Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.

Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.
My 2014 calendar was entirely photographed on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps. "Land in the West" is printed at a size of A4 with twelve calendar month pages displaying stunning outdoor environment photographs. Take a look at my Facebook page to view all twelve 2014 calendar images! Order here via Paypal or email me at zakshawphotography@gmail.com if you would prefer to pay with online banking. Thanks for your support!
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Friday, October 26, 2007

The intensity of India

Image - Walled in. Zak considers the options for escape. Massive gorge on the Supin - Image Ben Jackson.

After two days of patience my kayak arrived and we hit the road. Our first week has been interesting to say the least.
Since leaving the chaos of Delhi and its 12 million occupants weve had it good and bad. On one level its to be expected, its called "adventure kayaking" and there are always going to be things that cant be planned for.

Image Zak Shaw - Packman gets a wake up call "time to go paddling bro"

When I look at my left hand alone and count the 47 inflammed scratches I am certain this week has been hard work. Our week has been filled with picturesque alpine villages, dominating landscapes, classic whitewater, incredibly committing gorges and back breaking portages.

Image - Zak Shaw - Team rest, "Im so ?xx$!!" After 5 hours we reached the ridgeline.

Oct 20th, 11am Ben Jackson launches out and lands flat in airated water off a beautiful 6m drop. That day we completed a two day first descent of the Upper Yamuna upsteam of the village of Sayana Chatti. The gorge was continous in nature and held mostly read and run class four whitewater.

Image - Zak Shaw
The 21st, 5 samosas each and a 150 rupee entrance fee paid we entered the Govind National Park. We headed straight for an incredible canyon on the Supin river, the largest tributary of the Ton's River. Shalab had paddled the gorge in very low water in March and ensured us that the narrow unscoutable passage was "good to go" Feeling good about life we paddled 600m of pushy class five and arrived at the entrance to the gorge. Fresh snow on the mountains meant that the river was flowing high and none of us were prepared to enter into the vertical walled canyon which had no eddies and no oportunties to escape once committed. The result hike/climb/drag out number 1.

Image - Zak Shaw, This is our vehicle for the mission.

We hauled our boats up 400m on bloody steep loose rock, rigging several rope stations to the truck. The positive = 6 kayakers get to eat at least one more curry!

On the 22nd we scouted the Obra gorge, our team split in two in order to cover more ground and get as much information about the river as possible. With its gradient being 80m/km in a carved bedrock gorge and some uncertainty surrounding two big 15 metre waterfalls we walked away despite Shalab unsuring us it was "definately, definately good to go"

Image Zak Shaw, Jakhol village kids
23rd our team and six porters hiked up the Supin/ Harkidun river with overnight gear and camped at a muelbridge/footbridge ready to descent the gorge the following morning.

24th - At 11am Shalab wisely descided the gradient looked to much and began to climb up away from the gorge. 12.30, JJ and Scuba (Steve) didn't feel good about another massive gorge and class five whitewater storming into it. Four miserable hours later they arrived back in camp exhausted.

Team Kiwi along with Packman portaged high above the gorge believing a river descent was still a viable option once the gorge relented.

What actually happened? Six hours of thick undergrowth, no tracks and brutal kayak carrying/dragging up and away from the mayhem.
25th we descide to finally "trust my judgement, not your own" (Shalab) and that we need to be reminded that kayaking is fun. We paddled an 8km section of the Rupin river which was just great.
Image Zak Shaw - JJ enjoys one of the great drops above the Supin gorge.
But its not just about the kayaking. Despite our efforts to pull off big things this week our spirits remain high and much humour has come through our hardship. Our health is stable and stomachs settled (touch wood)
The rural people of Uttaranchal have welcomed us into their villages and slate roofed shacks.
The size of the landscapes in this region are just astounding and so each day is quite amazing in itself.
The Supin, Obra, Rupin and main Tons river catchments all have hydro electric projects planned in the coming years, get here quick!
Stay tuned - Zak Shaw

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doing it Delhi Style!

First things first, our team has managed to elude "Delhi Belly"so far. Having avoided upset stomachs and poor health we are ready to hit the road. The last few days have not been uneventful due to my kayak being forgotten by United Airlines and left in San Francisco. A major "trade show" and "festivals" suddenly came to life as we arrived and caught us all by surprise. None of these activities actually took place we were just victims of some dodgy dealings and were caught out by sly taxi drivers. Their ability to spot the weakened traveler who has flown around the world with a kayak and sell an elaborate plan during the early hours of morning was quite impressive.

We all shared stories of the unusual fees we were asked to pay that night by rickshaw drivers and the not so lucky happenings. After three days my kayak is yet to arrive, Steve has been robbed and Ben had an oncoming rickshaw driver try to snatch his bag needless to say we are eagerly awaiting my kayak's arrival so we can head to the mountains!

Delhi is an overwhelming place. Its high paced chaos hits you in the face twenty four hours a day. Street beggars, constant harassment from from sales men and women, dogs, cows, bikes, flying scooters and rikshaws all josling for space. Everyone is in a hurry with the horn blazing.
In Delhi space doesn't exist.

A typical back street, not alot of room to move!

The best way to get around. Ben Jackson out and about in Delhi.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

India Expedition - our plan

“First and Last Descents Expedition”
Exploratory Whitewater Kayaking Expedition.
Uttaranchal and Arunachal Pradesh, India 2007

Our international team of six whitewater kayakers will arrive and meet in India around October 14th. During a two month expedition period our intention is to descent previously unchartered river catchments in the Himalayan mountains of Uttaranchal and Arunachal Pradesh.
Our team will meet in Delhi before traveling 250 kilometres north into the Himalayas. Our kayaking will commence with three weeks exploring some of the small creeks feeding the Ganges in the neighboring region of Uttranchal situated west of Nepal.
In Kathmandu on November 19th Shalab, Sam and myself will join Mikey Abbott and Allan Ellard (paddlers of super-duper legend status)

We will then travel to the far northeastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh. In this area the Brahmaputra river caves its way off the Tibetan plateau and flows into India and Bangladesh. It’s a region with a plethora of free flowing high elevation rivers. This area is virgin territory in terms of kayaking exploration. Mikey, Shalab and Al are without a doubt the most educated people with regards to exploratory kayaking in India.

Some extra reading...

Our vision in traveling to the rivers of Arunachal Pradesh is to create international exposure in the whitewater community as to the proposed development of hydroelectricity. Our hope is to raise the awareness of what the Indian government has proposed and the weakening of social and environmental guidelines of the World Bank.

The Government of India is committed to a huge acceleration in dam construction. In May 2003, it announced plans to increase the country’s hydropower capacity by 50,000 megawatts by 2013. With 89 dams proposed for the region before 2013 Arunachal Pradesh is soon to experience rapid change.
The severity of the environmental impact these projects present will bring extreme disturbance to precious river ecosystems. Any large-scale diversion of river water will throw the ecological equilibrium out of balance, endangering wildlife and ecosystems as well as livelihoods. Large-scale river diversions change the water chemistry, sedimentation patterns and flow regimes of rivers and can seriously impede their capacity to purify themselves. Their ability to sustain life is then put at risk.
Of major concern is the shaky nature of this geological zone. Earthquakes and landslides are commonplace.

The “Program of Interlinking Rivers” has irreversible consequences. It is quite possible that our first descents of India’s rivers could be the last.

Between the extremes of flood and drought, India is heading for a water crisis. As the third- largest dam builder in the world India has a major history with hydroelectric power. The 4,291 large dams built so far have helped to grow more grains, making the country self-sufficient in food production. Large dams also provide roughly a third of India’s electricity.

In 2012 the Indian government is set begin development of a project titled “Garland of Rivers”, a multinational river-linking project that would connect 37 major rivers through a series of dams and canals spanning the subcontinent. The project is intended to offset devastating regional cycles of drought and flood, provide rural and urban populations with stable supplies of drinking water, and harness some 34,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity. The scope of the Garland of Rivers, which calls for cooperation from neighboring Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan, is unparalleled in Asia;
One ‘garland’ canal, parallel to the Himalayas, would connect most of the northern tributaries of the Ganges as well as the Brahmaputra river system.

But since 1947 – the year India became independent – an estimated 40 million people have been displaced by dam projects. There is no national policy for rehabilitating them and most have landed up as beggars or daily laborers. Millions of hectares of precious natural forest and fertile alluvial farmlands have been buried under reservoirs.
In the region of Arunachal Pradesh alone dams will submerge thousands of hectares of land, including some towns, and displace more than 30,000 people.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Team Profiles India Expedition 2007 (Caliber 2 Burn)

Image - Sam Hughs
Shalab Gahlaut is the authority when it comes to kayaking in India. As the director and lead instructor of "Ganga Kayak School" Shalab is in a league of his own. In a country oozing with whitewater he has covered more ground and explored more rivers than anyone. His level of expertise is unsurpassed in India and is absolutely key to our adventure.
Our team with the exception of Sam (packman) we have not met this man of legendary status and so it is with great excitement we await our expedition start date of October 14th.

Image - Zak Shaw
"Good luck finding someone who makes class 5 look easier"
Introducing JJ Shepherd
I met JJ five years ago in the Mahinapua Tavern (a real family place). The next morning we buckled up and flew into a steep west coast NZ river. That was the start. JJ the ever dependable team member is an absolute class act. On the water and around the campfire with guitar in hand he never ceases to amaze. I look forward to his new material.

Im a sea kayaker from the Arctic. I learn't to roll in Tibet last year and will only survive in India because Ben will be there.
I can't wait to get back to the Himalaya's. Tibet to date is the most inspiring place I've ever kayaked. Huge river catchments and landscapes that dwarf you, its a feeling everyone should experience.
Rumour has it that due to the success of last years Kareoke circuit in Tibet some bars in Delhi have made requests for the 13 ribbon dragon to make an appearance. Shalab is negotiating terms as we speak. The dry air at altitude is a huge factor for most visiting artists, most gig's only happen if refreshments are supplied.
Image - Zak Shaw
This guy well... Ben is the man at the forefront of NZ whitewater kayak instruction. His innovative thoughts and concepts are truly cutting edge. Ben breaks all the rules, the saying "its hard to fly like an eagle when your surrounded by turkeys" does not apply.
Currently Ben Jackson resides in Wellington NZ. He's such a nice guy he descided to reduce government workload and help Helen Clark our NZ Prime Minister. He camps out close to the beehive in order to pick up his welfare benefit up in person. Mrs Clark is his biggest sponsor.
Ben's humour and level headed approach to what we do is second to none. This trip will be a blast, great to have you with us Benny!

Sam Hughs aka Packman won our Movember contest upon arrival into Chendu, China last year. Based in Norway Packman now lives with the "most beautiful girl in Norway" lucky bugger. Inspired by Tintin he has traveled to all corners exploring and photographing life as he see's it. With camera in hand Sam has an exceptional eye for photography - check out www.paclandphoto.com
Keep an eye out for the next expedition beard contest, Packman has probably started his.

Master Bates. Stephen Bates is a High School English Teacher. He carries a posh accent but it comes with a dirty mind and wicked sense of humor. He's smarter than us and just as dirty so our team is not predicting anyone to be out of place.
Ive not met Stephen but if he's anything like Packman or Matt Tidy (UK gentleman) this expedition will be quite pleasant. This image supplied by JJ doesn't really suggest it but if he talks the same and has the immaculate manners I became accustomed to in Tibet "After you", "Be my guest", "Cup of tea old chap" I'm sure things will work out fine.
"Pip pip, Cherio lads"