By Phil Harwood

At 2,922 miles, the Congo is the 8th longest river and the inner most on this planet, with a circulate price moment simply to the Amazon. Ex-Marine Phil Harwood launched into an epic solo trip from the river's actual resource within the highlands of Zambia via war-torn imperative Africa. without outdoor support whatever he confronted swamps, waterfalls, man-eating crocodiles, hippos, competitive snakes and spiders' webs the dimensions of homes. He collapsed from malaria, and was once arrested, intimidated and chased. On one stretch, referred to as 'The Abattoir' for its heritage of cannibalism and recognition for criminality, the 4 brothers he employed as bodyguards have been requested by way of locals, 'Why have not you narrow his throat yet?'But he additionally obtained super hospitality from proud and courageous humans lengthy forgotten by means of the Western global, particularly pleasant riverside fishermen who helped anyplace they can on Phil's exhilarating and terrifying five-month trip.

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Serving in Arctic Norway and the jungles of Borneo taught me how to look after myself in extreme environments, while a few months in Iraq taught me that the Americans have got a lot more money than we have. After that, it was Africa and the beginning of my dream of canoeing down the Congo. It took me a long time to get there, but in that time I still followed my love of adventure and challenge, working as a personal development instructor for Outward Bound in Wales. Most people think Outward Bound is a generic name for all outdoor courses, but the organisation itself has very specific aims.

I'd met him a couple of days earlier when he'd taken me on one of my many trips to the airport and he'd helped me retrieve some money from another taxi driver who had ripped me off. This guy had claimed to be unable to give me change for a large note, but said he'd come back with it when I needed to be picked up from the airport a couple of hours later. I made the mistake of trusting him – and naturally he didn't show. But when I arrived with Jason the next day, I'd spotted this guy at the taxi rank and asked Jason to stop whilst I jumped out.

Transforming into diplomatic mode and explaining our lack of brakes, we soon had him eating out of the palm of our hands and he eventually put his 'bad-boy' back in its holster. Our next encounter was even more memorable; it was a guy trundling along the road on a homemade wooden bike, complete with solid wooden wheels. He'd carved the thing from the materials he found in the forest, using a machete, and bound it together with strips of rubber inner tube. It was a work of art. This bloke had been pushing the heavily-loaded bike uphill and riding downhill for two weeks, sleeping in the jungle at night, just to sell his goods for a profit of $20.

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