Greetings from Cairo!
No, don't worry, I haven't secretly kicked the expedition off! I'll get to what I'm doing here in just a minute... This newsletter is an update on what's been happening, including details of a podcast I was recently interviewed for, the first fundraising event, a short video from training on Sydney harbour and what's coming up.
Pete Meredith, who completed a descent of the White Nile back in 2004, said to me, “Sarah, the paddling will be the easy bit”. At the time I wasn’t entirely convinced, but now I can see where he was coming from. Organising this expedition is a bit like spinning a whole load of plates. An entire dinner service in fact. And I’m loving every minute of it...
Below are the nine key areas underway - for each one, if you think you can help in any way, please let me know:
1. SHOUT ABOUT IT
Promoting Paddle the Nile and building a following is vital... Well you’ve seen the website, watched the video, looked at the photos, now we have the PODCAST! I was super excited to be interviewed by Travis Bell, the Bucket List Guy, for his podcast. We had a fun chat about the expedition. Go to this link to the podcast or head to iTunes under “The Bucket List Life’. He has plenty of great podcasts.
Balmain Sports Medicine very kindly published an article on the expedition in their recent newsletter and popped it on their Facebook and Instagram. Do check them out - they have a highly comprehensive list of services. I see one of their genius physios there, Brett Kemble.
I'm constantly looking for ways to promote the expedition - if you've got any ideas, please give me a shout.
We had our first fundraising event – a morning tea at work. Big thanks to Brad Deeth who organised it and provided all the cakes (of which I ate way too many, oops). We raised $400 which work has matched, so that's $800 For CARE. So far over $5,000 of the $100,000 target has been reached. What a brilliant start!
Anyone keen to donate to CARE just click here or there's a link from my website.
Next up will be a major fundraiser before setting off. If anyone can help with this, I'd love to hear from you.
3. GETTING TO YES
This expedition requires approvals, and with six countries to go to, that's a lot of approving to be done.
- Some countries it’s a simple as getting a tourist visa on arrival
- Others you have to negotiate your way through a completely undocumented process
- A big win is to just find out which government department you need to talk to
And that’s why I’m here in Cairo before heading to Khartoum in Sudan. It’s about navigating my way through this approval process, meeting with officials and heading into the Embassies. There'll be a full update to look forward to in the next newsletter and hopefully some good news to share...
4. GETTING ME READY
In between all this organising, training is going well. I fell into a bit of hole after Molokai, my paddling just didn’t feel good. Happily I'm back on track now, feeling great and making progress.
Below is short video from a recent training session out on Sydney's stunning harbour. Gotta say, I reckon it's a pretty good playground!
5. TALK TALK
I’ve been lucky enough to talk to some guys who have done similar expeditions.
- Pete Meredith who I mentioned at the start. He’s an expedition organiser and highly experienced rafting guide who lives in Uganda
- Mark Tanner: he and Les Jickling paddled the length of the Blue Nile in 2004
- Beau Miles: an Aussie legend who’s kayaked from Mozambique to South Africa, kayaked the Bass Strait and much more. Check out his website and some of this short films, definitely worth a watch
Away from kayakers, I've been meeting and picking the brains of lots of people. A standout was Tanya Plibersek, member of Parliament for Sydney, the Shadow Minister for both Women and Eduction as well as being the Deputy Opposition Leader. I even got to chat to Hugh Jackman about the expedition (I kid you not!) and he kindly made a donation to CARE.
It’s been such a privilege to talk to all these people and many more than are listed here. They’ve shared so many ideas, contacts and advice, it's been absolute GOLD. What's blown me away is the support and enthusiasm for what I'm doing. Clearly it's incredibly important to me, so when I get this kind of feedback, it means the world. Thank you!
While in Egypt and Sudan I'll be meeting with fellow kayakers. They'll be paddlers from all the countries I go through joining me on the expedition. A number of paddlers have already submitted their interest.
7. RISK MANAGEMENT
Pulling together a risk management plan is pretty key, no surprises there. Finally my decades of managing risk as a profession is paying off!! Another focus of this trip to Egypt and Sudan is getting advice on security. I’ve also had initial specific intelligence reports on each of the countries and these reports will be updated throughout the trip.
Then there's small support team to be set up who'll be on the end of a phone to check in with each day and help manage anything that should come up.
8. GETTING $$$
As announced previously, we’ve got our first sponsor, Shaw and Partners. There are more to come and many conversations underway. Once I'm back from Africa, this'll be the primary focus.
It includes reaching out to a number of equipment suppliers. We're talking providers of kayaks, paddles, clothing, camping equipment, sat nav phones, GPS, solar powered chargers, water filters...the list goes on.
If you can think of companies you'd recommend approaching or introduce me to, please let me know. We're looking at companies relevant to what I'm doing as well as those with an interest in the region.
9. WINNING WOMEN
This is a big part of what I want to achieve with this expedition - building a community of women being bold, getting out of their comfort zones, doing things they've always wanted to and inspiring and encouraging each other along the way. You'll be hearing and seeing more on this in the coming weeks.
Those are the most significant areas I'm working on, but by no means all of it. To those who are helping, thank you so much. Wouldn't have got this far without you.
If reading this you think you might be able to help in any of the areas covered, have people you think I should talk to or any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.
Finally, don't forget to follow on my ‘Paddle the Nile’ Facebook page and Instagram account for more updates.