Nymburk pair to pedal 850km down Elbe to North Sea in plastic bottle boat

Photo: Rob Cameron

Two local boys from Nymburk – about 50km east of Prague – will set out on an unusual journey at the end of June; peddling almost a thousand kilometres down the River Elbe to Hamburg in a boat made out of plastic water bottles. Honza Kára, a 22-year-old student, and his friend Jakub Bureš, a 21-year-old mechanic, are currently putting the finishing touches to their craft ahead of the summer launch. Radio Prague's Rob Cameron met the two of them in Nymburk and Honza Kára told him how the idea was born.

Jakub Bureš,  Honza Kára,  photo: Rob Cameron
“Last year I went from Nymburk to Gibraltar. It was a 3,000km-long pilgrimage. We didn’t know each other at that point. Jakub wrote to me saying he wanted to meet me when I came back home. And he told me he was building his private boat from plastic bottles. And I told him that if it works, we’ll make a big one and go to Hamburg.”

We’re standing in Nymburk, which is a small town on the River Labe, or Elbe as it’s known in German and English, and about 850 – 900km that way is Hamburg on the North Sea.


So your plan is to pedal down the River Elbe to Hamburg in a boat that’s made from plastic bottles.

“Yes, exactly.”

Photo: Rob Cameron
Have you lost your minds?

“No, no. Why not? Why not. If it works, we can go, I don’t know, the same way back. If it’s a good boat. If not, we’ll stay here and that’s all.”

OK. So the River Elbe is completely navigable from here to the North Sea.

“Yes. Our boat will be about one metre deep, so we can go everywhere we want.”

Because I’m quite interested in the legality of these things. Do you need a licence?

“No. Because it’s shorter than twenty metres, and it hasn’t got an engine or something like that. So if you have a pedal boat or a boat without any power, you can go wherever you want.”

How long will this take you?

Jakub Bureš,  Honza Kára,  photo: Rob Cameron
“We don’t know. We don’t know how fast it will be. But we’ll have a lot of free time. We can spend a month, two months, you know, the whole summer.”

Alright, next thing, where are you going to sleep?

“On the boat. There’ll be something like a cabin for four people. We won’t be the only passengers on the boat, there’ll be two extra men peddling and maybe a cameraman to record it. So we’ll sleep on the boat or in tents on the riverbank.”

OK. Food?

“Food? I don’t know, normal food.”


“Water, normal water.”


Honza Kára,  Jakub Bureš,  photo: Rob Cameron
“Toilets – into the river.”

So you’ve really thought of everything. What do your parents make of all this?

“You know, my parents are OK with everything I do. They support me. So I think they like the fact that I’m doing something like this and that I’m not, you know, an ordinary boy.”

I guess I would ask you finally – why are you doing this?

“Just for adventure. That’s the main idea.”

And you can follow their progress at: www.nymburkhamburk.cz