From its remote jungle source in the Acarai Mountains on Guyana’s southern border with Brazil, the Essequibo River flows north for more than 1,000 kilometres – winding, twisting and roaring through the rainforest until it discharges into the Atlantic Ocean.
South America’s third-largest river (behind the Amazon and Orinoco), incredibly, the Essequibo has never been navigated from source to sea.
In February 2018 Laura Bingham will lead an all female team to attempt to be the first people to ever descent the river. Along with her team mates Ness Knight and Pip Stewart, Laura has been re-training to become proficient in paddling big rivers.
The expedition, that begins in the land of the indigenous Wai Wai tribe, is expected to take seven weeks in duration and the ladies will fish for piranhas to supplement their protein whilst sleeping in hammocks by the side of the river each evening.
Unlike many parts of South America, 70% of the natural forest remains, and the country boasts one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. The ladies will paddle through untouched rainforest encountering giant river otters, capybaras, caiman, jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters, various species of monkey along the way.
Vast sections of the river comprise huge waterfalls and treacherous rapids and so the team acknowledges that it will have to portage (cary their kit by foot) large chunks of the river through the jungle with machetes to open the routes. As a result they are conducting the expedition using the latest inflatable kayaks that can be deflated, packed into a backpack, and hauled through the trees.
Should the team succeed they will not just be the first female team to run the Essequibo, they will be the first people (male or female) ever to navigate the river and will have earned a Guinness World Record by doing so.