Commercial river-running

In today’s climate of increasingly stressful jobs and never-ending deadlines, many people are not only eager to get out there in the wilds, but are also willing to pay for the opportunity. On the other hand, a cult of adrenaline-junkies has emerged. Put these two groups together, and the ideal opportunity for commercial operators appears.

Commercial rafting and canoeing have become a major tourist attraction, supplying work for hundreds of professional river guides and taking thousands of clients on anything from easy half-day excursions to serious multi-day expeditions. A diverse range of commercial activities is available: from creeking to big-volume experiences, from team-building cruises to adrenaline-pumping action; every taste is catered for. The crafts that are used include 2-man rafts, the bigger 6- or 8-man rafts, fibreglass canoes and even kayaks.

The voice of the commercial scene is APA (African Paddlers Association, formerly SARA) that regulates safety standards, handles Public Relations and provides training for river guides. Every operator has to be registered at APA. All guides, freelance or permanent, must have completed APA-accredited Swiftwater Training and have a valid First Aid Certificate. Clients are advised to check on these two aspects, as fly-by-night operators rear their ugly heads from time to time. APA represents the full variety of commercial operations on flat-water, swiftwater and coastal waters, including canoeing, kayaking, rafting, sea kayaking/rafting, as well as minority sports such as tubing.