Canoeing the Congo: The First Source-to-Sea Descent of the Congo River
By Phil Harwood
Published in 2012
Thibault’s Score: 3/5
I decided to read this book because my brother in law spent some time working in the DRC, and I want to learn more about the country in preparation for my own visit.
This book is a short account of former British royal marine commando and explorer Phil Harwood’s canoe journey from the source of the Congo river to the sea.
His journey starts at one of the many sources of the Congo river in Zambia. He makes his way to Lubumbashi, and from there goes on a half year long canoe journey across the DRC.
Along the way, he faces many dangers: malaria, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, rapids, and waterfalls. More dangerous than nature, are the locals. Hostile tribes where the men are predominantly aggressive bandits and corrupt thieving officials plague his voyage. He also makes a number of friends such as a pentacostal pastor and a family of fishermen with a homemade shotgun who help him along the way.
Overall, I found the book to be a pretty good read. It reminded me of stories that my brother in law has told me over the years about his time in the DRC. However, at some times, Harwood does come off as kinda douchey, especially when he praises himself throughout his book.
Canoeing the Congo is an excellent read for anyone preparing to go to the DRC, or other central African countries, but not good enough that I universally recommend it.
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