Life on the edge can't be beaten
EARLIER this month, Mark Kalch met the Queen.
"She is tiny and reminded me of my grandma," he said.
The 34-year-old was invited to Buckingham Palace for a reception recognising those involved in adventure and exploration.
And when it comes to travel, the Mackay-bred professional adventurer lives his life on the edge.
A solo trek from north to south across Iran and paddling down the Amazon River from the Andes of Peru to the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Brazil, are just two of his adventures.
"My ideas for adventure come from wanting to see what is out there," Mr Kalch said.
The best and worst thing about his job is its unpredictable nature. "Every day is different whether I am away on expedition or not," he said.
His current profession was a gradual process rather than a conscious decision for Mr Kalch.
"I started sea-kayak guiding on the Sunshine Coast (10 years ago), which was followed by raft guiding in South Africa," he said.
When he wasn't taking clients on the ride of their lives, Mr Kalch would set off on mini-expeditions, which became bigger after he moved to Ethiopia.
"It wasn't really until a source-to-sea paddling descent of the Amazon River (in 2007/2008) that I thought it might be something I could do for a living," he said.
His advice is to just get out there and do it.
The expeditions are funded through sponsors, lecturing at schools and corporations, writing for magazines and occasionally selling photos from his adventure, he said.
In May 2012, Mr Kalch will paddle the Missouri-Mississippi River alone; it's almost 6300km long and stretches from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico.
This is part of his long-term goal to paddle the length of each continent's longest river.