One man’s dream

2007-11-27 00:00

Only one man has canoed the three major tributaries of the Amazon River and that man lives in Pietermaritzburg. Tim Biggs, who grew up in Ixopo, practised as a geotechnical engineer before turning to farming. His paddling career includes many international canoeing expeditions and he has represented South Africa nationally in long-distance canoeing. Now he has written a book about his

Amazon achievements, which will be launched tonight.

Biggs writes: “The Three Rivers is the story of my experiences navigating the three major tributaries of the Amazon. The quest to discover the sources of each of these rivers and then follow them down to the ocean began for me in 1981.

“My friend, Francois Odendaal and I planned our first exploration of the Urubama River, setting out with an international team of adventurers to canoe the 1 800 kilometre tributary of the Amazon. The three-month expedition was a great success and spurred us on to discover new rivers in the wild Andes mountains and around the world.

“In 1985 we launched another team to follow the Apurimac River (the true source of the Amazon) from its source to the Atlantic. This was the first time the full length of the Amazon had been run and the adventure was a thriller, highlighted by near-death experiences, mutiny among the team and capture by Marxist guerillas .

“In 2003, almost 22 years after completing the Urubamba, an opportunity arose to fulfil my dream to navigate all three rivers of the Amazon. Together with a team of three 22-year-olds, I celebrated my 50th birthday by canoeing the Maranon River. The dynamics of the trip had now changed for me, as, instead of being out in the front, I was now the weakest of the team, often battling to survive.

“The book is a full-colour, coffee-table sized book which contains details of my childhood on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal and ‘my first taste of running rivers’. During the 25-year period of adventuring that followed, I realised how similar travelling down a long river is to ‘the river of life’ through which we all journey. In a chapter I called The New River, I share my testimony and how my life philosophy and my view of God changed radically after discovering Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.”

Alick Rennie, past president of the South African Canoe Federation, describes the book as “a fantastic tale of adventure, goal setting and achievement in sport, exploration, expedition and, most importantly, life”.

“The issue of his spiritual experiences is told with such candid and frank honesty that although many may blanch at the spiritual challenge in life, one cannot but enjoy and respect the way that Biggs has faced up to his personal adventures in this field in the same way that he faces up to the challenges of the mighty Amazon, its tributaries and the companions he travelled with.”

• Three Rivers of the Amazon will be launched at the Natal Canoe Club at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg this evening. The function starts at 6.30 pm and the members of the public are welcome at attend.

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