Losing to gain

The reputation of Wits Explorers has taken a fair amount of abuse over the years because of deaths on two of its expeditions. In all honestly, it must be said that considering the nature of the expeditions they attempted, and the time at which they were attempted, the explorers did very well indeed. It must also be said that we, paddlers collective, are sometimes just plain lucky that things don’t turn out worse on some of the trips that we undertake.


“I dedicate this to Duncan and Kirsty who taught me more about rivers than did anyone else in my career.” – HduP

LEAVING Senator House on Wits Campus, I bumped into a Wits Explorers poster advertising a Kunene River expedition during my summer holidays. I immediately decided that I was going. Rather arrogantly, without any thought that the expedition might not want me. (more…)

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Transkei Missions – part 1

Every expedition starts with an idea. The idea grows until someone gets interested (or obsessed) enough by the idea to put a plan in action to make it happen. This process can take weeks, months, sometimes years. Getting to run the main Tsitsa Gorge was no different.

THE Transkei – literally meaning “Across the Kei River” – conjures images of endless mountains and valleys, inhabited by traditional Xhosa people and their mythical forefathers’ spirits. It’s a true image, but not the whole truth. The Transkei boasts the type of raw beauty that only Africa can deliver, where spectacular natural scenery goes hand in hand with poverty, violence and corruption. It’s a part of South Africa that feels so remote from the civilized world that it could just as well have been in Africa’s heart of darkness. (more…)

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Orange - Blouputs to Raap-en-Skraap - slider

Orange River – Blouputs to Raap-en-Skraap

This stunning piece of the Orange River in the northern Bushmanland passes through a largely unspoilt landscape. Indigenous trees line a 50m green strip of oasis along each river-bank before giving way to the multi-coloured desert. Apart from some minor rapids and some interesting channels between islands, a peaceful trip on flat-water is guaranteed.

  • Grade: 1 to 2
  • Length: 60km
  • Ideal for: Canoe, touring kayak, raft
  • Duration: 2 to 5 day, depending on craft
  • What to expect: Long flat sections, small rapids, many channels and islands, great scenery.
  • Dam controlled: Vanderkloof Dam, Bloemhof Dam
  • Access: Public land at put-in. Take-out on private property.
  • Download Google Earth doc

(more…)

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