Weekend Warm-Up: Unplanned and Unburdened in ‘Africa By Kayak’

Beau Miles is one of those people who can’t help himself. Adventurers who maintain just enough contact with reality to barely hold on.

Does that sound overstated? Watch him plan out a 4,000km paddle around South Africa on a Risk gameboard.

a man pointing to a gameboard, seated on the grass

Photo: Screenshot


“About 3, 3 ½ Australias fit inside the African continent,” he says, studying the board.

He proceeds to plan his next trip.

Did everything go as planned? To take it from Miles’ paddling partner, Jarrod Sharples, there would be no way to tell.

headshot of a man with a bridge in the background

Photo: Screenshot


“I haven’t really thought too much about what we’re going to come across on the whole trip. It’s more that I’m going to meet Beau in South Africa and then we’re going to go for a paddle,” he says. “That’s about as much thought as I’ve given it.”

Catch the wave on this one and don’t feel like you need to bail. Miles commands an endearing flair, and he’s in full form in South Africa.

examining a hairy mass stuck to a road surface

Photo: screenshot


The action is moderate. Weather introduces challenges; locals provide various comforts; suspicious authorities become involved.

Then authorities save the day. A 20-year tide can only delay Miles — not wash him away — but when his 20-cent sardines-in-tomato-sauce run out, he’s high and dry with no hope of escape. Camped in a “wind tunnel” of brush in the dunes, he simply watches the huge waves swallow the beach he’s pinned behind.

He sends up the bat signal, more practical than resigned.

Whatever you think of Miles’ attitude when he calls off the trip at the halfway point is up to you. But if you heard him tell the story in some wind-lashed beach bar on a given afternoon, I’m confident it — like this film — would feel right in character.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.