Adventurer of the Year does it again

2011-01-26 00:00

SEARCHING for a suitable encore to his epic bicycle trip around the perimeter of Africa (the subject of his previous book, Around Africa on my Bicycle), South African solo-adventurer Riaan Manser decided he wanted to be the first person to paddle alone around Madagascar in a kayak — a journey of some 5 000 kilometres, which took almost a year to complete.

As he was to discover, it was not a trip to be undertaken lightly and in many ways it was to prove far more challenging, both physically and mentally, than his previous feat of endurance (which earned him the title of Adventurer of the Year 2006).

Buffeted by huge waves and lashed by storms which frequently knocked him off course, he was forced to spend long, lonely hours paddling under a ferocious sun with no other company but the occasional pod of whales, some giant leatherback turtles and the odd seagull.

Along the way he was variously robbed, mugged, chased by pirates, attacked by a huge shark and thrown into jail (twice) on suspicion of being a South African mercenary (his trip happened to coincide with the attempted coup in Madagascar when political tensions were running high).

His trials would have deterred many lesser mortals but Manser is obviously not one to wilt in the face of a challenge and to compensate for his suffering there were, of course, moments of unalloyed beauty and magic — which he describes with warmth and feeling — and he was also able to experience, at first hand, the basic kindness and decency of the ordinary Malagasy people.

Writing in a plain, chatty style, Manser has used his travels to produce a vivid series of chapters and vignettes.

Mixing his own kind of unreserved joyfulness about the natural world, which he got to explore in all its variety, with some rueful conclusions about the swollen-headed self-importance of petty officialdom, he has the ability to draw readers into his experiences with his evocative descriptions and wry sense of humour.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.