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Class: 2 – 4 (4+ at flood)
I had seen whitewater kayaking whilst rafting with my father on the Zambezi in December 1999 and knew deep down that that is exactly what I wanted to do. April 2004 I bought my first kayak, a Necky Blunt, with the money received from a third party accident claim because I had a car crash, compressing the third vertebrae in my neck. With a mate in the pool and a book lying precariously next to it, I taught myself the Eskimo roll. I lived three streets up from a lake and would go down and paddle the flat water as often as possible. Internet resources were limited using a dial up connection but I found a few small video clips of cartwheels and bow stalls. It took me 3 months of struggling to get the bow stall right but I was loving it. At a stage I stumbled onto Playak.com which is still the best kayaking resource on the net and somehow became friends with the owner, Jeroen Houttuin. My enthusiasm for kayaking was quite evident and I can’t even remember how it started but I must have posted more photos when Jeroen offered to create my own little space for me on the internet where I could post my photos and articles – this was the birth of adrian.playak.com.
For several years now I’ve been friends with Charl van Rensburg. Charl is different from most of my other friends in that he does not kayak, windsurf, surf or bodyboard, he riverboards - also known as hydrospeeding. The definition from the Wiki is as follows, “Riverboarding is a boardsport in which the participant lies prone on their board with fins on their feet for propulsion and steering.” On the 22nd of July this year we had a great level on the Witte River here in the Western Cape province of South Africa and although I had been down rivers with Charl before, we had not done the Witte together.
The Palmiet River starts its life high up in the hills just south of Franschhoek. From here it begins its journey down south where it spills into the Atlantic Ocean only a stone’s throw west of Kleinmond – a distance of about 73km from source to sea. We are only interested in the last few kilometres.
11 April 2012. Yes I am slow. Yes this was actually the first river we paddled, and yes I had to hold back the photos and hence this article because they were featured in the National Geographic Traveler magazine in Indonesia. Anyway, here’s what happened that day.