Welcome to our sea kayaking project, "Facing the wind".

In March 2009 we will attempt to paddle more than 4.000 nautical miles along Argentina for the first time. Starting at La Quiaca, a little town settled in the heights of the northern Andes Mountains at 14.000 ft we will cycle and paddle to end this trip 10 months later in the very end of Patagonia, precisely in the city of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego province.
We’ll have to cycle 410 miles with our sea kayaks in carts to get to the waters of the Bermejo, an always changing river with plenty of crocodiles, snakes, piranhas and many other wildlife. Also we’ll have to paddle along the big Paraguay and Paraná rivers that come from the Brazilian Amazon to die many miles later in the Atlantic Ocean. These two rivers are an excellent option for kayak fishing. The hardest part of the expedition comes last when our sea kayaks will head south in search of the Patagonian coasts, full of rocks and ridges, cold temperatures and strong winds. This Atlantic coastline is extraordinarily rich in sea birds, penguins, whales and sea lions, but no human presence for many miles. The use of an inverse osmosis bomb for purifying salt water will be vital for survival in places where rain is not usual for many months and fresh water rivers don’t get to the sea.
Why paddling 4.000 nautical miles? Our kayaking philosophy is quite simple; we believe that we can use our kayaks to generate conscience. Working hard locally can lead us to global solutions. The daily effort and a positive mind makes the difference, so lets do what we know best, lets paddle and show people that everybody can do something to solve problems in a local scale. This time we paddle for rural schools and environment preservation. Rural schools have little resources and are settled in the middle of nowhere, so people have to get there walking, horse riding, rowing, but never on a school bus. This kind of schools also feed children that spend all day far away from home. Our help is needed, so we are trying to compromise everybody to donate food, clothes, shoes, books, computers and many other things.
Environmental problems are also important; we paddle for clean rivers and healthy ecosystems, for the respect of wildlife, global warming, against industries breaking the laws and many other threats that nature is suffering.
The team members started paddling in sea kayaks 10 years ago. Now they spend their time teaching the basics of kayaking and guiding people through the islands of the Paraná Delta, a unique ecosystem formed by the deposition of river sediments.
Never stop exploring is an option in Argentina; we still have many rivers to paddle with the same purposes of this trip.
So, lets go paddling!! Enjoy Argentina!

jueves, 5 de noviembre de 2009

A CHANGING RIVER FULL OF SURPRISES (PART 2)

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009

The river started out with lots of surprises and we started out with lots of uncertainties. From the beginning we received warnings of “be careful here, watch out in Zanjas del Tigre, look out for loose branches (whole trees, actually) and be careful with the rocks at the bottom”, among other things. The first thing we did was check the kayaks’ drafts because the boats were really very loaded. We immediately went into a “runner” and the water was “boiling”, which can only mean two things: it’s not deep and there are rocks at the bottom. Logically, we started to hear the banging on the hulls, but the only to pass through was 30 cms deep, and this continued all through the first stretch, but at the end of the day we had left the rocks behind.

We’re finally in the Bermejo sailing downstream. These are some of the dynamics of this river. The Bermejo is a river born in the heights that receives flows from other rivers. Upstream, it’s a mountain river but when it joins the Tarija, it gets very plentiful. From there on it brings with it loads of trees and yungas. The whole river is a great cemetery of trees, with lots of traps and whirlpools. At the beginning we were zigzagging avoiding tree branches everywhere, but really a whole lot of fun.

The best came the second day, with a river full of static waves (deep ripples that form enormous waves that you can surf). The water was a bit cold and the Asiaks dove their bows against the current halfway into the waves.

The Bermejo is always changing and can either come down with large volumes of water, at medium depth or sometimes during the year with almost no water at all, but at its peak, hold on tight! Since it doesn’t have many drops, it’s a very winding river, curves and counter curves throughout its 1500 kms that if measured in a straight line, are only 500. Some curves form curls that are separated by only 100 meters, but to go around them ones has to paddle for 10 kms.

The Bermejo always hits against a gully, so on the opposite curve there are generally beaches of clay and sand = MUD! Yes, there’s mud everywhere, and what’s more complicating are the moving sands, that if you’re not careful you can sink into up to your neck. The climate these days has been strange. We’re in the medium to low depth part of the year. It has rained almost every night, and during the day the temperature is 35°C or cloudy with no possibility of charging our batteries with the solar panels.

Last comment: in the stretch that crosses the province of Salta, the river is almost 1 km wide, constantly varying in depth, but always looks the same, like a big brown cloak, which makes it difficult to detect the right course. We paddle three in a row, but walking with our kayaks is sometimes involved, because it’s inevitable to get stuck in the mud. And to complicate things more, the riverbed is infested with ray fish, with their sharp tails full of poison, which can be very painful.

We try to camp high on top of the gullies where the mud is dry, but the challenge is to find a landing with as little mud as possible, or else that night it’s muddy feet inside the tent!

Next part, the Bermejo River and its animal kingdom.

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