900km of Zambezi rowing for Clean Water
Imagine rowing 900km down the Zambezi River in boats with three people each, rotating when possible, enjoying the wildlife and navigating through some treacherous waters. That is exactly what Row Zambezi did.
The expedition was successfully completed in early August after almost three weeks of rowing, navigating from Kafue National Park all the way to the Kafue Flats; 900 kilometres of the Kafue River. The team was a combination of elite and Olympic rowers from the Zambezi River Basin countries of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as rowers from South Africa, the United States and Great Britain.
Zimbabwean Olympic rower and Filippi Spirit Award winner, Micheen Thornycroft joined this year’s expedition. “The Kafue is such a beautiful river and was amazing to see how it changed over the kilometers that we rowed, from wide calm stretches, to shallow and rocky with rapids and hippos, to the flats where the banks were lined with papyrus and not much land in sight. We met so many locals along the way who were all so willing to helps us out in every way possible. The Zambian people are amazing!” Thornycroft says.
Row Zambezi has been involved in the region since 2011, when they organised an expedition to explore 1000km of the upper Zambezi River. This year’s focus was on the Kafue Flats. Row Zambezi teamed up with World Rowing and WWF’s Clean Water Project, the Kafue River & Rowing Centre. The 2018 expedition finished at the site of the Centre and funds raised were donated to the project.
The expedition also raised awareness about the critical issues faced in the Kafue River. It supplies 40 per cent of Zambia’s drinking water and generates 50 per Cent of the country’s hydroelectric power. Industry, agriculture and pollution are all taking their toll on the water, which is vital for the people of Zambia.
The 2018 route wound through Kafue National Park and the Kafue Flats, the flood plains of the Kafue River. It is the second largest game park in Africa and is home to crocodiles, elephants, hippos and other predators. This was the first time that rowing boats had been taken into the area.
“Stand out moments were sleeping out under the stars in the flats,” says Thorneycroft, “and stopping at a school along the river and seeing how interested the students were in rowing and what we were doing. We had a magic moment where an elephant crossed the river near us.”
For Row Zambezi, click here.
For the Kafue River & Rowing Centre, click here.