Escaping, Exploring, Setting Records

By Ingram Casey, founders of Escape Explore

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On the 15th of March 2015, I set off with a small group of intrepid adventurers and paddlers from Cape Town in high spirits and armed with a mixture of nervousness and excitement. Our destination: a little known former hunting concession area deep inside Botswana's Okavango Delta. Our mission: to be the first people to explore the far regions of the famous Delta by Stand Up Paddleboard. 

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There were nine of us on the plane to Maun - four women and five men. A few had only done a small amount of paddling in the past, but were still game to come on this pioneering expedition. The expedition was led by one of the world’s top Stand Up Paddle pioneers Chris Bertish who was later to come the first person to Stand Up Paddle across the Atlantic (solo and unsupported), Andrew Harkness who has put more miles walking and leading groups on foot in the delta than anyone I know and myself. With the support and preparation done we wanted to open up this expedition to individuals who would not normally have the opportunity to be true adventure pioneers given the constraints of their working and family lives. 

It was a bold expedition with adventure as the theme, pioneering an area never Stand-Up Paddled before. We all learnt a great deal, we experienced a whole new world and got to be completely out in the wild, alone, in a very remote part of nature, propelled by our own efforts and without polluting the Delta with engine noise or petrol fumes. 

We experienced something that most people will never have the good fortune of seeing. Connecting with nature, in its most raw and primal state, is a humbling experience. To do it with a group of people from normal working life, not expert sports people, paddlers or wildlife rangers proved that an experience like this can change your world, your thoughts, your expectations your possible! 

Seeing the reward we all got from pushing our comfort zones, taking on the challenge to escape, explore and have an amazing new adventure, it made me realize that adventures of this kind are more wide reaching than I thought possible and have a far more powerful impact on the individuals when comfort zones are crossed. 

This kicked off our pioneer series of African Adventures where we offer the opportunity for individuals from none adventurous backgrounds to join our expert guides on pioneer trips throughout Africa. Including; self-supported wild hikes on the Traskei coast line; riding never surfed before waves in KwaZulu Natal; paddling remote uncharted Mozambican coastlines and more. 

In the words of Chris Bertish “Remove the words 'can't' and 'impossible' from your world and it's amazing what you’ll be able to do. Think of the things you’ll see, the people you’ll meet, the places you’ll go...” 

kelsey bumsted