I’ve been paddling the Palmiet since I moved to Cape Town in 2008 and always only paddled the short section. But on 27 June 2009 I finally managed to paddle the full length section. The normal (short) section is only 3.5km long but it has some fun rapids and they are spaced quite close together with interesting palmiet (a type of plant) channels in between to keep things fun. The full section is 21km and consists of more flat water and a few fun rapids. The put in requires a long drive around and also permission from the land owners to get on the property. It’s a huge commercial farm at the put in and there are gates (with a guard) that control it so don’t think you can just head up and hook it.

Our group consisted of Stuart MacMillan, Peter Ridgway, Corné van Daalen, Uno de Waal, Stefano Sessa, Rowan Walpole, Kieran Tinsley, Abrie Swanepoel and of course, me. So the 9 of us made quite a large group. The river started off with some pretty extreme tree/bush channels. Peter led the way and either through luck or good memory he managed to guide us through these horrible mazes. 3km from the start is a weir. We portaged this. It has a bit of a line but one has got to ask oneself, it is worth it?

Palmiet full length

The Palmiet River, ending just west of Kleinmond here in the Western Cape, South Africa. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_007_E1 copy

On the way in early in the morning.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_011_E1_CR copy

Loads of dolphins out on their morning hunt. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_012_E1 copy

Rowan Walpole stoked about the dolphins, I would think. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_024_E1 copy

Corné van Daalen very happy to be heading up. I think most people in our hadn’t done this section before. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_026_E1_CR copy

Stefano Sessa sitting tightly up front! Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_029_E1_CR copy

Early morning and cold next to the Palmiet. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_030_E1_CR copy

Stefano Sessa. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_031_E1_CR copy

Uno de Waal. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_032_E1_CR copy

Rowan (aka Southside) Walpole. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_033_E1 copyThe put in for the full section. Check for strainers before you paddle under that bridge. 

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The weir we portaged.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_047_E1 copy

Portaging the nasty waterfall.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_049_E1 copy

Looking down at the waterfall.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_050_E1 copy

There it is.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_066_E1 copy

And viewed from downstream.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_067_E1 copyThe portage involves lowering the boats with ropes, and a bit of rock climbing. 

From here we enjoyed several average rapids and loads more sections with water moving swiftly through the trees. One has to be careful. At the waterfall we obviously portaged. It has been run once before by Andrew Kellett but it will probably be a very long time before someone runs it again - a truly horrible drop.

Shortly after the waterfall are some more rapids and it was here where Kieran took a big knock to the head and consequently swam. His boat got caught up in some trees but eventually we got it out. It was a big hit but he seemed more or less ok but we kept a sharp eye on him anyway. A few more rapids, not many I might add, with some longer flat sections and then we joined up to run the normal section which is always good fun.

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Kieran Tinsley with a rather large bump on his head. Oh yes, he chipped a tooth too. OUCH. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_071_E1_CR copy

Lunch stop on the Palmiet. Very quiet place to relax and unwind.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_076_E1 copy

Idling down some flat water. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_080_E1_CR copy

Everyone enjoying the peace. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_084_E1_CR copy

Kieran Tinsley on a rapid just above the normal put in. This rapid is actually quite nice so when you walk up for the short section you may wish to walk another kilometre for this.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_094_E1_CR copy

Abrie Swanepoel on the same drop.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_097_E1 copyStefano Sessa coming through.

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Me boofing the pourover line of Waterfall. Photo by someone there. Can’t remember now! Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_156_E1_CR copy

Corné cruising through easily.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_176_E1_CR copy

Abrie with a lekker boof on the pourover line too.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_237_E1 copy

Peter Ridgway leads the way down Judgement Day rapid, the final one. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_242_E1_CRP copy

Rowan Walpole in Judgement Day. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_247_E1_CR copy

Rowan Walpole finished. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_252_E1_CR copyCorné just past the Gates of Judgement Day. Happy days!

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A look up at Judgement Day. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_260_E1 copy

And a closer look. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_263_E1_CR copy

Back in the parking lot.  Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_264_E1 copy

The take out. We then had to drive up to fetch the cars at the top. Palmiet_full_section_27_June_2009_267_E1_CR copyScenery on the way to pick up the cars. Great day.  

The level we had was quite high and the section doesn’t actually take too long. Most people I had spoken to complained how long and flat it was but I think the people here in the Cape are just used to very short runs. It’s a fun run, not too long, although I definitely wouldn’t do it more than once or twice a year and would rather run the short section two or three times in a row. All in all, another great day on the water.

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.

Words by: Adrian Tregoning.

This will be (I think) the last article from 2009 and everything from now on will be from stuff that has happened very recently. Stay tuned! :-)