Photo: Catay/Shutterstock

By the Numbers: Paddling the Niger River

Niger Narrative
by Helen Lloyd Mar 8, 2010
In February, Helen Lloyd and Lars Bengtsson took a break from cycling through Africa. They had local fisherman craft them a six-meter wooden pirogue, then they paddled it down section of the Niger River in Guinea from Faranah to Kouroussa. Here’s the trip broken down by numbers.

Number of days the locals in Faranah thought it would take: 1.5

Number of days we expected it to take: 10-14

Actual days spent paddling on the Niger River: 15

Rest days: 0

Nights spent in a tent: 14

Kilometres travelled by pirogue: 350

Kilometres which we spent out of boat, pushing or dragging it: 50*

Number of times we fell out of pirogue: 3 each

Paddles lost (and found): 4

Number of times we had to unload everything due to capsize and flooding: 2

Nails used to repair boat after crashing into rocks: 4

Number of chants of ‘1, 2, 3, Heave’ when attempting to drag boat in shallow water, over sand: 49*

Hippos seen and successfully avoided: 11

Rocks mistaken for hippo’s head: 27*

Snakes seen swimming: 3

Snakes that crawled under my tent: 1

Chimpanzees seen in the wild: 1

Chimpanzees seen at a rehabilitation sanctuary: 9

Bats seen: 4,751*

Dead cows floating in river: 1

Days without seeing any people: 2

Military officers who mistook us for poachers: 1

Number of times I asked, ‘Lars, did you hear that? in the middle of the night’: 4

Number of times Lars replied: 2

Fish caught: 0

Fresh fish bought: 1

Kilogrammes of pasta eaten: 3.15

Kilogrammes of rice eaten: 1

Kilogrammes of potatoes eaten: 1

Beers drunk: 5

Sunglasses lost: 1

Flip-flops lost or broken: 2 (both the right foot)

Sand-fly and tsetse fly bites: 309*

Millilitres of my blood spilled in my tent by sand-flies: 25*

Beers bought with money from selling boat to local fisherman at end of trip: 8


* Approximation

Community Connection

To learn more about Helen Lloyd and Lars Bengtsson’s adventures and charity ride through Africa, please visit their website,

Please submit By the Numbers submissions to david at

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