Having crossed the Seine many times in Paris got me thinking. I have been fortunate to see and cross many of the great rivers of the world. The mighty Mississippi River here in the U.S. is perhaps the one many of us are most familiar. The mighty Miss is also called the Big Muddy, represents the second largest watershed in the world, covers more than 1.2 million square miles, with tributaries in 33 states and two Canadian provinces. It source is said to be the Jefferson River in Montana.
Here are some others, in no particular order.
Amazon River in Peru, truly an adventure, dodging caiman and piranha, the largest river in the world by volume. The Amazon is the longest river in South America, winding through six countries, three time zones, and 4980 miles. It represents one-fifth of the world’s running water. It was discovered by Spanish explorer, Francisco de Orellana in the 1540s. This remains one of my favorite trips, not only for the river, but Amazonia in general, and the native people and animals in particular.
Sunset on the Amazon
Mekong River in Laos, a cultural and esthetic revelation, with many “farmers” brewing their own “lao lao” liquor. Only the 11th longest river in the world, it runs 3,000 miles through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Burma, and Thailand. The delta has been the site of countless battles. Today, it is peaceful, and fertile, covering 15,000 square mile Mekong Delta. But if China builds a dam up river, chaos could ensue down river.
Volga River in Russia, not a pretty place, but memorable in its own right, as the longest river in Europe. It is Russia’s principal waterway, and historically a crucial waterway, even for anti-Putin demonstrators. It has carried Russian colonization to the east, transported freight east and west, and provided irrigation to the vast Russian steppes. It was not a memorable crossing as I recall.
The Volga empties into the Caspian Sea.
River Thames in London, home to many famous English landmarks, and the Henley Regatta. Short but mighty, the Thames flows for only 220 miles. It claims to be the river that had the greatest impact on the world. Today, it has 44 locks, no bagels, several royal palaces, two famous University towns, and one of the great cities of the world, London. And notice we call it the River Thames, not the Thames River.
Chao Praya River in Bangkok, one of the busiest rivers I have ever seen, a great view in a longtail boat. The Ping River, one of two main tributaries, runs through Chiang Mai, Thailand, with mansions alongside people doing their laundry and fishing for their dinner. Its uniqueness lies in the many elephants that are bathed in the river.
Okavango River in Botswana does not have a mouth. Instead, it dwindles to very low water volume, sink into an aquifer, or simply evaporate. The exact point where it beings and ends depends on the season. But wildlife abounds.
Neva River flows through St. Petersburg, Russia, on its way to Finland and the Baltic Sea. I took a cruise on the Neva, past several military installations, many new housing developments, and the fabulous winter palace. It has been the site of many famous battles. Remarkably, there is no aquatic vegetation on the river.
Ice covers the Neva River in winter
Potomac River in DC is too wide to throw a silver dollar across, but certainly beautiful during cherry blossom time. Over 486 million gallons of water are withdrawn each day for the citizens of the Washington area. For me, the Potomac has numerous, interesting bicycle paths to explore. Oh, and floods do occur on this river during winter rain storms.
Rhine River in Germany, as picturesque as any in Europe, with cute little towns along the way. The Rhine is known for its terraced vineyards, fairy like castles, and dramatic cliffs. It flows from the mountains of Switzerland, through western Germany, to the North Sea near Rotterdam. The wines and scenery make it a great place to visit.
Zambezi River finds it way to Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, lots of “z”s here. It is the 4th longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The river basin covers 1,390,000 square kilometers, or slightly less than half of the Nile. The river is important for commerce, as well as the many animals who inhabit the countries. Sunset cocktails on the Zambezi was rather charming!
Danube River, Europe’s second longest, loaded with castles and thankfully, many biergartens!!! It begins in the Black Forest of Germany, and has been a trading river since the 7th century. It flows to the Black Sea, through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Was there a song or poem about the Blue Danube?
St. Lawrence River runs through Montreal, truly a most interesting city, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It traverses Quebec and Ontario, and forms part of the US-Canadian border. Nine species of whales can be found in the St. Lawrence River, including beluga, blue, and sperm. One of the more unique rivers of the world, I say.
River Tweed, runs along the border of Scotland and England, hardly noticed when golfing at the home of golf. Only 97 miles long, it is one of the great salmon rivers of Britain, and where no angling license is required. I am not sure when they named my jacket after the River Tweed. But I broke 90 at the Olde Course!!!!
Tagus River in Lisboa, though I would prefer the Douro River and its many port bottegas. The longest river on the Iberian peninsula, it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisboa. It supplies drinking water to both Spain and Portugal. And you are still wondering why I wrote Lisboa and not Lisbon.
Lena River, starts near Lake Baikal (7 miles west) and seemingly runs forever to the Arctic Ocean. It is the easternmost of three Russian rivers that run into the Arctic Ocean. Its watershed is entirely on Russian soil. It was my first stop on the Trans Siberian Railway. Memorable to say the least.
Lena River, near Yakutsk
Rio Grande River, creates a natural border that separates Mexico and the U.S. (Texas). It is the 4th or 5th longest river in the US. The heavily irrigated Rio Grande Valley is an important agricultural region. The river has appeared in numerous television westerns through the years. The watershed covers 182,000 square miles. I followed it for a ways while riding the Sunset Limited from LA to Nawlins.
Colorado River, simply spectacular as it runs for 1450 miles, and through the Grand Canyon, before and beyond. When I think of whitewater rapids, I think of the mighty Colorado River, John Westley Powell, and the beautiful Grand Canyon. Ninety percent of the water is diverted for irrigation and drinking water. I would like to spend more time on the Colorado River.
Columbia River, British Columbia, largest river in the Pacific Northwest, begins with the Snake River in Idaho. From the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia covers 1200 miles, and is best known as part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805. It divides Oregon and Washington for its final 309 miles. Wineries abound on both sides, while windsurfers own the water near the Columbia River Gorge. Wine, did you say wine?
I am certain you have rivers, large and small, that you favor or have created great memories. There are too many to list, and too many to remember. Rather interesting how the rivers have intertwined our travels and our lives.
Yet to see: Hudson, Nile, Yukon, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in India, The Ganges, the Yangtze, the Niger. Too many to mention, time is running short. While the rivers are not the focus, they are an important part of our travels.