All-female team completes world first river expedition

26 April 2017: Three female British adventurers have successfully completed a world-first expedition – paddling the entire length of the Essequibo river in South America from source to sea.

Group of people celebrating with champagne at ocean's edge

The adventurers celebrate reaching the Atlantic with representatives of the Wai Wai community. Credit: Jon Williams

Throughout the 10-week, 630-mile (1,041km) challenge, Laura Bingham, Pip Stewart and Ness Knight relied on Inmarsat to keep them connected with the outside world.

A compact Explorer 510 BGAN terminal tucked away in one of their inflatable kayaks allowed them to chart their journey through photos, video and blogs shared with their supporters thousands of miles away.

For safety, they carried an IsatPhone 2 satellite phone, able to pinpoint their location and allow them to call for assistance easily and quickly.

Three women kayaking

Fortunately the team did not suffer any emergencies but there were plenty of challenges to face during the expedition, which was conducted in collaboration with the indigenous Wai Wai community. First they had to find the source of the river in the remote interior of Guyana, cutting a path through previously uncharted jungle. The Essequibo – the largest river between the Orinoco and the Amazon – has treacherous rapids and is home to caimans and piranhas, and the women had to paddle for long days in tropical heat and humidity.

Expedition leader Laura Bingham said: “I am so delighted to have led my all-female team to success in this world first Essequibo expedition.

Deep-rooted passion

“At the heart of our journey was a deep-rooted passion to explore and share, and Inmarsat allowed us to show all the challenges, highlights and hardships as we experienced them.

“By taking our supporters on the journey with us, I hope that we have inspired women everywhere to be courageous and adventurous in their own lives, however they can.”