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Thursday, February 23,2012

Taken

A seasoned explorer vanishes on an African expedition

By Traci Hukill

Hendrik Coetzee was not a man easily dominated. After he led the first expedition from the source of the Nile in Uganda to the Mediterranean — a 4,100mile trip he undertook in 2004 to show the humanitarian situation in that part of the world — some people griped that he hadn’t started at the true source of the storied river. The next year he traveled the extra 465 miles from Kagera to Lake Victoria to silence his critics.

Coetzee, nicknamed Kadoma, also kayaked solo down Murchison Falls on the Nile, which looks like Jaws on a river, a feat so daunting that pro kayakers-turned-filmmakers Ben Stookesberry of Mt. Shasta, Calif., and Chris Korbulic of Rogue River, Ore., didn’t even consider it. With Coetzee as their guide, they were set on

attempting the first kayaking expedition down the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a feat documented in their film Kadoma and reported in Outside magazine in 2011.

The trip is fraught with difficulties of a bureaucratic nature and the danger posed by armed guerrilla

factions waging a nasty civil war. Still, the three encounter the welcoming generosity of villagers in locations so remote the nearest telephone is 80 miles away.

One hundred miles into their 120-mile journey down the Lukuga, tragedy strikes the trio. Maybe the most haunting thing about it is how it comes at midday, amid surreal calm that swallows up disaster as if it had never even existed.

Kadoma (NR; 42 min.) screens Tuesday at the Boulder Theater as part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Proceeds will benefit the CU Outdoor Program and Boulder Mountainbike Alliance. Tickets are available online at www.bouldertheater.com and at REI.

Traci Hukill is editor of the Santa Cruz Weekly. Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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