Gabriel sends these words and pictures:
The Zab River in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. It's beautiful countryside, and... it's pretty safe.
The sheep share the riverbanks with exotic birds: bee-eaters, hoopoes. We even saw a family of wild boar rooting around, though we didn't manage to snap them
Azzam Alwash, the man with the raft. He's an Iraqi American environmentalist who wants to turn Kurdistan into a haven for eco-tourists
The BBC Baghdad Bureau on its first rafting-outing. We feel like pioneers.
We filmed it all, for posterity. But it wasn't easy. Here's Becky Lipscombe, our producer, with improvised waterproof head-cam. (The sound recorder was wrapped in a plastic bag, stuffed in the pocket of her life-jacket)
Moose, the cameraman, blithely jumped into an inflatable kayak with his camera.
But we think the pictures were worth it....
We talk a lot terror in Iraq. This bit was pretty terrifying...
Mike Crane, from Vermont, recently gave up a job doing reconstruction work for the US state department in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's birthplace. Now he's hoping to attract foreign oil workers to come to Kurdistan to do this kind of thing in their spare time.
We're certainly the first foreigners these locals have seen floating down the river. They're not too sure about rafting....
...but they did share their seriously impressive picnic with us: dolma - stuffed vegetables and flat breads."