Recognised for his unique coupling of philosophy and adventure, Hendri Coetzee was a true African explorer, a modern day incarnation of the 19th Century mould of Livingston, Stanley, Baker, Burton and Speke.
Already trained as a South African Special Forces medic, Coetzee qualified as a raft guide on the Zambezi in 1998. He rafted and guided trips on rivers in ten different countries; seven of which are in Africa. Hendri led a four-month rafting expedition along the entire length of the world’s longest river, the Nile. In 2008, he developed an adventure therapy program for the Norwegian Government and took youth offenders along the Nile from its source in Uganda into South Sudan.
As his career progressed, Coetzee found a more spiritual connection to Nature in his solo expeditions. He walked along the East African Coastline from Mombassa to the Rufigi River, a distance of over one thousand kilometers. Later, in 2009 he spent six months alone in the Congolese wilderness.
Nature, both human and wild mesmerised Coetzee. Experiences were paired with academic and spiritual endeavors. He nurtured his thirst for knowledge through an honors degree in Psychology from the University of South Africa and a three-month meditation course in Thailand. Coetzee’s unique perspective comes as a product of unparalleled experiences. His account of an unsupported solo-kayaking mission in Uganda’s largest national nark was published in African Veins (2004). His last expedition was documented through his blog entitled The Great White Explorer, which at present has registered almost ninety thousand hits.
Hendri Coetzee’s message is timeless and his legacy will continue to live beyond the instant he was taken by a crocodile on the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Coetzee’s story does not end with the last paddle strokes of December 7, 2010. His ripple effect is seen through inspiration, derived from a simple philosophy: The best day ever!