There are many adventurers that have set themselves tough challenges. But I can’t think of many that are more impressive than to be the first to paddle board the River Nile from source to sea. The Adam Short Nile SUP adventure aims to do just that, with no support and no budget either.
I caught up with Adam Short a couple of weeks ago to discuss his coastal odyssey of walking around the UK coastline at the waters edge. The distance of 6,600 miles took Adam 17 months, all done on a shoestring and without the support or fanfare that many adventurers have.
Adam Short Nile SUP adventure
During the interview he told me his next challenge was to be the first to paddle board the River Nile. So I decided a follow up interview was required about the Adam Short Nile SUP adventure. Particularly as although he has already set off to reach the start he is still raising money to complete the adventure.
Currently he is in Italy – travelling by land and sea to the source of the Nile is an adventure in itself. On route he’ll be raising awareness of charities such as Malaria No More and Crocodiles Of The World – an awesome crocodile sanctuary in Oxfordshire.
If you would like to support Adam in his adventure you can find out more at www.adamdshort.com, or you can donate money via PayPal. Here is the interview with Adam Short about his Nile SUP adventure and goal to be the first to paddle board the River Nile from source to sea.
Tell us about your next challenge to be the first to paddle board the River Nile!
Whilst hiking up the east coast of England and still with a very long way to go, I was asked what I would be doing next. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. So I began pondering. Having been to Egypt and Africa during my backpacking adventure I’d often thought about going back, especially to check out the Nile.
Seeing a couple of girls on paddleboards in the sea below me as I hiked one of the cliffs made me wonder if it was at all possible to make paddle board the River Nile from its source to the sea. At this stage i didn’t even know where the source of the Nile was.
For that matter I didn’t even know how to paddleboard. I was a keen kayaker and had learnt to snowboard quite quickly. I figured it couldn’t be much different than combining the two.
As I continued to hike I did further research and contacted FatStick SUP, who’re based in my home town of Bournemouth, and asked for their advice. A few months later and after several Facebook messages they contacted me by phone and said that if I was serious about the challenge, they would supply the board.
How do you intend to negotiate dangers such as rapids and waterfalls, as you try to be the first to paddle board the River Nile?
Naturally I’ve spoken to a few people about the risks I will be facing on the Nile. I met with Jason Lewis for a couple of pints as he’d paddled part of the river on his final leg. He said if i had the right permission or paperwork in place then I should be fine if not the biggest risk I’d have would be getting arrested for being a spy by the Egyptian government. I’m still working on the paperwork at the moment.
I also emailed Levison Wood for advice for my Nile SUP adventure. He’s the guy that had walked the Nile from source to sea. He said “I wouldn’t do it, good luck”. I admit I was hoping for something a bit more constructive.
As for the waterfalls I am taking climbing rope, harness and safety equipment which will allow me to abseil the waterfalls with all my kit. For the rapids, I have spent a day on grade 1 to 3’s and worked closely with FatStick on the design of their new expedition white water inflatable SUP. But I guess I’m just going to have to wait and see what happens.
While I was making the final plans and attempting to get funds to pay for the trip, which I’ve failed miserably at, I decided to paddle board the entire length of the Thames from source to sea as a training exercise.
I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of nights with Charlie Head. Charlie was the first person to paddleboard the Amazon from its source and as far as I know the only person to paddleboard a grade 5 rapid. He looked at my prototype board and said “thats practically cheating”. I assume he was quite impressed with the design fatstick and I had come up with.
Unlike Bear Grylls, Ed Stafford and Levison Wood i have no military background or formal survival training. I am completely self taught and have to adapt to my surroundings and environments in order to thrive. I’m penniless and wherever I lay my head is my home. There is no sponsorship deals or bottomless pit of money to keep me going. I am alone with no support crew, researchers or safety advisors.
Isn’t the Nile particularly famous for its grade 6 rapids though?
Yes, the plan is to hold on tight and hope it spits me out the other side. Its a simple plan, I like simple plans, very little can go wrong.
In the UK you are never too far from a supermarket, how will you feed yourself on your Nile SUP adventure (eg I expect you’ll need a lot of supplies)?
This is very true, on my coastal trek I had supplies sent to post offices or lifeboat stations that I could pick up on my way round. This trip is a little different though and I’ll be pretty remote. Food is going to be a big problem.
To ensure I’m going to eat regularly I’ve learnt how to fish, although not always successfully. I figure that fish live in rivers and the Nile is a pretty big river. I’ve also brushed up on my snare techniques but have yet to catch something in a snare.
Chaz Powell is currently hiking the Zambezi from source to sea so I made contact with him to see how he was coping. He said the locals are really friendly and he’s never without food and is often told he can sleep in the school classrooms or with the tribes.
So I’m not worried about supplies as I’m sure I’ll be fine finding food while I paddle board the River Nile. I do know for sure that on the shores of Lake Victoria they eat fly burgers, it said so in a documentary, so I am looking forward to that!
Are you getting specific training for African challenges such as the wildlife you could meet on your Nile SUP adventure?
Yes naturally I’ve watch all of Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries about African wildlife, and of course Levison Woods “Walking the Nile”. I’ve even read some of his book, it’s very good. Then there’s Joanna Lumley’s Nile documentary, and an excellent National Geographic documentary simply called “Wild Nile” that basically follows the exact route I’m taking.
Robert Twigger, author of “The Red Nile” reckoned I’d be fine and that after a couple of weeks on the river I’d get to understand the wildlife and what to watch out for.
And finally i spoke to Shane, an Australian who works for Crocodiles of the World in Oxford. He’s there main handler, and was full of useful information about what to look out for and be aware of whilst on the river with the crocodiles. He suggested September to October as a good time to go as the beasts tend to lay dormant during that time.
What kind of SUP will you use, does it have storage?
The paddleboard is a custom design. With the fantastic help of Reuben May of FatStick SUP we have developed a special inflatable expedition paddleboard. It is triple lined so more robust than your standard inflatables, to help it handle the punishment it will take over the many rapids and waterfalls I’ll be tackling along the way.
It also only has a single removable fin to allow me to paddle in very shallow waters and over the many obstacles I expect to encounter at the source when I start to paddle board the River Nile.
Another feature of the board is the bumper and stabilisation tubes fixed around the edge of the board. These bumpers / buffer zones will hopefully take any serious impacts instead of the main body of the board. We hope this will mean the board will still float even if the buffers get a puncture from sharp rocks.
There is no cabin built on board but several lashing points which allow me to stow my kit. I will still need to make camp along the route each night, away from the river banks due to the enormous crocodiles that lay in wait for unsuspecting souls!
The stability tubes do work very well on the first prototype however I haven’t tried the new prototype, it’s still in Bournemouth. Sisi the first board was enormous and too heavy so we’ve reduced its dimensions. At around 16kg it’s still too heavy and bulky to lug around. Its maiden voyage will be in Rwanda when I start my Nile SUP adventure.
What do you expect to be the hardest thing of this adventure?
Getting to the start of the challenge. As I said before I have been unsuccessful raising the money I need in order to get visas, equipment, permits, travel or accommodation. That hasn’t put me off though so I’ve set off anyway and I hope to crowd fund the costs on my to Rwanda.
I have had a few donations but that pot is almost empty now. I will need to raise about £1000 just to get to Rwanda and then a further £1000 at least to get me to the finish.
Originally I costed the trip out including new kit and satellite tracking at around £24,000. To date I’ve managed to raise £1800 and I’m making do with my old kit that is quite frankly falling to pieces.
What causes are you raising money for?
I wouldn’t say I’m exactly raising money I prefer to raise awareness of the causes I support. I don’t like sites such as JustGiving as they profit from the donations they receive. On this particular challenge I am supporting Malaria No More who are trying to eradicate malaria worldwide and Crocodiles of the World conservation.
Both charities do a fantastic job in both their specialist fields. Any charity I support undergoes a detailed audit, their accounts and history are checked very carefully as well as the success of any projects they run.
Malaria No More and Crocodiles of the World are bothy worthy of further exposure. I hope that by being the first to paddle board the River Nile it will help more people find out about the charities so they raise more money to continue the great work they are doing.
What else do you have the pipeline?
I can’t help myself, I’m always conjuring up new and exciting adventures. I can’t go in to too much detail but I have two currently in the planning process. Suffice to say I’m not even sure if they’re even possible let alone plausible.
One involves a Honda Monkey Bike and a ridiculously long journey east. The other is another paddleboard expedition along a river in Asia but getting permission will be a challenge in its own right.
I have published one book already “It was all going fine, until I met Kate!”. It’s about my Thames paddleboard adventure and what happened when hurricane Kate hit Britain.
I am still writing the book about my coastal expedition it was going to be called “Close to the Edge” however I had so much time on my hands while I hiked that I calculated that it was approximately 14 million footsteps, so have gone for that as the title. Obviously this has now been put on hold while I take on my Nile SUP adventure.
How are you crowd funding the challenge?
I am using a paypal account as it has less fees than the usual sites such as GoFundMe. I am also approaching companies through social media to see if they can help replace some of my kit.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish Adam good luck on his Nile SUP adventure. If you’d like to help him achieve his goal of being the first to paddle board the River Nile you can donate money via PayPal. To find out more visit www.adamdshort.com.