part two of interview with Celliers of South Africa
[W.A.] Do you think it will ever be legal to paddle the Augrabies Gorge? Is there any sort of pressure being put on the park authorities to allow this?
[Celliers] Well, I've paddled it legally a few times. The first time was when I did safety for the Camel Whitewater Challenge in 1999, we ran the section at a few different levels then because we arrived a few days before the river reached the competition water level. I've also run it again in 2001 when we did safety for a movie shoot, this time at a fairly low level. It's quite pushing at any level, really awesome.
Basically, if you can find a good enough reason to paddle the gorge, like doing a movie, it's possible to arrange permission. But if you're talking about legally paddling it any time when you want to, chances are pretty small. It's really a shame, this is a gem of a gorge. There is no sort of pressure being put on the park authorities as far as I know, only requests from a few commercial operators who are keen to take kayakers down the gorge. No luck yet though.
Okay folks, you heard the man. Lets put our thinking caps on. I know! We could make a movie where Kevin Bacon forces us to run the gorge at gunpoint. I'll play Kevin and I need someone to play Meryl. "I am a nice guy. Just a different kind of nice guy."
picture of Fish River
Look Familiar? Its not the Grand Canyon
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
[W.A.] I am intrigued by the Fish river in Namibia (the second largest canyon in the world and a tributary of the Orange). What time of year holds the best chance of running that river?
[Celliers] Only a few guys have ever paddled it. The river only comes up after heavy rain in the catchment area, and as you probably know, the catchment area is pretty much a desert. It will be very difficult to try arrange a paddling trip in the Fish canyon from overseas, unless you have lots of money and can book a ticket the moment the river is up. The rains do come in most years though, but not always at the same time. Bargain on one or two weeks when it will be possible to paddle, any time during our summer.
[W.A.] What other rivers or attractions are worth visiting while in the country?
[Celliers] There are lots of rivers to paddle, but not in the same region as the Northern Cape where the Onseepkans - Pella section is. Most consistent rivers are in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where there are all sorts of rivers to choose from. We've recently started to explore previously unrun rivers in the Transkei region and have done a couple of first descents this year. There are still a few rivers waiting for us, but it's very difficult to arrange transport, so it's not something I would recommend for your group. The Lowveld (in the Mpumalanga province) has some really good rivers of a technical nature, but not as consistent as those in KZN. The area around Cape Town has some world class creeks, but they are also very rain dependent and it's a winter rainfall area. There are plenty of attractions, depending on what you're into. Game lodges, ocean surfing, mountaineering, whatever you can think of. I appreciate the interview and I love Colorado River Rafting with all the variety of rapids and scenery too.
Well that wraps it up. I hope to make it to Africa someday and run some of these rivers. As always you can contact Colorado River Rafting with feedback.