South Africans join Nile team

2004-01-13 10:11

Johannesburg - Five men and a woman are set to undertake an historic expedition to navigate the full length of the Nile and draw attention to the people who live along the river.

Care, a humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty, has joined forces with them.

The team of whitewater rafters and African exploration experts will descend the White Nile from Lake Victoria in Uganda to the Mediterranean Sea, the first such attempt in more than 30 years.

The "Settle the Nile" expedition is expected to take five months.

The launch date is January 17 in Uganda. The rafters intend to set off from the Source of the Nile Gardens on the Njeru-Kampala side of the river.

The team consists of South Africans Hendri Coetzee, Pete Meredith and Bingo Small, Brits Jon Dahl and Thomas Leth Madsen, as well as New Zealander Natalie McComb.

The team members have lived and worked in East Africa for at least five years, but together they have 50 years of whitewater experience and African "know-how". They have walked, driven and paddled through most of the continent.

Hendri Coetzee is the team's whitewater expert. He learnt his trade on the big waters of the Zambezi and is an expert oar boat guide. Previous expeditions include the Omo river valley in Ethiopia and various other solo adventures and expeditions in Africa. His passion for Africa and its people, his medical qualifications and his survival skills learnt in the South African Special Forces will be much needed.

Pete Meredith was born in South Africa and is a "true child of the continent". He is an experienced whitewater rafter and one of the best big water oar boaters in the world.

It is, however, his cool head under pressure that is his true value to the expedition - a skill that has been tested in many difficult situations all over the continent.

Jon Dahl was also born and bred in Africa and has numerous expeditions to his name - the most notable being when he crossed Africa by waterways in an expedition that took a year.

He also has mechanical skills and knows how Africa operates.

Thomas Leth Madsen has Viking ancestry and he is the team's "get-it-done man". He is adventurous and a competent oar boater, but his true asset to the expedition lies in his enormous willpower and passion for the project.

Bingo Small brings the vital first-hand knowledge of some of the toughest white water any human has ever seen. He is legendary for the first descent of the Karuma to Murchison Falls section of the Nile river and has had years of experience guiding commercial rafting trips.

Natalie McComb was born in New Zealand and has been travelling and working in Africa for the past four years.

She has established an amazing network with the Sudanese security forces and without her political connections chances of crossing Sudan are slim. - Care

  • News24 will bring you updates and pictures on the expedition with the friendly co-operation of Care.

  • Care website.