Sunday, January 27, 2008

Inxu River, Transkei - South Africa

Tyler Brandt gets the Inxu 50' in the heart of Transkei - South Africa

Approaching the whitewater of South Africa one’s mind will wander with the details of a country so vast it's hard to remember that you're in a place nicknamed the Dark Continent. Approaching from the west, our own journey into South African rivers began as Namibian desert was replaced by a windy Cape and pristine ocean. It would be an unplanned route through a diverse part of Africa. Our destination was to be the rivers of the Transkei.

Once a designated homeland during South Africa’s harsh apartheid, the Transkei still remains a place where time and beauty are about as relaxed as the dotted tribal villages laying beneath the Drakensberg mountains. A two week exposure to some of the most unknown rivers in the country with a perfect setting and good friends.

The Inxu was paddled once before back in 2006 when Adriaan Badenhorst was beginning to make the Transkei a permanent place called home. Coming from a life spent on South African rivers, Adrian found SA’s final chapter for whitewater exploration on his new doorstep.

Near the town of Maclear the tributaries of the Umzimvubu fall from the high plateau through unseen gorges. Although many sections and other rivers remain to be explored, the Inxu has all the characteristics of a serious classic. A relatively easy shuttle puts you paddling along tranquil grassland before entering a quality boulder strewn gorge and eventually two bomb drops of 50’ and 35’ respectively.

Basso - Inxu 35'

Adriaan and a friend would have the perfect flow to claim the big falls there own, but at the end of a long day everyone in the first decsent left the second waterfall downstream for another day. So the time would arrive nearly 2 years later when our group would make the claim.

The Inxu would not go down without at fight from the rain gods who were playing water levels away from the season and leaving us waiting in wonder. In the end we became somewhat battered and wishing for a higher flow that would not come. And so we paddled under sunny hot January skies with some boneyard sections and tight lines on the falls.

A sincere thank you goes out to Adriaan and his new wife Angela for the awesome hospitality in their soon to be famous highland adventure destination. For more information leave your guidebook at home and just go to where South Africa becomes the Transkei.

View Inxu River (IV-V) in a larger map