Monday, August 17, 2009

NOC Adventure Travel Unveils Epic New Trip: Whitewater & Medical Relief Volunteerism in the Bolivian Jungle

We're thrilled to bring you news about our Adventure Travel department's newest trip, the Boaters Without Borders Expedition to Bolivia. Next August, the premier trip of Boaters Without Borders, MedicForce and NOC leaves for the Bolivian jungle and the Rio Tuichi, flowing through Madidi National Park and one of South America's largest tracts of protected land.

To give you an idea of what this is all about, I talked with NOC's head of Adventure Travel and SOLO Wilderness Medicine, Jonathon Bryant. He'll be the expedition leader for this trip.

What is Boaters Without Borders?
Basically, the idea is to provide immediate care and long-term training in isolated areas. Specifically, Boaters Without Boarders is a new series of expedition-based adventures offered by NOC in association with medical relief charity MedicForce. These adventures utilize NOC's years of whitewater expertise with medical relief volunteerism in remote riverside communities around the world. BWB expeditions involve a team of kayakers, medical professionals and expert raft guides, exploring unfamiliar rivers and addressing basic medical conditions in communities along the way.

How did this idea come about?
In 2008, I founded MedicForce as a non-profit organization connecting medicial professionals to remote jungle communities in need of medical care and basic first-aid education. The first expedition was to Borneo, in the South Pacific and I just got back from a second trip there. I've also done a motorcycle ride from here in North Carolina to Guatemala, a little reconnaissance mission, really. I know a lot of kayakers here at NOC who are just as fired up to visit these remote places and lend a hand however possible.

How did you decide on Bolivia?
I read this book about a reed raft expedition on a river in Bolivia. They took the raft from the jungle to the ocean, all via the Amazon. The whole story sounded so amazing, so I though "we need to go here!" When I began researching more about Bolivia, I found Sergio Ballivian, the first guy to navigate the Rio Tuichi in 1995. I'm really psyched to be working with Sergio, he's definitely the guru for the river and the area. 2005 was the last descent of the Tuichi, so it should be really exciting. We'll definitely be pushing the boundaries of kayaking, boating and medical outreach. (Check out this awesome article about Sergio's 2001 descent of the Rio Tuichi.)

What's the trip going to be like?
An expedition, full of adventure and the unexpected. We'll be in Bolivia for 21 days, leaving the capital city of La Paz and traveling overland to the Rio Tuichi. We'll float the Tuichi all the way to its confluence with the Rio Beni, stopping in communities along the way to provide care where needed. There will be hiking, light paddling, extreme paddling and everything in between. I absolutely can't wait.
For complete trip information, click here.

Special Presentation this Sunday
This Sunday, August 23 Jono will give a slide presentation about his most recent trip to Borneo at The Pourover, at NOC’s Nantahala River resort beginning at 7pm. The presentation is titled “Headhunters with Toothbrushes," and is free and open to the public. This year, a team of six medical students, a Malaysian doctor, a dentist and one of the US’s leading eye surgeons from Seattle treated 920 patients, pulled 150 teeth, diagnosed 30 cataracts and prescribed over 200 pairs of glasses in the jungle of Borneo.

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