Some of you may be aware that I set out a five weeks ago to try and kayak the length of the longest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. 

What started out as a desire to explore this fairly remote eastern shoreline of Lake Tanganyika, has turned into more than I could ever have imagined. I am pleased and relieved to let you know that after 25 paddling days, and a distance of approximately 750km, I have completed the lake from south to north.

As far as I'm aware, the full length has been completed by four men, so it is very possible that I am the fifth person and first woman to do so by non-motorised water transportation.

I started the journey with a fellow South African, Simon Dunshea, who paddled with me from the most southern most town, Mpulungu in Zambia, up to Kigoma in Tanzania. From Kigoma onward, I had the pleasure of paddling with Tanzanian guide, Gaspar Kazumbe, to the most northern point, Bujumbura in Burundi. 

I am fairly used to planning expeditions, but anyone who has joined me in this undertaking will attest to the fact that best laid plans almost always go awry and the true measure of a successful expedition is how one deals with shortcomings and finding alternate plans when all seems lost. 

This couldn’t have been more true on this journey, and just a week ago I was still being denied access into Burundi. Sometimes taking a small risk and seizing an unlikely opportunity makes all the difference and I honestly feel that the drawbacks and delays that I experienced over the course of the expedition triggered alternate plans which worked far better than initial arrangements. 

I have so many people to thank – people who have gone out of their way to ensure that I have the best possible chance of success, friends who have assisted with contacts, opened up their homes, encouraged me from near and far.

Thanks so much to Niall McCann and Jason Lewis for your guidance on long distance paddling expeditions, Lev Wood and Leon McCarron for essential satellite navigation and tracking equipment, Kingsley Holgate and Bruce Leslie for much needed encouragement and for crucial insight into Burundi in particular, and to Roy Watt and Brad Hansen for opening up their homes to me.

But the biggest thanks need to go to my parents, Margi & Barney Dillon (UK), Luke & Chloe Davey (Nairobi, Kenya), Louise & Chris Horsfall (Lake Shore Lodge, Tanzania) and Ingrid and Oddvar Jakobsen (Kigoma, Tanzania) who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to assist with logistics, contacts and so much more. They have invested their time and energy into making, what is largely a very selfish venture, possible and I can’t thank them enough.

For anyone who wishes to read more about the journey, I have a blog (www.london2cape.com), which I will update over the next few weeks. I will also be submitting a report to the Royal Geographical Society for their archives. Please let me know if you would like a copy of this report and I will be happy to forward it on to you.

I trust you all are well and hope to see some of you very soon back in London.

Onward in the quest for an adventurous life,

Shara

ACCOMMODATION SPONSORS

  • Lake Shore Lodge – Kipili, Tanzania
  • Nomads Greystoke – Mahale, Tanzania
  • Lupita Island – Kipili, Tanzania
  • Isanga Bay – Mpulungu, Zambia
  • Jakobsens Beach – Kigoma, Tanzania

EQUIPMENT SPONSORS

  • Palm Equipment Paddling Gear
  • Overboard Dry Bags 
  • Rail Riders Clothing
  • Osprey Backpacks
  • Tracks4Africa Navigation

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