The Paddler magazine asked 25 world-class WW paddlers two questions, “Which is your favourite river and why?” Corran Addison, Darcy Gaechter, Darren Clarkson-King, Eric Jackson, Eric Deguil and Flo Fischer gave us their answers and more to follow over the next week…
Lachine Rapids, St Lawrence River, Canada
“By far my favourite is the Lachines on the St Lawrence River in Montreal Canada. It’s big volume, fantastic surfing waves, great ‘lines’ to run… it’s really awesome.”
Oyacachi River, Ecuador
“I’ve paddled hundreds of rivers all over the world and choosing one favourite was really tough. In the end I chose the Oyacachi River in Ecuador. It’s not the hardest or even prettiest river I’ve kayaked, but in terms of quality whitewater, consistency in runnability and the smile factor at the take-out, the Oyacachi is hard to beat.
“Whether Ecuador is experiencing ultra-low river levels or flooding, the Oyacachi delivers. It’s channelized enough to still provide fun Class IV boogie and boofs galore at the lowest of flows, and the river bed is wide enough to accommodate all but the most massive of floods. At super high water, the Oyacachi is incredibly scary, but incredibly good to go offering up some of the best and most challenging big water paddling I’ve done.
“In addition to the normal run you’ve got the Upper Oyacachi which is one of the most over-looked and under paddled classic steep sections of Ecuador. What Class V paddler wouldn’t love two days of steep creeking with an average gradient of 300-400 feet per mile? Plus, the back drop is stunning rainforest scenery, tropical birds and smooth granite boulders.
“I love this river so much that I’ve convinced Don to start guiding kayaking trips in Ecuador again—this way I’ll get to run the Oyacachi at least once a week!”
Fairy Glen, Wales, United Kingdom
“I really love loads of rivers for many reasons. The Fairy Glen wins for me – obviously Nepal and India also have special places in my heart. At the moment I love the Mo and Pho Chuu combination trip in Bhutan – classics. Clean lines, clear water and an amazing culture, it’s really awesome.”
Zambezi River, Zambia
“The Zambezi is an amazing combo of quality river running, play boating plus an epic cultural and wildlife experience as well. Big rapids, a variety of water levels and lines you can take, hot weather and every day is a full river running experience. It is a bucket list river, and perhaps the most important one on the planet.”
Cauterets River, France
“I originally thought there were no interesting rivers in the Pyrenees, none high enough to catch the snow and none big enough to receive substantial rain.
“However, since then I’ve been living in front of the Pyrenees for 15 years with a full life suffice to explore those wonderful mountains. North or south side are so different and flying from west to east is like crossing a continent. So many different landscapes and geology that mother nature has shaped perfectly for paddlers!
“I came to Pau for study and training for slalom and I’ve stayed here addicted to the Cauterets River. Few paddlers know this steep, continuous and technical river, 15 kilometres of pure fun from April through to August. Class IV,V and more if you want to try.”
The Thule Bheri, Nepal
“Naming your favourite river is not the easiest assignment. Well, when do you call a river, ‘My favourite river?’ There are so many aspects: whitewater, landscape, culture, team or weather, just to name a few. Or is it just a combination of many aspects?
“For me, my favourite river is the Thule Bheri River in western Nepal. Not just because of the white water itself. It is because of the whole adventure you experience there. You have to take a small plane to a gravel-airstrip in the middle of nowhere in the Himalayan Mountains. Look for some Sherpas and walk another one and a half days upstream through Dunai all the way to Tarakot. From there, you start your trip on a small and steep river with fully packed boats to follow the waters for the upcoming five days until the river gets bigger and bigger and you will reach the first road access at a muddy ‘road’ in the middle of nowhere in a Himalayan valley. An insane adventure with whitewater up to Class V trough a deep valley with impressive granite canyons.
“It is not only the experience of the river that brings these insane memories but also my buddies, Joerg Hackinger and Jakub Sedivy, who contributed a huge piece in making this my favourite river.”