In the beginning of August I plan to paddle down the largest river in Europe – the Danube, covering the full length of its Bulgarian section (470 km).
This next step toward my solo expedition to the Amazon will resemble most closely my mission along the tropical rivers planned for the upcoming year.
At the peak of summer water levels will have reached their seasonal low and making my way into some of the distributaries stretching inland will not be an easy feat. Heat, sandflies and mosquitoes will be an inevitable nuisance making life on the canoe all the more Amazonian. The perfect training conditions are those which force you to eschew comfort, meaning that I should go easy on luxuries such as rich food and fancy equipment. The shallowness of the river does not make it any safer; there is always the risk that I will find myself in a dead-end – a tight spot from which I cannot continue by boat because the water is too low for me to pursue the chosen direction. In such situations I have two options – go back or continue on foot, dragging the canoe behind me. Of course it would be much more sensible to simply follow the main course of river and reach the finish line without too much hassle, but it is precisely by leaving the safest path that I will face challenges identical to those which await me in the much vaster water labyrinth of the Amazon.
Camping in ill-suited spots due to lack of a better option or for any other reason such as getting lost, injured or simply not having managed my time properly given the abrupt fall of night in the tropics will force me to make decisions under pressure.
Sleeping in the canoe because there is nowhere to put up my hammock, going a week or more without proper food are setbacks I have already tasted; setbacks like these are bound to happen and if I hope otherwise I am setting myself for failure. In short, preparation is an all too important component of the expedition and with the Danube experience I have no intention of making things easy for myself.
This watery step to my next big adventure will allow me to test the full potential of the Ally canoe by Bergans of Norway provided by my friends and partners from CampingRocks BG – friends who fuel my faith in the project.
The Danube is my favourite river in Bulgaria – wide, wild and forsaken.