Ben and I paddled up to the edge of the Tisisat waterfalls that overlook the start of this mysterious river that we’ve anticipated for so long. We then started our hike to meet the rest of ‘The Last Descent’ team, a group of characters from Idaho, Canada, Italy and Ethiopia.
The entire sixteen-strong crew of professional raft and kayak guides were tested right from the start with six fully-loaded rafts to drag through technical rapids and ancient volcanic rock. This is probably the only time anyone else other than me thought that a paddle board out here was a good idea.
At the end of every single day Ben had to squeeze the last drops of power from the solar panels to recharge the film gear while we scouted for camps on the open sand banks. The cheeky little dinosaurs local to the river were always lurking about, their belly-slide tracks on the banks of the river as evidence of their presence. We only saw teenage crocs to start with, then a few bigger ones confidently cruised up and checked us out. To be honest we started off rather boisterous by slapping the water or throwing rocks but gradually we just got on with it. And as soon as I put on my croc tail, I was invisible, or maybe they’d think I was flirting with them and let me through? The kayakers hopped on the rafts with no intention in provoking an attack but if I’m honest it was the hippos we were worried about. With the water so low, our passageway through them was tight. If there was a bull or babies about, we would huddle close together and gently slide past, with just a few nostril flares from to let us know he’s watching. One of the greatest noises of the river wasn’t the amazing birds but the hippos, bellowing deep ‘ho ho ho’ sounds like a sinister Santa.