Paddling 101

Water has been used for transport in most civilisations of the world since ancient times. Through the centuries the shapes of the boats frequently underwent dramatic changes, depending not only on the circumstances and purposes, but also on the knowledge and skill of the builders. The waters that were travelled on ranged from seas and oceans to lakes and slow-moving rivers. Because of inadequate equipment and a lack of understanding of the hydraulics created by the rapids, man rarely ventured into fast-flowing rivers.

It was only with the advent of synthetic materials in the 20th century, that it became possible to design equipment able to withstand the punishment received in rapids. This then led to the exploration of previously unrunnable rivers, during which valuable firsthand knowledge of rapids was gained. Commercial rafting and kayaking was the next step, which introduced novices to the enticing lure of white water. A dynamic sport emerged, with ever-increasing numbers of nature-lovers and adrenaline-junkies taking to the water. The focus has also shifted dramatically from what it used to be on the open waters: whitewater river-running is no longer aimed at being a means of transport, but it is taken to be an aim in itself…

History and status quo of paddling in Southern Africa

Boat designs and the different aspects of white water paddling

Classification of rivers

Safety

Environmental aspects and low-impact camping

General advice

Recreational and competitive river-running

Commercial river-running

Sea Kayaking

Information for foreign paddlers visiting Southern Africa