The 7 Rivers, 7 Continents Expedition

7 rivers

Adventurer Mark Kalch’s next big project is his 7 Rivers, 7 Continents paddling expedition, in which he will attempt to paddle the length of the longest rivers on each of the seven continents. Having already knocked off one of those rivers, he says he figured he might as well “man up and finish the rest.”

Back in 2007 and 2008, Mark was part of an expedition that paddled the length of the Amazon River, covering more than 4300 miles. The Amazon, which stretches across South America, is the longest river in the world, and quite a challenge to navigate, but the other rivers that are waiting for him will each offer their own unique challenges as well.

The list of rivers he intends to paddle include the following:

Nile River (Africa) – 6650 km (4132 miles)
Yangtze River (Asia) – 6300 km (3916 miles)
Mississippi-Missouri River (North America) – 6275 km (3912 miles)
Volga River (Europe) – 3645 km (2266 miles)
Murray-Darling River (Australia) – 3370 km (2904 miles)
Onyx River (Antarctica) – 40 km (25 miles)

According to ExWeb, who brought this story to my attention, Mark will use a variety of watercraft to make these descents, including kayaks, white water rafts, and even stand-up paddle boards, depending on the type of water he is encountering at any given time. They also estimate that it will take him anywhere from 4 to 6 months to complete each river, so obviously this project will keep him busy for the next few years.
Each of these rivers will have a very different feel, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on four of the seven. The Nile, for instance, will be long and and hot, without much to see other than desert for much of its run, although it will be quite a ride to get things started.
On the other hand, the Mississippi will keep him in the middle of civilization for the vast majority of the duration, with plenty of places to stop and rest, get a good meal, sleep in a comfortable bed, and so on. The experiences are going to be dramatically different, and this should be a fun expedition to follow for that alone. 
Anyway you look at it though, this is going to be a series of epic paddling adventures. Even the short, 25-mile long Onyx in Antarctica will have its share of challenges. Can’t wait to read the updates!
Kraig Becker

2 thoughts on “The 7 Rivers, 7 Continents Expedition”

  1. This is not only huge, but worthy. Some well-hyped projects strike me as being silly (why someone would walk next to a navigable river, especially the world's longest, is beyond me), but this one has merit.

    Like you say, each will present unique challenges, and the top 3 (2 remaining) will be really hard. Logistics and permits will be the crux, except on the Nile, where not getting killed or kidnapped will be important. The actual paddling should go fine.

    I hope he deems it a requirement to start at the actual headwaters of each; it's the upper 5% where all the action is.

  2. I'd guess that he'll run it source to mouth like he did on the Amazon, or start at least as close to the source as possible in each case.

    I agree that the big action will be in that first 5% or so on each river, from then on, it'll be all about putting in the time and having the endurance to keep going. Most won't be nearly as wild as the Amazon though.

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