-Go water bottles to ensure safe drinking water throughout the expedition.

“In planning for my Amazon Expedition I knew getting access to clean drinking water was going to be a headache until I met Water-to-Go and this was just what I was looking for”, Tarran explains.

“The Waters along the Amazon River and tributary the Mantaro River are not clean enough to drink and with space and weight being a major concern, carrying a large pump style water filter seemed excessive. The water to go bottles are simple and easy to use. Kayaking along I’d simply dip the bottle into the water and start drinking, so simple. The fact that they not only have a great product but have an environmentally conscious outlook that helps to reduce the amount of plastic we use fits great with my personal values.”

The last 22 hours was spent in the kayak as they pushed to finish at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at midnight and kayaking through the night, tying their kayaks to a mangrove tree for hours whilst they waited for the tide to turn, battling huge waves and string winds they eventually made it to the Atlantic on October 29th 2015. In the process Tarran Kent-Hume became the first Australian to travel the length of the Amazon River from its furthest and most distant source.