River Rafting

A Red Day of River Rafting
- 6 December 2012 -

Back to South Africa, and back to Parys. But this time I'm not exploring the streets of Parys, but rather exploring the waters. 

The day started off with me arriving as usual, before everybody else, but not quite as early as I am use to, but early enough to be the only 1 of 2 people there. I would have been the only one if my breakfast I bought along the way wasn't raw and I didn't have to turn around to get it sorted. 

So I arrived and decided to get some photos of the river and surrounding area of the meeting point at Rocky Ridge just past the town of Parys. 

Currently the festive and holiday season, businesses tend to have Christmas and year-end functions. This was one of those days. I am allocated to the treasury division to do some work on a project, and treasury was kind enough to invite me and some other colleagues  along to their year-end function. White water rafting in Parys. 

Having some time to kill before the bulk of the people started arriving I had a chat to the lead guide, Werner, for the events company X Factor Events which would be taking us down the river. I had a problem, I have expensive camera equipment and my equipment is not water proof. I explained my dilemma and Werner was kind enough to find a way to make it work, he offered to split my camera equipment (camera body and 2 lens) between 2 Pelican waterproof boxes which goes on the rafts, above this Werner suggested that I paddle out with him to stop off at strategic spots and climb out to get photos of all my colleagues. This was an excellent suggestion and I really appreciated the effort.

Werner also explained that he will be taking us up river about 8km, our kick off point, from there we will raft down in 2 man inflatable rafts. The amount of people expected was 40.

Most people were coming via a bus arranged by ABSA (my work) and were departing from the office, but some of us decided to take our own cars. I wasn't there long until others started to arrive in drip and drabs.

The problem is that we were all supposed to there at 9:00am sharp, but the bus, as I expected was taking longer than expected and only arrived at 9:40am. 

First everyone had to sign a personal indemnity form and then start boarding the safari bus. The safari bus was planned to make 2 trips as it can only take 24 and we were 40 people in total.

I climbed on the first bus and arrived in no time at the started point. When we arrived, all the inflatables, life jackets and helmets were all ready and waiting for us. 

It was at this point I learned that we would have to pick a rowing partner and there would be a total of 4 guides on the water with us. I picked Gowthami as my partner a very quiet but sweet lady working together on the same project. It also didn't take long for the others to pick a partner and climb into their rafts. Aurelie and Ilse were the first ones in, regardless if it was on water or not, but it was a good place to chill while everyone got ready.

Everyone was excited and keen to get on the water.

A smaller group of rafters (the blue rafters) in the meantime had arrived next to us, they were a substantially smaller group so were able to get out onto the water way before us. They did catch our (the red rafters) attention and it looks as if they stole some our red life jackets..... or my ABSA colleagues just didn't want to wait and joined the other group.

Eventually it was time for the safety speech. Everyone was instructed to climb into their rafts with their partner and wait for Werner.

The speech went quick, and it was time to stash my camera in the little boxes provided. The plan was to get the camera out on the first stop as Werner and myself had discussed. 

The water was quite calm, which gave us a chance to mess about and get use to the rafts and our partners.

The first rapids was basically a small bump, but it can still be a little nerve wrecking, especially since it was the first time for some of us.

The small rapids supplied some with the opportunity to break the safety rules, like waving at the camera (or pointing).

It wasn't long before everyone was past the first rapids and for some probably a comfort that they had survived the first round. The next set of rapids is called "Big Daddy", and like the name suggests, this is the biggest rapids of the route. Once again I went ahead with Werner to get in place before everyone else arrived. It was agreed that my partner will move over and join another lady in the group and I will go with Werner in his raft, it just made sense.

The first arrivers made it clear... this was going to be fun!

Being the first over these rapids, I understood how it feels, when you in the boat the rapids and waves look a lot bigger, but I wasn't going to dare try take photos of that, at least not this time round.

Eventually it was time for my "ex-partner" Gowthami to go through with her new rafting partner. They tried a new trick and went through backwards.

That was the last of the "big" rapids and shortly after this I resumed my position in the raft with Gowthami, the biggest was over and it was probably a good idea I steer the raft from this point forward.

After "Big Daddy" we reached a clearing with very calm waters where we took a drinks break, it was a welcomed break. My arms were killing me, they we sore and I had probably lost most of a body fluid through perspiration. I finished 1 litre of bottled water during this break. I also decided, like many others that it was time to take a swim in the river. I dipped my paddle in the water to see how deep it was. It was deep, despite trying all effort I could not feel the bottom, anyway we had life jackets and the water was calm here. 

Getting back into the boat was probably the biggest challenge for most of us. I eventually got in but only after some very useful advise from a colleague, to grab the seat and then jump in. Clearly not everybody got the same advise.

After the drinks break we headed to the last rapids of the day, getting there was the problem at this stage, it was about 30 minute of rowing in flat calm water, and where a wind had also developed, blowing in the opposite direction. I think at this point there was a lot of exhausted people. However we did get there and  these rapids were not as big as "Big Daddy" but did have some interesting spots, where I could stop off for some photos.

Proof of why you shouldn't wave at the camera!

Some have interesting expressions, some wave, some just smile.

Now that Gowthami was back with me, she had to wait off on the rocks while I took some photos. She was very patient.

The day was almost over, just a few more to go.

The last rapids were smaller, continuous  rapids where we could move a bit quicker. After 2.5 hours, this was welcomed. I was keen to see and feel solid ground and give my clearly unfit body a rest. 

Interesting to see that everybody was smiling, tired but happy. It was time for a group photo. Werner was kind enough to take a photo with me included (Black and White one).

Lunch was planned with drinks, I avoided the drinks as I still had to drive 150km back to Centurion.

A photo by Werner with his GoPro camera of me on the rocks taking my own photos.

All in all the day was a huge success. And all I can say is, thank you. Thank you ABSA, thank you treasury for inviting me along, thank you colleagues for an excellent day, thank you Werner, thank you X factor, thank you guides and thank you friends.

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