“The rivers of the world have shaped the very existence of humans and the ecosystems in which they live.”

After spending the last 20 years paddling on rivers and oceans across the planet, the Buenos Aires-based Australian/Austrian expedition paddler Mark Kalch is currently undertaking the 7 Rivers 7 Continents project: he paddles down the longest river on each continent from source to sea. A combined distance of 36,000km. Not only because he’s adventurous – he was recently named by Men’s Journal magazine as one of the world’s 50 Most Adventurous Men – but more because of his fascination about the life that rivers have built and sustain. These rivers have shaped the very existence of humans and the ecosystems in which we live.


Mark hopes that this project will provide a unique insight in the remarkable connection between us and our planet. He’s an amazing example of what being aware of your own resourcefullness can teach you paddling down the rivers of the earth also means that he needs to look for his own accommodation and food every single day. This implies and requests a continious process of self reflection. Mark knows where he’s coming from, he knows where he wants to end up, the only thing he has to do is to make smart choices every step of the way. This process  is a journey on its own. Seeing the planet’s enormity and diversity as too magical to ignore, paddling this world’s biggest and longest rivers allows Mark to communicate its wonders in an extraordinary fashion. He aims to bring these stories to life. Stories which he will share with the TEDxMaastricht audience on 12 October.

Being adventurous obviously isn’t rocket science but more of a way of life for Mark. Over the last 10 years he has been working in the outdoor and adventure industry as a guide and a sponsored athlete and has led sea kayaking expeditions on the Great Barrier Reef, guided on the Orange River on the South African/Namibian border and taken clients to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

 

So far Mark has already completed the descents along the Amazon, Missouri-Mississippi and the Volga and with four descents to go, he’s on a roll. His descent of the Missouri-Mississippi River was the first one in history where someone paddled down a river all the way from source to sea and the Volga descent was the very first solo descent ever made. Off river he has walked alone across the entire Islamic Republic of Iran, he has been nominated twice in the Canoe and Kayak Magazine Awards and as an Australian Adventurer of the Year. He was also nominated in the prestigious Award of the Russian Geographical Society. Not to mention the number of times he has been published in numerous magazines.

Thanks to his achievements Mark has created a way to share his view on the world. While we all seem to get increasingly separated from nature and our neighbours across the world, paddling gives him the ability to become a part of it again and uncover the simple yet powerful stories that emanate from them.

Are you looking forward to listen to Mark’s inspiring talk as much as we are? Join us on Monday 12 October!

Anique Strijthaegen

TEDxMaastricht communications