Thursday, March 24, 2011

PAUL CONNOLLY - River Man of Africa and Modern Day Explorer in the footsteps of Dr Livingstone

Paul Connolly (55) is one of Africa's most extraordinary adventure personalities. A noted solo explorer of the raw and darkest places of Africa he is a genuine modern day Dr David Livingstone.

Paul was born and grew up in remote bush areas of Zimbabwe. Though he attended university, and qualified as a lawyer, this career was short-lived as he quickly tired of the stresses of city life and yearned to return to his beloved natural world.

For the past 20 years home has been Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where he lives today with his wife Marie. Paul's most regular path is paddling a canoe on the legendary Zambezi River. A man of inspired passion for nature and this great river he is also an academic of high stature on all matters concerning global adventure and exploration.
Add to this the bountiful possession of charismatic delivery and one quickly appreciates why so many rate him as among the finest motivational speakers on the planet. His auditorium is not the air-conditioned conference room.

He is most at home and at his inspirational best when sitting round a remote campfire, or during breakfast on a Zambezi island, and talking animatedly about such topics as "Africa's Great Explorers", "The British Empire and why you should be proud to be British", "The Zambezi, the greatest river in the world", "My Solo Adventure through the Congo, the heart of darkness", "African Elephants - to Cull or not to Cull?"; "Exploring the source to mouth of the Zambezi", "Mary Kingsley, a British Woman who rates amongst the greatest explorers" and so much more.

In addition Paul keeps his audiences spellbound with a treasure trove of his own real-life stories of Africa - being attacked by a fully-grown leopard in his own home; running into a pride of lionesses while training on a bush road; etc, etc. With a mind as focused and as strong as any man's could ever be he sets himself increasingly formidable challenges in life. At the age of 40 he was the second fastest sculler in all of Africa and thus qualified for the Olympics - a sensational feat considering his age and also that he trained solo on the Zambezi River with a .45 revolver around his waist to ward off crocodiles and hippo.

His solo kayak trip up the fearsome and uncharted Luapula River in the dark Congo was a three-week nightmare where he often had to hack his way through the jungle and where one night he thought he had encountered the remnants of a cannibalistic tribe. This trip was done without money, compass, camera, maps or any other means of guide or communication. It was done for his own soul and to experience what the great explorers like Livingstone might have experienced more than 150 years ago.

When Clint Eastwood made his movie at Victoria Falls it was Paul – who pioneered rafting on the Zambezi on the Zimbabwe side - who was his mentor and guide on the Zambezi River.

Since turning 50 the zest for life's challenges continues unabated. Within a week of reaching that milestone he proclaimed his next summit - to break the world masters record (50-55 age group) on the track for 800 metres. That is the measure of this remarkable man. It is not enough to attempt to qualify for the Masters even in his own country or to be satisfied with merely taking part, or perhaps even striving to win.

Such is his confidence and his aspirations that he sets out to break the world record. After training solo around the school grounds at Victoria Falls (where he had to beat off some worrisome baboons at times) Paul incurred an injury that kept him out of the world masters championships in Germany, but he fully intends to be back to attain his goal. However, when he recovered - and without full training - he did gain the consolation of winning the South African Masters 800 metres championship in Durban.

For an international incentive group to go on a canoe trip down the Zambezi with Paul Connolly and then to listen to his fascinating stories and talks is indeed one of life's rich memories and always a significant highpoint of any programme. A further dimension for real adventurers may be added with an overnight camp under canvas with Paul deep in the remote African bush.

When your group has been with Paul Connolly they know they have been with someone special who has enriched their lives. We are indeed proud that Paul Connolly works on an exclusive basis with Green Route for all his out of the ordinary trips.

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