The Paddler magazine asked 25 world-class WW paddlers two questions, “Which is your favourite river and why?” Gerd Serrasolses, Joe Morley, Jordy Searle, Mariann Saether, Mat Dumoulin, Mike Dawson and Nick Troutman gave us their answers and more to follow over the next week…
Little White Salmon, United States
“The Ldub is my favourite river to paddle all day, everyday! Its water is the purest, tastiest and has the most beautiful colour you can imagine. Surrounded by the most amazing old growth forest huge trees standing on the banks of the river covered in moss and dense vegetation, it’s an amazing place by itself that just gets better with all the rapids.
“In the winter and spring when the river is high, the rapids are stacked one after the other, there’s no flat water and few places to stop, the river moves fast and you flow with it. All the rapids are different and technical, there are multiple lines and things to do and learn, it’s the best playground there is, from boulder gardens to bed rock to drops and the perfect waterfall, it just has it all.
“An Ldub lap at high water with your bros is my favourite thing to do, it makes me so happy. I love this place, I love this river and I love the people around it.”
Brandenburger Ache, Austria
“A favourite river is hard to call but I’m going to say the Brandenburger Ache in Austria. I remember paddling it way back in the day when I was pretty young and it was the first really tight gorge I’d ever dropped into (the top section).
“Since then I’ve visited a few times and always kept an eye on it when I’ve been in the area but it’s proven to be pretty elusive, which I think makes it seem even better in my head! The walkways along the side of the gorge are beautiful too and scouting is a pretty different experience to most rivers!”
Toaroha Canyon, NZ
“My favourite river in the world would have to be Toaroha Canyon. The Kokatahi, North Fork Payette and Stikine are all close contenders but there is something about T Canyon that is special to me.
“The beautiful but gruelling hike-in is a satisfying entrance fee, the river and its waters are pristine and the whitewater is word class. A free hut and hot-pools are the put-in and it’s only a 25-minute drive to fish and chips by the ocean from the take-out. It is definitely the gem of the West Coast (NZ).”
Raundalselvi River, Norway
“It is never easy to pick a favourite river but in later years I have decided that the Raundalselvi River in Voss is my favourite – for a few reasons.
“First of all, this is where I spend most of my time. The river is more than 35kms long – untouched – and it is all quality, runnable whitewater. It has nine different sections on it and the section that’s run perhaps the most, is the Trainstation section (class IV/V), which ends at my door step.
“This river includes famous features like the waterfall Nosebreaker and the Marine Canyon – but also world class surf waves at certain levels, crystal clear pristine water and green lush surroundings. It does not matter what the water level – there is always something good to paddle on with the Raundalselvi. I like to call it the little brother of Futaleufú, Chile – another one of my absolute favourites and another where I also own a property.
“You can normally paddle on the Raundalselvi 8-9 months out of the year, which is outstanding for Norway where most rivers freeze entirely over the winter!”
Zambezi River, Zambia
“The Zambezi River is on the top of my list. I like this big and powerful playground. The waves shape up perfectly and tall for hitting big surfs and big lines, and the surrounding is amazing in the gorge.
“Also Livingstone is a very welcoming town that gives very unique experiences to the easy going kayakers visiting, including some of the best parties on the planet.”
Kaituna River, NZ
“Tucked away in a quiet lakeside village called Okere Falls, is the home to my favourite river – the Kaituna. It’s a carefree part of the world with warm water flowing continuously day after day during the endless New Zealand summers.
“It is my home river – the place I learnt my craft and like a magnet it draws me back year after year. For me, the Kaituna River is the perfect stomping ground for pushing the skill set with so many kick-ass kayakers hanging out there.
“Lap after lap on the slalom course, having fun times fooling around in the forgiving rapids or just sipping a beer on sunset with buddies; this place has it all – and it never gets old. A tight narrow gorge littered with native trees and culture. To top it off there’s countless whitewater gems within a few hours drive.”
Ottawa River, Canada
“My top three would be, the Zambezi, Rio Alseseca, and taking home top honours would be the Ottawa River. It might come as no surprise to some that the Ottawa River would be my favourite being that I grew up there and learned to kayak on the river, though all bias aside this river is epic.
“When it comes to playboating, there might not be a single river in the world that could rival the Ottawa River. It is home to many top freestyle features and something to surf at any level with features such as, Garburator, Buseater, Gladiator, Corner Wave, Right and Left Side Horse Shoe, Baby Face, Push Button, Upper No Name Wave, 7-up hole, Triple Nipple Wave, Odyssey, Phil’s Hole, S-bend, Waikiki Wave to name a few off the top of my head.
“The river is also huge and epicly long, with new waves and features being found further up and down stream like Secret Spot, Ruins Wave, and Bryson Bowl. The river’s unique with the fact that there are two channels, essentially two totally separate rivers that share the same put-in and take-out. It is great in all seasons (except winter), where spring brings high water and some of the biggest waves in the world. Summer is filled with warm, deep water and great features along the whole river, autumn no line ups as you watch the leaves change colour. To conclude, after travelling all over the globe I am always excited to come home to the Ottawa no matter what level or time of year.”