Whitewater Training – Beginner’s Kayak School


So you’ve been sitting at home watching these crazy people on television and always wanted to throw yourself off some huge waterfalls, but have never known how to get into the whole whitewater kayaking scene. Well, with the right guidance and training you can.

Why not contact Whitewater Training? Ideally situated on the bank of the (sometimes) mighty Vaal River in the sleepy town of Parys, there is a year round flow that is perfect for learning all the basics and getting to grips with your boat. Of course you do not need your own equipment and everything you need will be provided by Whitewater Training in terms of boats, paddles, helmets, pfd’s, spray decks etc.


This introductory course is specially designed to give you a solid foundation into the basics of kayaking. On completion of this course you should be able to navigate in relatively simple rapids and be able to read the water correctly and also take into consideration any dangers. Bracing strokes, the so called ‘Eskimo roll’ and many other techniques will be covered over the two day course.


The first morning covers a few flat water exercises such as the wet exit, T-rescue, sweep stroke, low brace, rolling and even just paddling in a straight line. That afternoon the class is taken to the river where some river features are discussed and the importance of eddies, peeling in and out of them, ferrying across a current, S-turns, swimming safely down a rapid and also rolling in moving current.


That evening you will attend a presentation on reading the water and also more on river safety. An action packed video/DVD will also be shown to get the juices flowing!


Hugh du Preez helping a student by means of a T-rescue.


Students pay close attention to what Hugh (far left) has to say here at Gatsien's Chute.


A student flips over, only to roll on his own under close supervision from a nearby instructor.


The second day of the course will include a revision of the previous day's lessons and then you will actually run the river. This is the getting-into-the-goods day and your learning will be based more on your own actions through some trial and perhaps a wee bit of error. Throughout the course you will be in the safe hands of a Whitewater Training instructor and perhaps a guide or two depending on the size of the class.


Safety is top priority and you will not be scared to death by some crazy river bum. You are guaranteed a good time on the river and enough knowledge and experience to decide whether you wish to continue kayaking or not. Should you wish to get into it there are further courses to be taken and also all of the gear is available from Whitewater Training at very reasonable prices.


The class is taken through the steps of crossing a piece of moving water.


Nervous times for a yougn man when learning to ferry for the first time.


Swimming is all part of the fun!


Scary the first time, maybe....


...but after a few runs you'll be styling.


Your progress will be shot on video so you can see what you're actually doing right, and wrong.


You won’t know what it’s like by reading this article or by looking at the photographs. Pick up the phone and contact Whitewater Training today. You won’t be sorry you did! To get to their website, click HERE.


Whitewater Training 

Tel: (056) 811 2597

Fax: (056) 817 2737

E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Hugh du Preez in a really bad spot on the Buffalo River but still smiling away. Photo by Billy Harris.


The river trip itself will be on the Vaal River from the town of Parys down but a fair amount of training and practice will occur at a rapid known as Gatsien. This is Afrikaans for see-your-arse. This is an excellent park and play spot for kayakers of all ages and skill levels. At low levels (15 to 40 m³/s) one can play at Gatsien’s Chute where some flat spins, loops and cartwheels are possible but a little tricky in this narrow chute. At better levels from about 60 m³/s upwards there is a wave/hole on the bottom of the rapid on the river left side which is the scene of some action and most of the moves are possible. The feature changes with the water levels and even at 3000 m³/s it is still possible to bust some moves there. I’ve only ever seen it at 450 and it was great fun. It just gets very, very big and fast at much higher levels. But on average it’s very mild, gentle and perfect  for the beginner.


This is the little play spot known as Gatsien's Chute and runs all year long. At higher levels it washes out. Here is Bredan Bosman having a little play session.


The area has some great wildlife and ducks, crane, Hammerkops and various other water birds abound.


With about 65 'cumecs' the bottom wave/hole on river left works nicely.


At 450 'cumecs' the wave gets better and better. Please note that these levels are the exception rather than the rule and the kayak school would be run at the best and also safest spot accordingly.


At normal low levels the river is placid and easy to paddle on.


Regardless of water levels there is always the chance for a good old Hansa quart. Adrian Vroom (left) and Neels Annandale (right) at Gatsien on a late summer's evening.


I’ve swam here plenty of times for fun and also did my swift water rescue course with Whitewater Training and can honestly say there isn’t a better place to train for that sort of thing in terms of accessibility and friendliness. So there you have it, what are you waiting for? There’s no excuse  now.


A late summer's evening at Gatsien with a thunderstorm in the background... I looooove summer!




Photography by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated.

Words by: Adrian Tregoning