The first challenge of the day was a portage. The river dropped down into a gorge, so we jumped out, hauled the boats to the cliff edge and prepared to abseil them down. Ant, our guide, lowered the boats and then we formed a chain to pass them into the water. I think he was quite impressed at how we worked together to complete the process so quickly and efficiently. The whole trip has been full of valuable lessons on working together, communicating effectively, trusting each other, reading the situation and planning ahead!
The next challenge the river threw at us required us to use the skills we’d been honing so far, and remember those lessons. Big Bunny; the swiftest, deadliest rapid of the river. We all climbed the cliff beside the river to assess what lay before us. The water ran wildly, rocks and waves forming dangerous obstacles which we had to plan a route through, so that once we were in the water and could no longer see what was coming and had little time to react, we could come through without ending up in the water! Ant showed us the route and then it was our turn. The waves and current challenged our well laid plans, but other than a few 360s, we came through beautifully and no one capsized, although everyone was very wet and Ant had expected that we were going to swim!
The rest of the paddling was quite easy and we finished much sooner than expected, so some people swam a bit and then the Young Explorers climbed up a rocky mountain to get a photo of us on top. It was a decent scramble to get up, and by the colour and shape of the rocks we could see how high the river rose when flooded – it was so high it was hard to comprehend. It also brought home how low the river is now: due to irrigation pressure the river runs at only half its natural level.
At the end we met two local shepherds and Nadja and Seb gave their Wenger Swiss Army Knives to them which made them very happy. And now it’s back to PANGAEA for our next adventure and hopefully calmer waters!