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Adventurers & Explorers

Feb 26, 2018

One of the Fathers of Modern Exploration, Folco Quilici, Passes at 87

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WRITTEN BY

Lorenzo Fornari

Entire generations around the world were inspired by his documentaries and photos, alas, early this Saturday morning Folco Quilici passed away in Umbria, Italy.

Explorer, documentarist, photographer, novelist, screenwriter, he was not only Oscar-nominated for one of his documentaries, but also named by Forbes as one of the most influential writers in the world for his environmental and scientific contributions. He was commonly referred to as the “Cousteau of Italy” (who also passed at 87).

From a very early start Folco Quilici, born in 1930 of Emma Buzzacchi, artist painter, and Nello Quilici, an influential Italian journalist, had a whirlwind childhood. His father was shot down by friendly-fire in 1940 along with the heir-apparent of Mussolini, Italo Balbo, whom he was accompanying to Italian-held Libya. For years Folco was torn by this sudden loss and by the subsequent decades of conspiracy theories that revolved around the incident.

The last 4 pages of his personal diary, recovered from the wreckage, that were torn out before it was returned to the family, kept him asking questions that would never be answered.

The journalist pedigree and the unrelenting energy to ask questions, given his father’s death in suspicious circumstances, gave way to Folco starting a lifetime dedicated to exploration and documentation. Almost from the start, at barely 22 years old, in 1952, he set out with world champion diver Raimondo Bucher, and his wife, to the Red Sea to document underwater life.

In doing so, he directed the world’s first color full-length nature-documentary film, Sesto Continente (The Sixth Continent) which was released in 1954. For reference, Cousteau’s award-winning documentary, Le Monde du Silence (The Silent World), was released shortly after, in 1956.

While he was best known for this debut accomplishment and often associated to the sea, his real passion was mountains and would travel and document every range, as well as every other possible location in the world, over the next sixty years. From documenting the last cannibal tribes in New Guinea to some of the remotest villages in the Amazon, he took more than a million pictures over the course of his lifetime.

The Last Cannibal. New Britain – 1971 Photo: Folco Quilici Photo: Copyright Folco Quilici-Fondazione Alinari

Like any world-renown explorer of his caliber, he was just as at home in a 4 Seasons hotel in NYC or on a haystack under the stars on a river in the middle of Zaire. During Folco’s “30,000 days” (more like 32,000 if we consider he was just a couple months shy of 88) on this planet and considering the lengths he’d go to in order to realise his documentaries and fulfil his assignments, even in the most remote and austere environments, he had numerous brushes with death.

Once in Turkey, he ran out of air while diving and was eventually rescued by an US Navy submarine. Again whilst diving, in the Maldives this time, he was swept away by an underwater current and was feared dead, only to be found days later on a deserted island on the brink of death from exposure.

Folco reading the article about the Volvo Ocean Race in The Outdoor Journal magazine – Photo: Kevin Pineda

I personally had the privilege of learning much of what I know today about scuba diving and underwater fauna thanks to a Summer aboard his ship in Greece when I was about twelve years old. Along with my father, I dived alongside him and his family, who are also explorers and conservationists, learning from one of the most generous and light-hearted people I’ve ever come across.

Between research dives and exploration, hopping from island to island in the Greek archipelago with his perpetually problematic boat, the Yavanos, we would document the local fauna, formations, and even wrecks. We would play with curious dolphins, catch and prepare octopus as well as bake giant groupers in salt crusts within makeshift stone ovens on the beach of whatever little bay we’d find ourselves in for the night. Under starlit skies I heard my first shooting star, so big and close, it literally ‘swooshed’ overhead.

One day while I was on anchor duty, I discovered a shipwreck a dozen meters below where we planned to set anchor. After further inspection we tried to recover some large brass fittings. Despite our best efforts, we didn’t manage to recover anything from the depths below but we did come away with a great “Indiana Jones” story. As recognition for my find I did, however, get to listen to the shared walkman for an extra ninety minutes the next day. Life is easier at 12.

Folco directed 22 films and wrote more than 25 books, won medals and awards from around the world, like the Silver Bear from the Berlin Film Festival, and directed dozens of nature and cultural full-length TV series. Most importantly, though, he inspired millions of people to travel, discover, and care for our planet.

Folco speaks with Lorenzo Fornari in an interview for The Outdoor Journal – Photo: Kevin Pineda

In a recent, and possibly last, interview (currently in production) with us at The Outdoor Journal, we asked if he had a favorite destination.

Folco: I have a special place in my heart for India, I spent a year documenting the country in the 60s, but right now I’d like to just visit some nice little Meditteranean village… if such a thing exists anymore.

Lorenzo: Where would you want to explore next? 

Folco: I find it fascinating, or paradoxical rather, that we’re sending probes to the farthest reaches of space, but we don’t know what’s right here beneath our own oceans.

Lorenzo: You’ve been in the center of modern nature documentary filmmaking, arguably one of the founders of it, what do you see and feel is the future of the environment and media?

Folco: People are informed about what’s happening to our environment, maybe even too much, but they take little or no action. I feel media does their job, but in the end, it is a cultural problem. Individuals don’t take responsibility for their behavior. I see it around me, people are becoming tired of hearing about environmental problems all the time. Nothing or little has been done in the end. Alas, we have to persist, even double our efforts, to keep informing everyone. It’s better than nothing.

This is only a part of the interview we had with Folco Quilici. When we left him a few months ago, he was working on a book about his travels and favorite places in Sicily. To the very end, he gave everything to his passion of travel and exploration.

A legend has indeed left us.

Folco Quilici Photo: Di Folco Quilici

Stay in touch with us to stay informed of when the full interview with Folco will be published and to stay informed on international adventure stories and news. Feel free to follow and like us on our Facebook and Instagram as well, we love to share only the best and highest quality content.

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

 

“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”

 

For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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