A lot of kickasstrips are dreamed up over one too many alcoholic beverage in the pub. In similar fashion Dustin Corkery and Adrian Traquair had a vodka infused epiphany while playing a game of chess in 2007. In their moment of brilliance they dreamed up the plan for a rafting adventure down the Indian and holy Ganges river. They wanted to row 1300 km from New Delhi to Varanasi for adventures’ sake was the plan. It turned into something a whole lot more extreme with double the distance. And a wonderful travel documentary.
Rowing the Ganges river
In the spring of 2007 Corkery and Traquair were playing a game of chess. The bottle of vodka they emptied over that game gave them plenty of inspiration and they came up a plan to row the Ganges from New Delhi to Varanasi. The trip was going to be 1300 kilometers as that would fit into their limited holiday time.
Two weeks before they were to embark on their (rafting) adventure of a lifetime a mutual friend invited them over for drinks. It was a movie producer and – inspired by drinks once again – he offered to turn their adventure into a TV series…but only if they would extend their trip into a 2500km row. One more drink. Deal done.
And so the adventurers left with cameras and an adventure film assignment.
A Rafting Adventure down the Ganges
Traquair and Corkery left Canada with 2 cameras, a solar panel, a tent and an inflatable blue raft. Their new extended route would see them rowing from New Delhi to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
The first part of the rafting adventure sees them rowing on the Yamuna river until Varanasi, where the Yamuna flows into the Ganges. Continuing on India’s biggest river they row downstream all the way to Dhaka. With little experience on the water and even less planning the task at hand was monstrous. And when they arrived in New Delhi, their inexperience led them to an unexpected surprise:
Little did we know that it was dry season and that the water in the river during the dry season would be in countless places ankle deep and sometimes, completely absent. The original plan of buying and rowing a wooden local boat – which has the weight of a compact car – would have been impossible. We thanked the stars that in the end we had decided to go with an inflatable raft that we had brought from Canada.
When they had inflated their raft the trip started with a ‘pull and drag’ session through the ankle deep water of the Yamuna river. As they had only started their trip late in the day they managed to cover a mere kilometers on their first day on the river, or actually wading through the mud.
They set up camp on a sandbar and their lack of preparation led to the next setback when their cheap local stove broke. So instead of eating a hot meal they sat in their tent nibbling on peanut brittle and oranges debating about going back to Delhi, which was so close by (due their lack of progress) that they could have walked. This was not the trip they had in mind. This was not the romantic adventure they had saved all that money for. But instead of going back to Delhi they went to sleep.
The next morning we woke up cold and hungry. Wild dogs ran away with our last bit of peanut brittle. Fog rose from the garbage filled water. It felt surreal. It wasn’t what we had planned, but we had started: we were on our adventure.
As the mist cleared we heard the sound of a large animal crossing the water. It turned out to be four men on a cart being pulled by a water buffalo. Our original wariness of strangers quickly evaporated. These men had come to offer us chai and bread and we thankfully accepted. We played charades and conveyed our plan to row down the river. They seemed somewhat impressed with the bright blue boat sticking out of the grey and brown surroundings. This was the first morning, this was not the last time our stove failed, nor was it the last time we were saved by the hospitality and generosity of the locals around us. This was just the beginning but these first 24 hours on the water could be used as a metaphor for the trip as a whole.
10 months later, 2500km’s down the river, over 85 pounds lighter, Traquair and Corkery rowed into Dhaka finalizing their kickass rafting adventure. They had made it but without the help of all the strangers they had met they would have never managed. They had conquered the Ganges river by battling heat stroke, parasites, thieves and hunger. But they had made it. And they had made a kickass documentary along the way.
Around the Next Bend
The documentary “Around the Next Bend,” chronicles the daily triumphs and struggles the boys have as they navigate down this mystic river. From the troublesome departure of their rafting adventure, the logistical struggles in New Delhi up to their arrival in the sweltering heat of Dhaka, Bangladesh. They camp on the shore of the river, get their food and supplies from local villages
Away from the comforts of western civilization they must quickly learn a new set of survival skills to deal with the chaotic beauty of India. Not only will they discover this vast and stunning country through its rich culture and heritage, they also discover themselves – and each other – as they are driven to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion and learn to adapt to situations that are beyond their control.
Find more kickass River & Rafting trips that will baffle your travel appetite here.