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A LIFE OF ADVENTURE
 

Memnia is a keen traveller and adventurer. In 2016 she became the first, and so far only, Cypriot to have sailed from the UK to Australia as part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Since then, she’s taken part in other unique adventures, like crossing the whole of Costa-Rica from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean under human power and trekking the frozen Zanskar River in an isolated part of the Indian Himalayas, in extremely low temperatures.

She has travelled to almost 50 countries and she is keen on outdoors sports. Apart from sailing, she loves scuba diving and SUP, trekking, attempted surfing (with no much success), jumped out of a plane (with parachute), and occasionally enjoys cycling.

You can find more information about her recent adventures below.

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Sailing from the UK to Australia
 

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A journey that started with a leap of faith and a visceral need to escape the ordinary and find myself. Soon after the application, I was training for the adventure of a lifetime. 

The preparation lasted 4 intense weeks, filled with compacted knowledge, constant practicing, and relentless shift patterns, so the crew would get used to the off-watch/on-watch sleeping pattern we would have on board for the next months.

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We had to start from scratch, learning the names of the lines, the names of the sails and the positions on the boat. Moving on, we learned how to actually live on a moving yacht. Cooking for 20 people three times a day was a real challenge and sleeping tied up on suspended bunk beds was no fun either. We had no other choice but to learn how to get on with it.

The fist crossing, from the UK to Brazil, was the easiest one. It certainly didn’t seem so at the time, but looking back it was a smooth introduction to what ocean sailing is all about. Four weeks of mostly tropical heat and sudden squalls was the foundation of putting into practice what we’d learn on training. We were all more than excited about getting to know life at sea and each other. 

The second Atlantic crossing was an abrupt transition to more Southern Ocean material. Where we thought the adventure would gradually become more challenging, we were thrown in the deep end, instantly finding ourselves fighting with tall waves, increasing our layering with each day and we forgetting what “showering” meant.  The stopover in Cape Town came at the right time to recuperate and prepare for the big one…

Crossing part of the Southern Ocean, from Cape Town to Australia, was one of the most surreal experiences I will ever have in my lifetime. Unhindered by any landmass, the bulk of water can build into waves as tall as towers, powerful enough to push a 70-yacht forward with jaw dropping speeds. The freezing air that blew from Antarctica burnt the back of our throats, the rain dropped with such a force that it felt it was piercing our eyes, our knuckles turning white from holding on the helm so tight in an effort to command the boat. These were all experiences that shaped me into the stronger, more confident version of myself. When I stepped on land, I almost cried with relief. Looking back to the Southern Ocean we’d just crossed, I knew I’d never be the same person again.

Going round Australia and taking part in the iconic Sydney Hobart Race was an added bonus to the whole race and another incredible experience to cherish. Watching 100 stunning yachts heading off into the Tasman Sea, some of them amongst the most expensive, sleek yachts of the planet, was a surreal experience. When only 70% of them reached our destination in Hobart, due to damages caused by bad weather, it made me realise what our own boats and crew were made of.

Enjoy the pictures of my journey of a lifetime and if you’d like me to share my experience to your next event, please feel free to contact me!

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Trekking the frozen Zanskar River
 

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I got in touch with Felicity Aston (an amazing human being worth looking up, leading women to the most extraordinary adventures), who happened to be planning such a trip to one of the most remote, isolated and inhospitable places on earth: The Zanskar Valley, in the Himalayas.

A group of 9 women decided to take the plunge and head towards the “cold desert” that this place is. The Zanskar Valley gets completely cut off from the rest of the world during winter months, as the heavy snow fall blocks all the roads leading to it. To reach it, one must trek for a week on the frozen Zanskar River, while camping in the rough. The frozen river is the only way in and the only way out.

Loaded with all our belongings, and with the help of the porters, it took us a total of 12 days trekking on ice. We slept in the rough, surrounded by predators that we couldn’t see (we would only find their footprints in the snow the mornings after), we ate boiled maggi noodles every day and learned to do the “penguin-walk” while treading on ice. 

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It’s not as easy as you might think walking on ice. For once, the ice is not the smooth, lake-like ice you might think. This is a ferocious river after all, and broken pieces of ice travel down, stick to other parts of ice, forming an uneven, layered block of ice-sculpture for you to navigate. Occasionally, the ice was not thick enough and we had to trek on the banks of the river, or even climb up to the snowed road. The risk of falling through the ice never left us.

I never thought that I’d be able to keep warm while sleeping in a tent at -40C, yet I managed. I once again returned with renewed faith in my abilities, incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have and in awe with the amazing women out there, trailblazing a path for all the rest of us.

Enjoy below some of the pictures from the trek and the region itself. 

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Cross-continental madness
 

A group of like-minded adventurers decided (after a losing a bet that involved cricket!) to plan a unique adventure, crossing a whole continent with no other means of transport but human power! 

I was lucky enough to be accepted in this trip.  I say “accepted,” because we all went through a vetting process, believe it or not! Well, I can’t blame David, the organiser. He wanted to make sure that we knew what we were up against and that we wouldn’t have a meltdown in the middle of the adventure in the tropical jungle.

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Costa-Rica occupies a relatively narrow strip of land, in the middle of Central America, and has many volcanoes, some of them still somewhat active. It’s in other words the hot, mountainous and jungle-like country that is not for the faint-hearted when it comes to crossing it from end to end using just our arms and legs.

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The adventure started off on with a beer and a warm up cricket game on the Pacific Ocean side of the country, before a 2-week expedition begun. The first days were just uphill trekking and occasional cycling. The tropical heat was an added burden to our troubles, with blisters and mosquito bites being the others. At least, sleeping in tents was not as bad under the summery sky. 

Reaching the peaks of Costa-Rica mountains felt like a big reward. Our guides carried large machetes to cut through the jungle, and we were mindful not to stay too far away from the pack- jaguars might have been luring behind the bushes. Sleeping in a literal cow-shed the last night before our down-hill journey was certainly a highlight.

The last days of the journey had the added fun of water! We chose to utilise the river’s power to aid our descent, so apart from trekking and cycling, we covered some distance rafting, while camping on the sides of the river. One specific camping side we reached with our raft I can only describe as paradise-like, with showers walled by thick vegetation instead of concrete; the closest you can get feeling like showering in nature! 

The last portion of the journey was completed by kayak. Reaching the brackish waters of the river, what a better way to reach the Atlantic Ocean – and the end of our expedition—going through the crocodile infested waters on a kayak! 

An extraordinary exit to the ocean for sure and our little team made it! Blister-full feet and exfoliating skin with uneven tan lines, we made it to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Enjoy some pictures of our jungle trekking-river floating experience!

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