In 2018, British explorer Laura Bingham led a world-first expedition to the source of the Essequibo River in Guyana, along with fellow adventurers Ness Knight and Pip Stewart, then kayaked the length of the river back down to the Atlantic Ocean. As a new mother, Laura felt compelled to do something extraordinary to maintain her hard-earned status as an adventurer. During her 72-day challenge, she encountered rapids, waterfalls and venomous snakes, and documented the whole thing on a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.*
The Essequibo River is the largest in Guyana and third-largest in all of South America, stretching over 1,000 kilometres from source to mouth as it meanders through dense rainforest and open plains. It acts as a lifeline for the indigenous Wai Wai people, who assisted Laura and her team on their journey, as well as to all kinds of wildlife including the elusive jaguar. For 72 days it supported Laura too: she slept in a hammock on its banks, alongside three-metre-long predatory caiman, and fished in it for sustenance.
While remaining focused on the physical and emotional challenge of completing the journey, Laura and her team set out to tell a story of human endurance and sustainable, self-powered travel. They were accompanied by a photographer and filmmaker for sections of the journey, but had to rely on their own shooting skills and three Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark IIs to document the more private moments direct to camera.**
Here we find out what it takes to vlog an adventure when you’re exhausted, what kit will stand up to the challenge, and why it’s important to devote time to telling your story.
"After my husband" – fellow adventurer and TV presenter Ed Stafford – "and I had our son, I was scared of losing my identity. I was scared that all of my adventures would be forgotten and remain in the past as I became absorbed in being a mother. I spoke to Ed about this and he casually said, 'The Essequibo has never been done before, and it’s amazing – like a Disney jungle.' As soon as I heard the words 'Disney' and 'never been done before', I said, 'Thanks for the idea, it's mine now!' Laughing with excitement, I ran away from him and went straight into the office to start researching."
"Ness, Pip and I all have similar motives for adventure – we really enjoy human-powered experience. We were trying to highlight the benefits of sustainable, alternative travel while also challenging ourselves physically. "We were also there to highlight the consequences of human impact on the environment. The river started in virgin rainforest, but as we progressed it cut through parts of the rainforest that humans had touched through mining and logging. In these places the water went from clean to putrid – human faeces and rubbish littered the water, and we all developed rashes and abscesses on our bodies. It was important for us to document this as thoroughly as we could."