British adventurer Laura Bingham has led her all-female team to success in a world first – paddling the entire length of the Essequibo river in South America from source to sea. Laura Bingham, Pip Stewart and Ness Knight started their journey in the interior of Guyana in remote and pristine forest. To find the true source of the river they cut a path through previously uncharted jungle, before paddling their inflatable kayaks for over 1014km until the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Their journey has seen them traverse the Acarai Mountains, land inhabited by the isolated Wai Wai community, untouched virgin rainforest, unknown and treacherous rapids before entering contentious gold mining areas, small riverside villages and cities until finally arriving at their ultimate destination on the Atlantic of Guyana. This World First expedition has lasted 10 physically and mentally challenging weeks and their world-first has been authenticated by the Wai Wai community in Guyana and endorsed by the First Lady of Guyana Mrs Sandra Granger.
The team, led by Laura Bingham, experienced countless challenges during their journey. From trees blocking the upper reaches of the river, hand-cutting a painstaking trail through virgin forest to the true source of the river at the start of their journey to traversing uncharted and treacherous rapids, portaging their inflatable kayaks around a 50 foot waterfall. They also had to negotiate predatory caiman (crocodile-like animals) and piranha in the water, jaguar crossing through their camp at night, scorpion, biting wasps and burrowing insects along the river bank. Laura, Pip and Ness’s intensive training regime in preparation for this endurance expedition in tropical heat, humidity, where constant immersion in water breeds illness and discomfort has enabled them to succeed in their courageous expedition.
At the heart of their journey is a deep rooted passion to explore and share. In a world dominated by male adventurers Laura, Pip and Ness are keen to inspire other women to be bold and adventurous in whatever ways they can be.
They all firmly believe expeditions, big or small, open your eyes to the beauty of the world and enrich your life experiences. Supported by the Transglobe Expedition Trust they have recorded their journey from start to finish using cutting-edge Canon cameras and lenses, documenting the extraordinary and diverse wildlife from hundreds of fish species in the river to huge moths, scorpion and larger predators such as caiman and jaguar. During the expedition they have used as light a footprint as possible as sustainability is something which all of the team find hugely important. By using special expedition rations from Firepot©, 100% natural nutritional supplements from Nuzest© to keep them in peak health, as well as reusable Mooncup© menstrual cups, they have travelled as lightly as possible.
Laura Bingham, expedition leader, commented, “I am so delighted to have led my all-female team to success in this world first Essequibo expedition. So many women can lose their identity in motherhood and I hope we have shown that women have earned equal place in the adventure world alongside men, and that women can continue to achieve their personal goals as well as being a mum. I hope that we have inspired women everywhere to be courageous and adventurous in their own lives, however they can.
“Neither Ness, Pip nor myself were expert paddlers before this trip, and we have shown that you don’t need to be an expert in something to attempt something extraordinary but with the right planning, training and persistence, we can achieve our goals.”
With the support of the travel search engine KAYAK to plan and manage their trip, the all-female team have travelled confidently throughout this South American challenge. The team will be sharing the vivid images, stories and new skills via their social media channels and in forthcoming talks and appearances.
LAURA BINGHAM www.laurabingham.org
Laura is best known for cycling 7,000km unsupported across South America without touching any money. She has also sailed across the Atlantic and spent four years travelling the world. Laura recently completed a more personal challenge becoming a mum for the first time to baby Ranulph in June 2017. Laura is MIRA (Medicine in Remote Areas) qualified and has undergone intensive paddling training in the run up to this expedition. Laura is represented by Campbell-Bell Communications Ltd.
PIP STEWART www.phillippastewart.com
Pip is passionate about travel, exploration and increasing the profile of women in the adventure world. Pip cycled 10,000 miles from Kuala Lumpur to London. Most recently, she embarked on a 3,000 mile cycle, boat and small plane journey exploring Brazil and Peru and raising awareness of the environmental issues in the region. The series ‘Transamazonica’ is due for release on Al Jazeera Worldwide and Fox International. “Having spent time in the Amazon documenting how deforestation impacts the indigenous communities I know what a magical place the jungle is. For me, what appeals is going with the flow of the river, feeling the rhythms of nature, the physical challenge, learning new skills and overcoming the ‘Oh God, can I do this?’. Human willpower is a phenomenal thing, and I can’t think of anyone better to take this on with than Laura and Ness.” Pip has produced political and travel multimedia stories for The Telegraph, Forbes, the BBC, & CNN amongst others. Pip Stewart is represented by Wolfsong Media.
NESS KNIGHT www.nessknight.com
Ness is passionate about exploring her mental and physical limits in some of the world’s most remote locations. She is the first female to swim the River Thames from source to sea, and she also cycled 2,000 miles solo across the Namib Desert for a Red Bull documentary. Ness has also completed 15 marathons in 15 days. “Having previously paddle boarded over 1000 miles down the Missouri River I have grown to understand how immersive and unique a perspective you can gain when travelling by river. You can quietly glide past native wildlife without disturbing their behaviour. Also uncovering the stories and lives of the local people is a huge motivation for embarking on this expedition.” Ness cycled Bolivia with Laura Bingham with no money, in doing so the pair have formed a strong bond and have learnt how to both push and support one another. Ness Knight is represented by Curtis Brown.