Canoeing the Congo : The First Source-to-sea Descent of the Congo River, Paperback Book

Canoeing the Congo : The First Source-to-sea Descent of the Congo River Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


At 2,922 miles, the Congo is the eighth longest river and the deepest in the world, with a flow rate second only to the Amazon.

Ex-Marine Phil Harwood embarked on an epic solo journey from the river's true source in the highlands of Zambia through war-torn Central Africa.

With no outside help whatsoever he faced swamps, waterfalls, man-eating crocodiles, hippos, aggressive snakes and spiders' webs the size of houses.

He collapsed from malaria, and was arrested, intimidated and chased.

On one stretch, known as 'The Abattoir' for its history of cannibalism and reputation for criminal activity, the four brothers he hired as bodyguards were asked by locals, 'Why haven't you cut his throat yet?' But he also received tremendous hospitality from proud and brave people long forgotten by the Western world, especially friendly riverside fishermen who helped wherever they could on Phil's exhilarating and terrifying five-month journey.

Author's documentary film of the journey, available on his website, won several awards and went on tour in North America with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Expeditions
  • ISBN: 9781849534000

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Recommend this for anyone with an interest in outdoor adventure in Africa, but not as an introduction. It could been a better book, given the material and journey. On the plus side I was able to follow the trip with Google Earth and could see the territory and rapids he went through which was very satisfying, even if Harwood doesn't describe them very much you can still view it yourself in detail. I now have a basic sense of the river I didn't have before. As well the people who live at subsistence levels. In a lawless land beset by war and poverty there is a desperation that creates a sort of common every day evil that wore Harwood down and I suspect hardened him from really being able to enjoy the trip. He even says at one point Congo would be a great place if not for the people (the bad ones). Nevertheless he says most were good people.

Also by Phil Harwood