Poland’s record-setting kayaker dies after climbing Kilimanjaro

Photo: Wikipedia (public domain)

Aleksander Doba, Poland's world-famous traveler, died at the age of 74 after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. Best known for his solo ocean expeditions, he was the first person to paddle a 23-foot sea kayak across the Atlantic, a voyage of 3,352 miles. He was also the first person to cross the ocean using only his own muscle-power.

Doba was 65 when he attempted his first transatlantic crossing from Senegal in Africa to Brazil in 2010. His second voyage took place in 2013. In 2015, he won National Geographic’s People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year award, before making his third and final trip across the Atlantic, in 2017. The Pole had to battle ocean storms, health problems and his boat’s technical failure and even got attacked and robbed in the Amazon, but he never got discouraged. In addition to a yacht skipper’s certificate and numerous Polish and international kayak titles and awards, Doba was also a cyclist, parachutist, and mountain climber.

Elephants at Amboseli national park against Mount Kilimanjaro, by Amoghavarsha JS (amoghavarsha.com) - own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 (Source: Wikipedia)

After making it to the top of 19,341-foot Kilimanjaro on 22nd February 2021, the Pole fainted and never regained consciousness. “He had tried everything, because he wanted life to make sense,” remarked his friend and fellow-adventurer Elżbieta Dzikowska. “Nothing frightened Olek. He had a dream and went on to fulfill it. Olek is no longer with us, but he fulfilled his life the way he wanted.

Let the thankful memory of his countrymen in Poland and in exile be the most important award for everything that Janusz Sporek did for the Polish culture and the Polish community. People like Him are unique and irreplaceable, but their ideas can and should be continued. We regret to say goodbye to the Maestro, but we are proud that we had Him among us.