Brett Rogers, an explorer, adventurer and videographer, travels to some of the world’s most storied, dangerous and intriguing waterways. And, he does it all under human or natural power. He is one of Kensington Tours "Explorers in Residence" and leads expeditions along the Ganges river in India.
Here are his thoughts about why he loves to travel on the water. He says it's because of the discoveries he makes along the way. He adds, "Travel with a mind open to everything and closed to nothing."
Exploration on water is an unparalleled experience. People today are so used to just getting someplace, whether it be by hopping on a plane or jumping in a car, it’s about getting to the destination and not about the journey. Exploring the world’s waterways, however, it’s not about the fastest time or plotting most efficient course, but rather about the discoveries possible along the way.
Traveling on the river, for me, is the closest thing to traveling back in time. Rivers, in many cases, were the lifeline of civilizations and exploration, which is perhaps nowhere more evident than the Ganges in India. I traveled down this holy waterway with Kensington Tours and experienced life as it likely was thousands of years ago. The Ganga is deeply connected to the people that live on its shores and is deeply imbedded in their culture and religion. I witnessed a different India along its curving path, rather than the loud, chaotic country many see, life on the Ganges is often quieter and peaceful. We took our time traveling in a small wooden boat, stopping to explore remote villages and befriend the curious Indians gathering on the banks. One moment we were bowing our heads to the sound of sacred death rituals being performed and the next moment we would be mixing with the local people, sharing smiles when language barriers proved too strong.
Things are not always that peaceful on my journeys, however, and often times I faced unanticipated challenges. During an expedition on the Yukon River in Alaska, my crew and I were floating on a giant wooden raft for the Bering Seas. On our 97th days we were shocked to discover a dead body lodge under the raft. We later found out it was a fugitive on the run from the law who had likely drown trying to cross the river a week earlier in a canoe.
I urge travelers to re-think their journeys and consider one by water, where it’s about the experience rather than the destination. Besides the desire, would be river goers should pack lots of patience and a backup plan, along with the courage and open-mindedness to embrace opportunities as they present themselves. For me this has been anything from unexpectedly listening to the blues in a juke joint off the Mississippi River to partaking in the funeral for a celebrated Native Chief in the arctic. Even if you’re not an intrepid traveler, journeys via waterways can truly be life-changing adventures. In short, I preach a mind open to everything and closed to nothing.
Brett Rogers leads expeditions along the Ganges. The Explorers in Residence series at Kensington Tours has a number of unusual trips and expeditions.
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