We don’t often blog about Africa, or whitewater kayaking, for that matter, but upon learning of this spectacular kayaking feat and the film that documents it, we couldn’t resist. Last January filmmaker Steve Fisher followed three whitewater kayakers on their successful attempt to run the Inga Rapids on the Congo River, rated as the biggest single rapids on the planet.
The following article appears on paddling.net:
“That’s the closest I’ve come to dying in my life,”
“This is a river like no other and these rapids were a big step more difficult than we’d anticipated,” says Fisher. “When the early explorers wrote that these rapids are unnavigable, and that any attempt on them would be pure insanity, they were dead right. We may have succeeded, but their statements are still accurate. In fact, we all agreed that if we attempted them again, we wouldn’t fancy our chances.”
It wasn’t the new products that stole the whitewater crowd’s hearts at this year’s Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Salt Lake City. It was the world premiere of Congo, produced by Red Bull Media House, in association with Fish Munga Productions.
The film follows Fisher and company on a first descent of The Inga Rapids, a deadly stretch of whitewater billed as the world’s highest volume rapids at over 1.6 million cfs (that’s not a typo).
Part documentary, part whitewater porn, Congo follows Fisher and his elite team (in September Marr became the first person to run Size Zed on British Columbia’s Stikine River) as they struggle to navigate the complicated logistical challenges and crooked politics of the DRC, and then the world’s most dangerous whitewater in their historic first descent. The 50-mile section of the Congo they ran has claimed the lives of numerous explorers and has been considered unrunable for centuries.
During their epic five-day descent of the Inga Rapids, the team encountered 40-foot breaking waves, deadly whirlpools, semi truck-sized hydraulics, and rapids 30 times larger than those found on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
At one point, Fisher got held under water so long in a whirlpool that he thought he was a goner. “That’s the closest I’ve come to dying in my life,” he says.
To capture the action, Fisher and his team used kayak- and helmet-mounted Contour POV cameras and were constantly shadowed by a team of three air- and land-based cameramen. The result: a paddling flick that belongs in your library.
CONGO: The Grand Inga Project is available on Blu-ray™, DVD and iTunes. Info: www.ingaproject.com .