SunLive – Angolan Kayak Adventure Kiwi Screen Debut
It’s one thing to have a river trying to kill you; Raging torrents of West African whitewater, on a stretch never paddled before and unlikely to be paddled again.
Add in an intense crocodile infestation, armed militants and one of the highest rates of landmines thrown in the world and the full picture of Bay of Plenty adventurer Mike Dawson for paddling the Kwanza River in Angola begins to unfold. unwind.
For the first time, two-time Olympian Dawson is presenting his film Kwanza: Angola’s Drowning Diamond to New Zealand audiences, with five screenings across the country over the next month.
It tells the story of an expedition to Angola in 2018, where Dawson, South African Dewet Michau and British paddler Jake Holland traveled through the heart of the war-torn nation, battling merciless weather conditions and miles. of uncharted terrain to become some of the early kayakers. to discover the perilous rapids of the Keve and Kwanza rivers.
“I paddled some pretty scary places, but what set this trip apart was the incredible uncertainty,” Dawson says.
“It wasn’t just about going down a river and loading up rapids – it involved crossing an entire continent for a week, in a country that’s pretty fragmentary at best, chasing epic rapids that we didn’t. didn’t even know existed yet.
“There were so many other variables, with intense isolation and pretty robust wildlife, and the potential for disaster was really real, but in the end it was about throwing all our cards away and just sending it over. . “
Part of the urgency was the desire to document the Kwanza River before it ceased to exist in its natural state; five hydroelectric dams have already entered, with construction of the last two starting around the time the paddlers left.
“They were getting ready to divert the water intake in a section of the dam site while we were sailing, which was quite confusing.
The 21-day trip produced over 600 hours of footage, which Dawson and fellow editor Steven Freitag painstakingly transformed into a 30-minute feature film.
It features breathtaking scenery and incredible footage, like when Michau and Holland nearly succumbed on the first day of paddling the Kwanza.
“As they barred the river it created intense concentrations of crocodiles in the flat sections between the dams and we were trying to avoid one of those flat sections by blindly falling into a channel that looked fine.
“It wasn’t – Dewet and Jake got thrown in a dirty pocket and everything changed at that point. Jake swam frantically towards the shore as his gear was carried downstream into a pool that appeared to be infested. of crocodiles and only then we could get out of Dewet., running a massive thunderstorm that appeared on the horizon.
“Although unbelievably shaken, we had no choice but to keep descending, not relaxing for a second with the hairs on our necks stinging at the slightest ripple or noise.”
Kwanza: Angola’s Drowned Diamond will premiere in Rotorua on May 27, with further screenings in Tauranga, Auckland, Christchurch and Wanaka over the next fortnight.
The film will screen alongside New Zealand freestyle skier Janina Kuzma’s equally dramatic Peace Mountain – her story of skiing on Mount Hermon, a mountain on the border of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
May 27: Rotorua
May 28: Tauranga
June 5: Auckland
June 8: Christchurch
June 10: Wanaka
Tickets are available here: https://www.eventcreate.com/e/kwanza