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Kayaking around Iceland - a stroke of inspiration

 The Big Issue South Africa 26 September 2019

Modern-day explorer, Riaan Manser, and new expedition partner, Dan Skinstad, have set out to become the first South Africans to circumnavigate Iceland in a kayak. In this exclusive column, Manser and Skinstad share their individual experiences throughout their icy epic, dubbed ‘Iceland on inspiration.’ (608 Words) - By Riaan Manser and Dan Skinstad



"The frustration has taken its toll on everyone. We have had two crew members pack their bags to go home. Even though they have what may seem good excuses, the bottom line is that they just could not go the distance. The made-in-Africa film crew travelling with us are a robust bunch but have little experience in the "reality" of what my expeditions are about.

My relationship with Dan is tethered to the extreme, and justifiably so. Dan believes I have been way too hard on him, while I believe we need to be doing rather than just talking. Amidst this, we don't see eye to eye.

I understand that I have more experience than most in these environments but it cannot allow me to excuse any of our team members' unwillingness to over-perform.

All the drama related to missing home, feeling sorry for ourselves when things haven't worked out the way we dreamed, and continuing to find a never-ending list of excuses as to why we are under-performing, is pathetic. Yip, it is.

I cannot begin to explain how this journey is in the lap of luxury when compared to my Africa or Madagascar efforts. It's pathetic for me to spend one second's effort finding excuses for my failures instead of getting tough on myself to own up, face up and fix it. I know every team member has their own challenges. I for one will take my own failures on and overcome, no matter what, otherwise I have achieved nothing.

We can't be speaking about doing at this point, we have to be doing.

No negotiation."


"Since you last heard from me our time here has been characterised by highs and lows.

The wind has been blowing a howling gale, meaning that we've been stationary for a long time. I certainly know what cabin fever means now more than ever.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of our long waits is that I'm not able to spend enough time on the water to better my balance and paddle stroke which, ironically, are the two things holding us back, over and above the weather.

On the upside, we did an incredible midnight paddle across Lonsvik towards Höfn. It felt surreal and really good at the same time.

And two of the film crew have gone to Reykjavik for a few days with Riaan to film Iceland from the air in a helicopter.

Vasti [Riaan's girlfriend] is also visiting for a while, which I'm certain both her and Riaan will enjoy. In the meantime, I've been training with the stationary kayak - that is to say, machine borrowed from a local kayak enthusiast - and walking with sandbags to build my strength.

It's been good to have some down-time and gather my thoughts, as the stretch that lies ahead towards Vik and beyond is notoriously difficult.

The town of Stokksnes has been a-buzz this weekend as there was a fishermen's holiday and one could feel that the whole town was enjoying themselves.

The guys arrive back from Reykjavik soon and it's hopefully going to be back to business as usual. Bye for now."

The Journey

Journey days at time of writing: 71

Distance covered: 571km

Distance still to cover: 1,425km

Location at time of writing: Stokksnes, south east of Höfn

Next stop: Skinneyjarhöfði, west of Höfn

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