Why Paddle the Nile?

In January 2016 I was where I've been many times: trying to work out what I want to do with my life.  At 43 years old I was still searching for what I want to be when I grow up. 

At that time I was enjoying a brilliant life here in Bondi with a fabulous job I loved, in the best company I had ever worked in.  It just wasn't enough, I was looking for more.  I've tried different jobs, run my own businesses, had successful career, but it's never given me a real sense of fulfilment. Climbing the greasy pole of corporate life doesn't exactly get me leaping out of bed each day.  Leading a predictable life - eat, sleep, work, repeat wasn't cutting it.  I've always wanted to lead a life less ordinary. 

I was reading Danielle La Porte's book, The Desire Map (which I strongly recommend).  Her approach is to work out how you want to FEEL.  Then to delve into what gives you that feeling.  A few things came out - the desire to feel challenged, excited and the need for adventure.  Sitting behind a desk tapping away at the computer was most definitely not going to make me feel like that...  It is amazing travel adventures that made me feel like that.  Stepping into the unknown, seeing new places, learning about different cultures, meeting people on the way.  And then the sports that have always been a huge part of my life and challenges I've set myself with them.  These are the things I love and what drives me more than anything else.  That's when I feel truly alive.  And I wanted to do more than fit them round my work schedule.  

It was around this time I saw a couple documentaries of people who'd achieved amazing physical 'firsts'. Damien Rider who paddled a board 800km from Australia's Gold Coast to Bondi.  Then there was Helen Skelton, the English TV presenter, who paddled the Amazon.  It was a huge 'ah ha' moment, to quote Oprah.  That was it - that's what I want to do - a first like that.  

Next was to find something no one had done.  Some Googling and researching and I had it.  I was going to be the first woman to paddle the length of the Nile by raft and kayak.  But this was humongous - I needed to sit with it, research it, talk to people, to be 100% sure this was what I wanted to do.  So I did. It included reading an amazing book by Hendri Coetzee, called 'Living The Best Day Ever' (highly recommend it). He was an incredible man and true adventurer, who with a group including one of his great friends Pete Meredith, completed a navigation of the Nile from source to sea in around 2004. I've spoken to Pete Meredith and I went to Uganda to see the Nile, to whitewater kayak it, to talk to people there.  I was hooked and absolutely sure, this is what I was going to do.  And boy was I excited!!  And then I told Mum.  Ever so slightly less excited... 

For me this expedition is WAY more than being a first and making it from start to finish.  It's everything that will happen on the way bringing together my great loves:

  • travelling: this will take me through incredible, diverse countries, rich in culture with spectacular scenery.  This is an chance to truly experience these countries, with the people there, paddling with them. And then get to share the world these incredible places and people
  • kayaking: I get to paddle everyday through spectacular scenery (though there are going to be plenty of days when I'm not going to want to pick that paddle up)
  • physical challenge and a big dose of adventure: this is ridiculously challenging and rife with dangers on the way. Rushes of adrenaline will be in the plenty
  • connection: the people I meet, paddle with and the community of women going out and doing their firsts, Winning Women.  Doing things they've always wanted to and have real meaning to them. 

    When the whole thing came to me, I got goosebumps and when I think about and talk to people about the plans, I still do. 

    We're doing this together.  And I can't tell you how excited I am!



    Sarah Davis