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Kayaking around Iceland - The last stroke of inspiration

 The Big Issue South Africa 17 October 2019

Many readers have unfailingly been following modern day explorer Riaan Manser and his expedition partner Dan Skinstad on their adventure around Iceland in a kayak via this regular column. Manser and Skinstad have finally done it. After more than four months of gruelling paddling, highs and lows and emotional turbulence, they’ve become the first South Africans to circumnavigate Iceland in a kayak, and the first in the world to do so in a double kayak. Tarryn Brien caught up with the two intrepid explorers at the airport to get the final wrap-up of the icy epic. (443 Words) - By Tarryn Brien

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BI SA_The last stroke of inspiration 1

Dan Skinstad and his expedition partner Riaan Manser.Credit: Around Iceland on Inspiration Media

BI SA_The last stroke of inspiration 2

Riaan Manser (left) and Dan Skinstad.Credit: Around Iceland on Inspiration Media


Riaan

"We are so happy to be home. The reward of doing something big and then coming home is incredible. Dan and I have achieved something great and I am proud of him.

Having Dan with me and it being his first time on an adventure like this has been a challenge for me. The pressure of looking after someone and the realisation that nobody understood that pressure got me a bit down. I've had a couple of low points, but it wasn't ever too negative and I've never felt like coming home because of it. I've never once doubted that I was going to do what I said I was going to do with Dan.

If we could sum up the experience into one sentence it would have to be that this trip has been a learning curve for both Dan and me. I know now that I wouldn't take on the responsibility of having someone's life in my hands again but I will always value the experience.

I've missed so many little things like a good boerewors roll and bowl of ice cream and I'm looking forward to having them once we get home.

The next step in my journey is still uncertain. I'll probably go somewhere exotic for a shorter period but right now it's only an idea I have and I'm not in a hurry to figure it out just yet."

Dan

"I'm excited to be going home properly. I've learnt so much about my life and myself. I've learnt to up my game when it comes to being independent.

Doctors told me that I wouldn't be able to do this [due to having mild cerebral palsy], but I did. If you believe in yourself and you have the support of your friends and family, then you can do anything you want to.

Riaan was unbelievable; he has a survival instinct like you can't believe. This is partly because he has done it all, but also because it's just who he is. I felt safe because I knew he had my back from day one. He was so reassuring.

So many people want to know why I did this and there's not really an answer. I believe that if you are going to improve yourself, you need a shock to the system. You can't do it half-heartedly from a safe environment; you have to go all the way and push yourself.

I am proud of how far I've come. It was an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade. I am happy to be home, though. I've missed everyone so much and can't wait to see my friends and family.

[BOXOUT]

The Journey

Starting point

Husavik to Porshöfn

Ending point

Reykir to Husavik

Distance Paddled

2 000km

Days paddling

147

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