I started dreaming of exploring the planet's remotest rivers very early in life. I have a vivid memory of sitting on the carpet of my house in Los Gatos, California at the age of nine, surrounded by half a dozen encyclopedias and a huge world atlas, poring over maps of Botswana, Ecuador, Mongolia, Sumatra and British Columbia, seeking out the thin blue lines on the maps that designate the remotest rivers, swamps, creeks and tributaries. The more inaccessible and distant from civilization, the more excited I was about getting in there and taking a look. Even at that tender age I was already calculating distances, working out logistics, thinking about rainy seasons, dangerous animals, wild edible foods, tribal boundaries, and listing essential gear in my head. The 'normal' kids were playing outside - I was studying elevation and terrain in the Serra Pacaraima mountains in southern Venezuela. A very unusual child...
My motivation for these journeys is pretty simple - an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, and an almost obsessive desire to seek out the earth's purest remaining wild places. I have no interest in fame or fortune, and do not explore rivers to prove anything, to myself or to the world. I have never been terribly interested in achieving 'firsts' (the first to explore a particular region, the first to paddle down such and such a river, etc). I don't justify journeys by cloaking them in some pseudo-scientific purpose or making them about raising money, or sponsoring a noble cause. I have always believed that wilderness exploration in its purest form is a noble calling in itself.
Though I have been venturing into remote river systems on and off for a quarter of a century, I only started dragging a video camera along since 2004, when I thought it might be fun to record one of my many solo treks through trackless terrain in the northern Kimberley region of Western Australia. Previously I had not felt that filming my unique solitary trips was viable, because the cameras weren't small enough. Technology rolls on, however, and these days I carry a high quality video camera, tripod, all the batteries, tapes and filming gear in my pack on every journey. At the moment, I do all the editing myself when I return home.
The past half a dozen years have been fun - my journeys have included paddling and trekking along jungle rivers in Gabon (West Africa) to experience the Baka pygmy culture and track down wild forest elephants, a successful search for wild orangutans between the Kinabatangan and Segama rivers in Sabah, Borneo, a month-long kayak down the Ecstall River in British Columbia to film bears (and listen to wolves howl near my tent at dusk...) a foray into the 13,000-square-kilometre swampland of Los Esteros del Ibera in northern Argentina, and a solo packraft exploration along the King Edward River in the Kimberley. Future journeys are in the planning stages for La Gran Sabana region of Venezuela, the remotest parts of Alaska, Lake Khovsgol in Mongolia, tracking dry riverbeds in northern Namibia with the Bushmen, and investigating little known tributaries of the Rio Paraguay, to name a few.
Most of the questions people seem to have about my unique adventures have hopefully been answered on my FAQ page. If you have others, please feel free to contact me. If I am at the time exploring some unknown tributary in a far-flung part of the earth, it may be a month or two before I can reply, so please be patient - I'll do my best.
When I am not exploring rivers, I work as a professional freelance writer. Wild rumours that I dress up in wilderness clothing, wear kayaking sandals and hang a compass around my neck while performing writing tasks are completely untrue (at least there are no substantiating photos... that I know of...)