The fourth morning arrived with one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. For those few that were lucky enough to witness those five minutes of beauty it was well worth it. The photographs don’t even do it justice. The normal rigors of camp life rolled by in the way of boiling water for oats, drinking water, preparing more drinking water, packing up all the sleeping gear and stuffing everything back into the boats. It’s a good life.

The fourth day was a long one. The rapids were smaller than those above the falls and the pools long. We stopped for lunch around midday and idled under some trees to escape the sun and heat. We were still above the confluence of the Tsitsa and Tina rivers but were now close. Five kilometres from the confluence with the Tsitsa and the Mzimvubu, the Tina joins the Tsitsa. So they are not reunited for long before joining the supposedly larger of them all, the Mzimvubu. Getting to the confluence was a relief, as we now had the added volume from these two rivers which was a real help. We now had more than double the volume and this would make the going a little quicker, kind of. The problem is, is that river Mzimvubu’s width is increased substantially at this point and thus the added water made a difference, but not a big one. Also, the gradient is nothing to write home about. In the summer months, these rivers can run really high and then the Mzimvubu really shines, being the third largest river in South Africa. But in April, things aren’t quite as exciting from an action perspective. Luckily the group was just awesome and it was definitely a great trip. The long drive up from Cape Town was well worth it.

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Incredible sunrise on day 4. Just awesome. Many of the guys missed it, but I was up ultra early every morning and for once was rewarded.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_375_E1 copy

Leon Pieters, fast asleep. This was the photo of the trip. Note the string of the sleeping bag in his mouth. We laughed about this pic for a loooong time afterwards. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_378_E1 copy

Scott Reinders and Andrew Pollock always slept under this arrangement. Worked very well, keeping a little heat in and the moisture off the sleeping bags.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_382_E1_CR copyMe. Photo by Scott Reinders. 

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The spot we stopped for lunch. I love the scenery.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_402_E1 copy

Lunch time. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_404_E1_CR copy

Jakes Saaiman holding a lovely little flower for the camera.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_406_E1_CR copy

Finding a cool little boat for a lunch break. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_408_E1 copy

Two medium Fluid Detoxes. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_419_E1 copy

Scenery nearing the confluence with the Tsitsa. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_421_E1 copy

The Mzimvubu a hundred metres below the confluence.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_422_E1 copy

The confluence.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_425_E1 copy

Another shot of the confluence. The ripples were mostly from wind actually.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_444_E1 copy

Random a few km’s later. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_453_E1 copyAh, our final camp site. Look at that lawn! Totally natural. 

At some stage I got stuck heading down a boulder field. The boat was heavy and I didn’t feel like getting out of my boat. I tried to wriggle out and then used my paddle to lever myself. I pushed hard back on the blade a few times, then, much harder – snap. Oops. I had cracked the blade across the back. Luckily not through but a stupid mistake nevertheless. The paddle was still useful and a bit further on I wrapped some duct tape around the blade just to make sure the blade didn’t flex more and snap off totally. I had a split paddle in the boat but wanted to make sure my Werner didn’t break anymore because it could be repaired if it could make it down. I was a bit bummed, but not too bad, which surprised me.

Towards late evening, after pushing it for quite some time, we made our fourth and possibly final camp. It was another one of those pristine spots with excellent grass and a view which would be hard to rival. This river certainly has the best camp sites I’ve ever seen, we couldn’t have asked for better, except maybe for ice cold beer on tap at every spot. Another evening passed by, chatting to Polly, Scotty, Jakes and Leon.

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Camp site, about to set up.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_455_E1 copy

My so called ‘oxtail’ flavour soy mince which I mixed with smash. Not exactly a fantastic meal. But it was light weight and killed with some chilli sauce it was good. And no sugar in it, which is bad for me…  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_456_E1 copy

Camp once the sun was down.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_460_E1 copy

Scott Reinders (right), Jakes Saaiman (left) Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_461_E1 copy

Jakes Saaiman (right) and Andrew Pollock (left. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_462_E1 copy

Andrew Pollock (right) and Leon Pieters (left)> This was the view of our little camp, more or less. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_465_E1 copy Late evening shot.

The next morning we soldiered on for quite some time. At some random spot for lunch there was a huge debate on where to get out and how we were going to get out. For an hour and a half various arrangements were made and then unmade before it was decided that the spot Celliers, Hugh and Andrew had used a few years before was just downstream and they would hopefully recognise it. Not far down, there it was, they knew the spot, thank goodness! This place was great because our shuttle drivers would also be able to find it, although after an initial phone call it seemed we would spend another night at the river due to some or other reason. But in the end, everything worked out nicely, as it always does. Hugh du Preez even managed to buy a case of ice cold quarts! Quarts are what us South Africans call beers that come in a 750ml glass bottle – very lekker!

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Jakes when he got out of his tent. I had just missed it, but about 8 dogs had almost attacked him while sitting in his tent like this. I had just gone off to collect water from the river. Scary stuff. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_467_E1 copy

Scott Reinders looking down at my sleeping arrangement.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_470_E1 copy

Early morning boiling water for oats. Photo by Scott Reinders.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_473_E1 copy

Jakes getting my paddle blade stiffer with one of my tent pegs and duct tape. Worked well.


The crack. Waves_14_May_2010_030_E1_CRThe repair. Good as new. Used it since, works 100%, maybe more than 100% now!  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_474_E1 copy

David Arnaud doing something next to the river. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_485_E1 copy

The relatively new weir. Construction ended in 2009. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_487_E1 copy

The weir. Easy to spot, has a huge pool leading up to it.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_489_E1 copy

The take out! Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_497_E1 copyThe view downstream from our take out.

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Kate Walton taming some Transkei donkeys.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_509_E1 copy

The final 4 of our group idling down to the take out.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_511_E1_CR copy

A local posing for the camera.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_515_E1 copy

Local children checking the strangers out.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_518_E1_CR copy

Hugh du Preez and Kate Walton arriving with gifts, of ice cold beer!!!!  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_521_E1 copy

Jakes Saaiman attracting attention. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_525_E1_CRSQ

Ah yes, me enjoying an ice cold beer! Photo by Scott Reinders.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_527_E1_CR

Andrew Kellett educating Hugh with a knob kierie.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_536_E1 copy

Local lady collecting water. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_539_E1 copy

Final rays of sunshine.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_542_E1_CR copy

Local dog. Poor little bugger… Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_546_E1_CR copy
David Arnaud playing with his toys! Thanks for coming out to SA, it was awesome to meet you.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_547_E1 copy

Hugh du Preez packing his pink Fluid Expedition Solo up for the trip home.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_548_E1

From left: Phil Solomon, Kate Walton and Andrew Kellett. Waiting for our transport.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_550_E1 copy

Will Clark making final adjustments. Thanks also for coming down to South Africa. Great meeting you. Next time we will ‘organise’ more water for you and David! And hope to see a new more international paddlers down here. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_551_E1_CR copyCelliers Kruger very glad to have his car back in one piece!

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Billy, the dwarf mountain goat at the backpackers looking into the kitchen. This eternal opportunist will act quickly, don’t leave anything lying around, especially food.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_567_E1 copyAndrew Pollock and David Arnaud getting some footage down.   

2 or 3 hours later we were collected by Adi, and another driver. It was dark and getting cold. Scott Reinders and I assumed the position in the back of the pick-up truck and endured a very long, and very cold journey. Luckily I had taken out my down jacket, but if I remember correctly I still had shorts on.

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Kate Walton (left) and Andrew Kellett (right) at the start of our bender. Man oh man… Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_601_E1 copy

Flower at a fence, in case you were half blind.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_607_E1_CR copy

Church in Nieu-Bethesda. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_629_E1_CR copy

Local traffic.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_633_E1_CR copy Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_634_E1 copy Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_645_E1 copy Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_650_E1 copy

Various shots from the Owl House. Creepy stuff.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_667_E1

The walls and roof are covered 100% in crushed glass. The previous owner had some deep rooted issues. Eventually she committed suicide.  Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_675_E1 copy Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_686_E1 copy Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_690_E1 copy

More weird stuff at the Owl House. Definitely worth a visit. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_693_E1_CR

Me. Vubu_17_to_25_April_2010_694_E1 copyLovely mountain in the background. 

Back at The Falls Backpackers, Angela had cooked us another scrumptious meal and that went down especially well. The trip had pretty much ended and the next day we would part our separate ways again. Andrew, Kate, Phil and I left around lunch time and started the drive. We spent a night at Nieu-Bethesda and proceeded to have a very large bender in this tiny little Karoo town. It was quite extreme. The next morning we woke up to have noticed we had lost Phil and he had not slept at the accommodation we had organised. This wasn’t surprising considering the state of all of us. After a tour of the Owl House we found him, and drove home. Hectic end to the trip! Hahaha! The drive was long and a big thanks to Andrew and Phil for driving us safely there and back. Also a big thanks to Fluid Kayaks for making it happen. Next year, please can we go during the wet season Celliers?! :-)

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.
Words by: Adrian Tregoning.