Round the Outside: PRESS RELEASE
Embargoed until 15h00 (CAT) Wednesday 8th July 2009 South African solo-adventurer Riaan Manser becomes the first person to circumnavigate Madagascar by kayak, alone and unaided Riaan Manser has made history again. On Wednesday the South African solo-adventurer became the first person to circumnavigate Madagascar’s 5000km coastline by kayak, alone and unaided. Eleven months after his departure in August 2008, Manser now stands proudly among the world’s eminent adventurers, having shaken the tag of simply ‘the guy who cycled around Africa’. ‘I never realised how demanding this expedition would be,’ said Manser in May, after being detained on suspicion of being a terrorist. ‘Kayaking Madagascar is exponentially more challenging, both mentally and physically, than Africa ever was.’
From day one Manser has faced the hardships of the real, solo adventurer: the preparation, the searching for a suitable craft, the shipping and visa problems and then the cyclones, surf, storms, distances, tropical disease, muggings, arrests and even a coup d’état!
His home country has seen three Presidents (Mbeki was dethroned two months after his departure) while his host country has witnessed a military take-over that created a power vacuum evident in even the remotest of Malagasy villages. Manser has been sitting on his customised six metre kayak for around eight hours a day averaging between 20 and 30kms per day; with his longest day being 67kms and the shortest three. The constant exposure to salt water and sunshine has literally been pickling his body and at one stage Manser counted an astonishing 23 blisters on his hands.
At the end of each day Manser would either pitch his tent on the shore or even barter for a small hut with the fish he had caught off his kayak. But it was landing the kayak Manser feared the most each day. ‘This isn’t just paddling from cocktail bar to cocktail bar,’ Manser told a radio host recently. Only a small percentage of Madagascar’s coastline resembles the post-cards with parts of the country being similar to the jagged Wild Coast of South Africa. ‘Sometimes I had no choice but to come through eight foot surfing dumping directly on to slabs of barnacled rock,’ says Manser. ‘I just have to hold my breath and let the adrenaline kick in. On several occasions I woke up the following morning flabbergasted at the shorebreak I had come through.’
But for all the hardships Manser has endured he has also witnessed the best Madagascar has to offer, most notably among its marine life. Humpback whales with newborn calves have breached 20m from his kayak; a pod of 200 dolphins has danced ahead of his bow; giant Leatherback turtles examined his boat in person and a shark even rammed the boat, giving Manser whiplash.
Over the next several months Manser will return to South Africa to write his second book ‘Around Madagascar on my kayak’, as well as present his story to the world. According to legendary adventure kayaker, Johan Loots, Manser’s Madagascar expedition should be counted as one of the great feats of human endurance and ‘should go down in the annals of adventure as one of the greatest of all time… the achievement is, quite frankly, nothing short of sensational.’
The media and any other interested parties are invited to welcome Riaan Manser home when he returns to South Africa on Saturday 11th July at 13h00, after which a press briefing will be held at
The Intercontinental Hotel, OR Tambo International Airport. Previous adventure Between 2003 2005 Manser became the first person to cycle the entire perimeter of the African continent – 37,000 kilometres through 34 countries – a journey which took him two years and two months. His resulting book ‘Around Africa on my bicycle’ is a best-seller.
Key Dates 2008
4 July Arrives Antananarivo, Madagascar
16 August Officially departs Tamatave
2 September Arrested for invalid visa
22 September First open ocean crossing – 45kms
21 October Encounters first cyclone of the season, Asma
12 November Rounds most northern point, Cap d’Ambre
16 November Reaches quarter mark, Nosy Mitsio
6 December Reaches Mahajanga – debilitated with foot infection, girlfriend Vasti visits for Christmas, video camera stolen
January Political turmoil erupts in the capital Antananarivo
19 January Two cyclones, Eric and Fanele hit Madagascar
26 January Briefly detained on suspicion of being a mercenary
16 February Reaches half-way mark, north of Maintirano
24 March Cyclone Izilda hits
April Robbed at gunpoint in Tulear
17 May Rounds most southern point, Cap St Marie
23 May Arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist, charged with carrying out mercenary activities. Spends two nights in cell.
25 May Released from police station after intervention by SA Embassy and Madagascar Tourism
31 May Reaches Fort Dauphin, turning almost due north
23 June Entire Manakara police department descends on bungalow, interrogates owner for harbouring a mercenary. Manser’s papers checked and allowed to proceed.
8 July Arrival in Tamatave harbour, completion of ‘Round the Outside’ – 5000kms in 11 months.
11 July 13h00: Arrival at OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg + 14h30: Media Conference at Intercontinental OR Tambo
17 July Arrival at Cape Town International Airport
Photographs and video footage
A selection of photographs and video material is available on request.
Contact For further information or to book interviews, please contact Seamus Reynolds of Africanborn Media firstname.lastname@example.org!