It was my birthday weekend. Shane had informed me that there was no water in Swaziland that weekend (a lie, according to 12C), so we decided to hit the upper Sabie.
However, that Friday (my actual birthday) The Killers were playing in Johannesburg, and they happen to be a favourite band of mine. So I proceeded to get raucously drunk with my housemates, and somehow drove to Adrian Vroom’s house at around 4am, after which I slept while he drove. Neil O’Leary also joined us.


I woke up in Sabie with a rather serious hangover. In the parking lot we met Kestel. We didn’t know who Kestel was but he could see the boats on the roof and asked if he could join us. We said he was welcome. Kestel is busy setting up a new adventure company in Sabie. I bought a large, greasy russian sausage from the supermarket, which only aggravated my hangover and made me feel worse. When we got to the put-in, we found that although I was still wasted when packing my gear, it was Neil who had left ALL his gear behind. He had only a boat and paddle. So Kestel borrowed his Solo (as he was paddling a playboat) and announced that he needed to practice his roll as he hadn’t paddled in almost a year. This left us wondering if we would be in for an interesting day, but as it turned out he could roll fine, and actually styled the river. Without his kit, Neil was left to run shuttle.

Dsc_0518 Dsc_0529 Luke Longridge getting munched on Double Drop… But eventually getting out.

Dsc_0552Adrian Vroom running Double Drop.

Dsc_0565Kestel running Double Drop. 

Dsc_0579Luke getting it wrong on Hugh Twice. Last time I ran this with Scott Reinders it mashed my elbow a bit. You’ll notice I have elbow pads on this trip, as my stitches from Swaziland had only just come out.

Dsc_0008 Dsc_0011Adrian Vroom running Hugh Twice.

Dsc_0027 Dsc_0031 Dsc_0032Kestel styling Hugh Twice.

Dsc_0045Luke running Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels.

Dsc_0051Luke passing the first smoking barrel. At higher water this can dish out some tasty beatings.

Dsc_0064Adrian Vroom running Lock, Stock.

Dsc_0077Kestel on the entry to Lock Stock…

Dsc_0082And finding “the eddy” – not a good place to be, but he made it out OK.


I’ve always assumed that at some point in my life, I have paddled the upper Sabie at low water. Turns out I was wrong, and have only ever paddled it really full. Until this time. It was very low, which was probably a good thing, because I was paddling rather poorly. We ran all the rapids on the U2 section, and Hugh Twice caught me out a little. On another rapid I got caught out a lot. At high water (which seemingly is the only level I’d previously paddled the Sabie) this rapid forms a nice chute that you run down the centre. I assumed this was the case for low water too. I was wrong. At low water, the chute forms a narrow gully, just wide enough for a kayak, and about 5m long, with a big rock at the end. I got flipped at the top of this gully and landed up pinned upside down on this rock, with no way to roll, as my boat was still stuck in the gully. Oops. Time for a swim. When I came up I saw Kestel swimming too. He’d seen my troubles, and had bailed in sympathy. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, and the low water meant that we could attempt the “boof-o-matic” line on Siphon Falls without worrying about a beat down if we got it wrong. The other guys hadn’t seen this line, which involves catching a tiny eddy at the lip, then ferrying hard to river left to hit a rock ledge which causes some serious boofage. A superb line indeed!

Dsc_0097Luke seal launching above Siphon Falls… (For those that don’t know, the rock behind Luke is the one causing the siphon. When the water is high enough you can paddle right over it – Adrian Tregoning)

Dsc_0098Catching the little eddy…

Dsc_0099 Dsc_0100 Dsc_0101 Dsc_0102Ferrying across…

Dsc_0103 Dsc_0104And Boof-O-Matic time!

Dsc_0110Adrian Vroom a little right, but still OK. At high water you don’t want to get this wrong or a thrashing could result.    

Dsc_0117Kestel working the boof on Siphon Falls.

Dsc_0145Luke running the big slide.

Dsc_0164 Dsc_0165 Dsc_0166 Dsc_0167 Dsc_0168Adrian Vroom correcting in a hurry from going sideways down the big slide and into a big hole.

Dsc_0182Luke getting Double Drop right, sans hangover.

Dsc_0191Adrian Vroom, Double Drop.

Dsc_0203Neil O’Leary with a perfect line down Double Drop.

Dsc_0211Adrian Vroom with his second run of Hugh Twice…

       Dsc_0217And finishing off another successful run.

Dsc_0227 Luke on Hugh Twice. (For those that don’t know, this rapid is called Hugh Twice because Hugh du Preez took 2 swims here already. This rapid is quite dangerous and has a siphon at the bottom. Do not go right of the big rock in the middle – Adrian Tregoning)

Dsc_0251Luke, a different angle on the boof at Siphon Falls.

Dsc_0262Adrian Vroom with a superb boof-o-matic line down Siphon Falls.

Dsc_0271Neil also doing a good job on the boof.


After running the river we got some lunch, and headed to Kestel’s place, as he’d offered to let us stay there for the night. We met his housemate, who began making some moves on Adrian after some beers. I however, was in no mood for more beer and crashed early, so I only heard about this from Neil.

On Sunday we ran the river again, and this time I avoided swimming. Neil borrowed Kestel’s kit as he had to work. Another boof-o-matic session ended the weekend in style.

White Fluid Name deep etched with white inside copy_250


Photos: Courtesy Luke Longridge and whoever was on the trip.