PIONEERING EXPLORER - 4 WORLD FIRSTS
In this day & age of the 21st century one would think that all credible world first explorations have been done... but they haven’t. The past twelve years, Riaan Manser has re-written the definition of tenacity & become the epitome of courage & determination.
Manser rose to prominence on becoming the first person to cycle around the perimeter of Africa. For over twenty four months, alone & unaided, he pedalled a staggering 37,000 km through 34 countries, some of which rank as the most dangerous countries on Earth. Manser’s achievement earned him the title “OutThere Adventurer of the Year 2006” & his book, “Around Africa on my Bicycle”, became a bestseller.
During Riaan’s journey he was imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea & was held captive by drugged teenage rebels in Liberia. Both occasions he secured his release through his charm, amicable personality & exceptional powers of persuasion.
Along the way Manser ate some exotic dishes such as monkey, bat, camel & rat.
As if cycling the perimeter of the continent wasn’t enough, he also climbed Mt Kilimanjaro & descended to Lake Assal, the highest & lowest points on the continent.
On seeing Riaan’s story on television, Nelson Mandela personally requested a meeting with Manser, saying it was “a performance that will inspire the youth of the continent”. The Explorer’s Club in New York - whose members include the first man to reach the North Pole, the first to reach the South Pole, the top of Everest, the deepest point in the ocean & the first man on the moon – extended a special invitation to Manser to speak before its illustrious organisation.
In July 2009, Manser set another world first when he became the first person to circumnavigate Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, by kayak - also alone & unaided.
This colossal journey, which saw him paddle 5000km in eleven months, was, he said, considerably more demanding, both physically & mentally. Conquering extreme loneliness whilst enduring treacherous conditions like pounding seas, cyclones & an unrelenting sun which, combined with salt water, almost pickled him alive.
During his circumnavigation he had many memorable close encounters with Madagascar’s marine life – humpback whales breaching metres away from his kayak, giant leatherback turtles gliding alongside him & even having his boat rammed by a shark.
Riaan travelled around Madagascar during a period of extreme political turmoil & he landed up in prison 5 times, the last time being 3 nights on suspicion of carrying out mercenary activities. In April 2010, Manser’s efforts were rewarded with his second accolade, “OutThere Adventurer of the Year 2009” & “Around Madagascar on my Kayak”, his book recounting his amazing feat, also received acclaim.
March 2011 saw Riaan begin his next challenge. This time he took on mystical Iceland & her arctic waters with a handicapped partner who has mild cerebral palsy. “Around Iceland on Inspiration” saw the two paddle 2300km to circumnavigate Iceland in a double sea-kayak over a five month period.
Manser’s warm-up for Iceland included living & touring South Africa in a refrigeration container for a week. He decided to do this to raise funds for his trust ‘No Food for Lazy Man™’ which buys sports equipment for underprivileged children, as well as to help him prepare for Icelandic temperatures. However it could never have prepared Manser for the snow he encountered upon landing in Iceland. Manser & other team members had never seen snow before, & in the first few days before they started their journey there were many snow-fights.
Landings were another of the pair’s biggest challenges. Approaching rocky shores that are being pounded by wind & surf is a hazardous business. Between timings & luck, you’re a second away from disaster at any moment. Their landings were made even more difficult because of their “sea-legs” which they’d develop after a long day’s paddle of 8 - 10 hours. Often, even the softest landings would result in them spluttering & crawling for a few moments on the black sand on all fours after tumbling out of the boat during the landing.
On 5 September 2011, after 147 paddling days, blistered & aching, they arrived back at their starting point, their circumnavigation complete.
AFRICA TO NORTH AMERICA
Riaan has always vowed that he would never expose his girlfriend of 14 years, Vasti, to the dangers of his world; but now the dynamic couple made history by taking on the vast waters of the Atlantic. Alone & unaided they endured a three months & two weeks crossing from Agadir, Morocco & landed in Miami, Florida on the 7th of May. Their final destination, the Statue of Liberty in New York. Not only did they make history by being the only people to have rowed from mainland Africa to mainland North America, but Vasti also became the only woman from the African continent to have rowed across any of the world’s oceans.
The couple, who met in Cape Town in 1999, put their relationship on the line. Enduring giant 25 foot waves in wild storms to being entirely capsized in the middle of the Atlantic. On one of these days Manser was dramatically separated from the boat & almost lost at sea. The physical hardships had their bodies, hands, arms, bums & legs in permanent agony.
As one of the world’s leading adventurers he has captivated thousands of people through his bestselling books & motivational talks; worldwide. Manser takes a personal approach inspiring an audience. He allows the audience to decide for themselves with which attitude they are going to take on life’s challenges. Through his message of Courage, Perseverance & Attitude, he guides the audience to the realization that being average is just not good enough.
His tales are of adventure without the luxury of a panic button. No excuses to give up. Tales of real life threatening situations which; according to him; makes an adventure a real adventure.
Thousands of people from blue-chip companies to community projects & from schools to non-governmental organisations, have been moved by Riaan’s extraordinary, & often hilarious, tales of perseverance & unrelenting resolve. Manser speaks passionately about his adventures, motivating & inspiring all who attend his presentations.