With only a month to go until my next expedition departure date, I think it’s the right time to unveil the webpage for that expedition: Mahaweli Challenge.
After Encircle Africa it took me a long time to dream up an expedition as equally ridiculous in form and structure and one which grabbed me so fully and whole-heartedly as circumnavigating Africa solo and unassisted by publicly available transport. What I thought were good ideas dropped out of my consciousness (a sure sign they weren’t that good), and I began to fear that I would never again feel inspired enough to have the gut-wrenching need to get out into the unknown and do something others might consider silly, or crazy, or preferably, both.
But it hasn’t been quite as long as this. As anyone who has read my adventure needs you post will know, over the past months I’ve been taken with the now fully-fledged plan of hiking, paddling, and portaging the 208 mile (335 km) length of Sri Lanka’s longest river, the Mahaweli Ganga, or Great Sandy River.
At a comparable length to the River Thames, the Mahaweli is twice the length of Sri Lanka’s second longest river. A watershed for much of the island, it winds its way through many of Sri Lanka’s diverse regions. Forming in the cool climes of the hill country, it shields the ancient kingdom of Kandy on two of the city’s three sides, before running beside national parks that see very little human activity, and eventually reaches the humid beaches of the Bay of Bengal to the north-east of the island.
Having never set foot in a kayak or canoe on water (I’ve given Challenge a test run in my living room), and never having been thrown together with an expedition partner before, this source to sea expedition is as far from Encircle Africa as it’s perhaps possible to get, and will be another huge mental and physical challenge for someone as weak willed and weak of upper arm as I am.
But for me there’s little point in doing what I already know I can easily achieve. I take a perverse pleasure in putting myself in uncomfortable situations, in order to challenge myself and put a new perspective on the usual machinations of life.
With an inflatable kayak purchased, maps printed, and eager teammate in place, it only remains for me to throw my mountain of kit into a bag and haul it to the airport in time for my flight.