South Africa?

Must be something there…besides AIDES, war, drought, and extinctions.

I think Thai Verzone took his packraft to South Africa last year. It would be nice to hear from Thai regarding his packrafting adventures in Africa, New Zealand, and South America. Thai are you out there?

I haven’t tried South Africa but my girlfriend and I packrafted the White Nile near Jinja, Uganda a couple of years ago. The locals thought we were crazy. It was definitely the biggest water I’ve done in an alpacka, though we skipped some truly epic, roller-coaster size rapids. Sadly, they’ve started construction of a dam that will wipe out the section we did. The hippos issue is almost a deal breaker for me, much more scary than bears.

Is this the river that people do commercially – the truly huge water?

Are you thinking of the Zambezi?

Both the White Nile and the Zambezi have commercial trips. The Nile is truly huge water. I haven’t seen the Zambezi but from what I’ve heard it’s maybe more intense but less volume. Of course neither river is really a a good place for packrafts. I think I’d prefer to have an inner tube.

Peggy and I spent a month in South Africa: two weeks in Kruger, ten days in the Drakesnberg, and the rest driving or in Swaziland.

Kruger would be cool but (1) hippos are the most dangerous mammals in Africa and super abundant in the rather nasty little rivers in Kruger (2) Crocs are the most dangerous reptiles and super abundant there as well and (3) you can’t even get out of your car legally, much less to get into a packraft.

The Drakensberg in summer would have some steep, short creeking on the South Africa side, but the hiking’s so awesome, it’s not really worth it, although the Lesotho side likely have some worthwhile runs.

During our other packrafting trips since October we hiked in Utah’s Canyonlands, Patagonia’s Torres del Paine, NZ’s Southern Alps and West Coast, Borneo’s Mulu, Australia’s Kakadu and Bungle Bungles and we liked the Drakensberg for hiking more than anywhere else. Too bad I couldn’t find a good river. I think there’s some little ones on the Lesotho side worth doing, ones that begin up by the Amphitheater, but it was Fall, the water’s were low and the hiking too good. If we hadn’t had such a good trip to S Africa otehrwise, I’d be disappointed we didn’t give packrafting a go there.

We didn’t get to Cape Town area where there’s likely more water, no crocs/hippos, but as we are principally wilderness enthusiasts, there was little on the map that seemed to indicate any wild water in South Africa.

Looking forward to hearing what others discover there.

Hi Roman -

I just got back from Gabon, West Africa, where I explored some remote rivers with the Baka pygmy people. Not as much wildlife around as I had hoped (because the pygmies are VERY efficient hunters), but there are plenty of very raftable rivers in the jungle there. Tourism infrastructure is virtually non-existent in Gabon, and so I just paid the pygmies a bit of money to paddle me around the rivers. In hindsight, packrafting solo would have been more interesting.

Saw your video when you rafted down the Chamberlain in Australia. We’ve got a lot of remote and very raftable rivers in northern Oz - I just went down the King Edward river in the far northern Kimberley in May. Spectacular. The only problem with these northern rivers is they don’t lead anywhere, except to crocodile-infested mangrove coasts with no people and no way to get back to civilization, except by pre-organized helicopter.

On my website: I have some video of various river journeys, including “Packrafting solo through the Kimberley” and some lovely shots of wild forest elephants and a massive python deep in the Gabon jungles. My Yukon Yak and I will be definitely doing some further remote river trips in 2011 - maybe southewrn Venezuela, northern Mongolia, and a few others (if i can afford it!). Before I immigrated to Australia in 1991 I lived in Alaska. Did a nice sedate kayak paddle down the Kuskokwim River, from McGrath to Stony River. Saw 4 black bears, 5 moose, and plenty of wolf tracks. I wouldn’t mind checking out Afonak Island’s lesser known rivers one day, and perhaps around the Kenai region. As always for me, a river must be very remote and largely unexplored.

Thoroughly enjoyed your packrafting book, by the way - well done, Roman.
Kevin Casey