Last year Chaz Powell walked further along the Zambezi river in one journey than anyone else in recorded history. He will be returning to Zambia in March 2017 to finish the final stretch. Until then he will be undertaking mini adventures in the UK and abroad to raise more funds for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. If you'd like to join him on one of the mini adventures, contact him through his website. Details are at the end of the post.
In 2016 I took up the biggest challenge of my life and walked from the source of Africa's wildest river, the mighty Zambezi, through Zambia all the way to the Mozambique border. At this point, I was forced to end my epic walk due to security issues in Mozambique.
Yet it was still what I would describe as an epic journey! I walked more than 2000 km over 97 days in blistering temperatures that reached 50°C some days. The remote, inhospitable areas I encountered are not usually visited by westerners, so most people I met were nomadic tribes who were at first very suspicious and wary of my presence. However after tense explanations they treated me as their guest with great kindness and hospitality, offering me food and a place to stay.
I often walked for up to 12 hours in a day, covering as much as 50km. At night I slept in villages or camped near the Zambezi. The river runs through some of the remotest and wildest places on the planet, the kind of environments I was really not accustomed to. I was accused of witchcraft, diamond smuggling, being a ghost, being Jesus Christ and even a reincarnation of the great Scottish explorer Livingstone!
I crossed the Barotse floodplains where I waded waste-deep through a maze of swamps. I walked through the deep sided Zambezi gorges without seeing people for days on end; I almost lost my life when I moved away from the river and became seriously lost and dehydrated.
But eventually – between 10th August - November 17th 2016 - I reached Mozambique, which means I have walked further along the Zambezi river in one journey than anyone else in recorded history.
I wanted to undertake a wild journey in a wild place, and explore parts of the world that few westerners venture into, to discover how people are living in these remote areas. Also taking on this challenge is enabling me to raise awareness about the devastating loss of wildlife that is happening along the Zambezi and throughout the rest of the world due to poaching. I hope to find a way to work with local people to help protect the wildlife that remains.
I enjoyed spending time with villagers, whose hospitality and humbleness frequently overwhelmed me. I loved visiting local schools and seeing their shocked and excited expressions when I recounted the tales of my adventures along the Zambezi. Talking with them made me feel a huge sense of purpose, helped me fully embrace the incredible and unique journey and gave me the motivation to continue when I was mentally and physically stretched to my limits.
Top three lessons learned
To be patient and respect how different people live and their traditions.
To live without the need for modern comforts and to appreciate the little and special things in life.
That I have a lot of self belief and determination, and that a human being can do anything they truly put their mind to.
My expedition was self-funded. To date I have raised £1000 for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which is working towards fighting the war against poachers, setting up and establishing more nature reserves for wildlife and educating young people about the importance of protecting wildlife for future generations.
Plans for this year
In March I fly back to Zambia and pick up my Zambezi walk where I was previously forced to finish. I will walk the final 600km to the Indian Ocean, where the challenge – to walk the length of the Zambezi river – will be completed.
Until I set off in July, I will continue to raise vital funds for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation by taking on mini challenges here in the UK and abroad. In February I fly to Romania for a few days to do some winter hiking in the Carpathian Mountains. I am also planning a source-to-sea trek along the River Thames, and am hoping to trek across the Cairngorms, a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland.
All donations warmly received!
To find out more:
Facebook: The Wildest Journey