The following dispatch is from extreme kayaker, Ben Stookesberry. He and members of the First Ascent kayak team are currently on an expedition in Africa. Their goal: to make a first descent on the Lukuga River, running out of Lake Tanganyika and into the Congo basin. The kayakers will begin their journey on the Nile in Uganda and will follow Stanley's Route over land through Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and into the Congo via Kalemie. Then they will tackle the Lukuga. This is their first dispatch.
Chris Korbulic, Darin McQuoid, Jesse Coombs, and I landed on the northern edge of Lake Victoria in Kampala exactly 30 hours after leaving Reno, Nevada. Incredibly, it only cost $400 to transport kayaks and a few hundred pounds of gear. What's more, everything arrived on time. Well, almost everything. Darin's paddle didn't make it. The paddle escaped its duct tape attachment, and since we watched it successfully load on the plane in Brussels, we knew it must have been ripped off in Rwanda during the layover en route to Uganda. Extremely helpful baggage agents assured us that they would exhaust all means in order to retrieve the lost item.
We met our guide and trip leader, Hendri Coetzee, for the first time just outside customs. Wind, thunder, and flickering lights signaled a storm approaching Lake Victoria—the second largest lake by surface area in the world. "Rainfall on the lake alone produces 80 percent of the water that flows down the section of the Nile that you will see tomorrow," Hendri said. "Better sleep well tonight boys!"