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Cleaning the Elands

What a view.

What a view.

It is the end of the dry winter season in South Africa. No joke – The Southern Hemisphere actually experiences winter mid-year!

This also means that our rivers are at their very lowest, the perfect time to remove obstructions from a river and make it more paddle-able.

This is what I, Jubba and Connor were up to a few weeks ago on the Elands River below Waterval Boven.

Now Boven is one of the top international climbing destinations, but steep cliff faces and gorges also result in steep rivers. This is quite high up in the Elands River, so it is quite rain dependant, but on a previous scout session with my mate Sheena we realized that there is definitely some potential for a fun white water section. Read that story here.

We kicked off with a 60 meter abseil next to the waterfall, with help from our friends at Roc ‘n Rope, and armed to the teeth with saws, pangas (the south African version of a machete) and basic rigging equipment we started down one of the most beautiful gorges in South Africa.

We also made use of the opportunity to do a miniSASS river health assessment below the waterfall. Go find it on www.minisass.org. Please make a contribution to the conservation of our rivers by using this very simple tool on every river you paddle!

Our verdict of this river:

  • River type: Pool Drop, narrow.
  • Difficulty: Beginner, but with a few more serious Class 4+ features (easy to portage) and two easily avoidable death trap syphoned rapids (maybe paddle-able for very experienced kayakers at very high level – Class 5-6)
  • It is now (mostly) clean to paddle.
  • Short-ish run, lots of fun, spectacular surroundings.
  • Rain dependant section. Watch the weather forecast before taking the drive. But if all fails, you can always enjoy some rock climbing or technical mountain biking in the area.

Now we wait for Modjadji to bring the summer rains that will transform this river into an action packed adventure!

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Photos courtesy of Johnathan Jubber.

Story by Franz Fuls

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About Franz Fuls

Adventurer Freelance Journalist Photographer Bunny Hugger Engineer January 2014 I depart on a 2,500km eco-expedition called Triwaters Tour. The website link is in my profile. Go check it out.

One comment on “Cleaning the Elands

  1. What an awesome weekend, except where Conor got a stomach bug…

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