The Paddler magazine asked 25 world-class WW paddlers two questions, “Which is your favourite river and why?” Nouria Abou-Newman, Rafa Ortiz, Sandra Hyslop, Steve Brooks, Tim Burne and Tomass Marnics gave us their answers…
Grand Canyon of the Stikine, BC, Canada
“It is hard to pick up a favourite river because it’s not just about the river itself but also the people you were with and the experience you had on it. My home river in La Plagne is one of my favourites, I know it is nothing exceptional but I truly love it. I have many favourite rivers but if I have to name one particular one I would go for the Grand Canyon of the Stikine.
“I love big water and there is no such place as the Stikine for that. But what makes it my favourite isn’t the scary/fun whitewater. It is the magic of the canyon and the way you feel as you enter it.
“I’m privileged to get to see such a beautiful untouched place. Insignificant in face of the huge cliffs and rapids and yet so free while being trapped in between massive walls. I remember being scared and stressed, but also calm and peaceful, excited and stoked, alive…HAPPY.” Photographs Quebec Connexion.
Rio Santo Domingo, Chiapas, Mexico
“I would definitely say the Rio Santo Domingo, Chiapas, Mexico.” Unfortunately for us, Rafa was on a road trip from Mexico to the US state of Washington – a very long drive. So we never got to find the reason why, though judging by these photos – it’s pretty obvious…
Apurimac River, Peru
“It is difficult to put a finger on one river that you like above all others as every river offers something different. However, over this past year I have spent a lot of time paddling on the Apurimac River in Peru.
“Apurimac in Quechua roughly translates to ‘speaker of the gods’ and when in the depths of this stunning canyon you can see where the ancient Incas were coming from with this name, it remains a special and sacred place. The whitewater is spectacular in all three sections I’ve run but more than that it is an incredible place just to be. The two commercial sections offer some of the best multi-day rafting in the world and kayakers aren’t left bored either with numerous grade 4/5 rapids and excellent river-play.
“The Abysmo Canyon offers the challenge of more serious whitewater still in an amazing setting with the opportunity to hike up to the Choquequirao ruins, roughly the size of Macchu Picchu but far less visited. If sitting on a beautiful sandy beach watching condors circle overhead after a great day of whitewater paddling sounds good to you… you should check out the Apurimac!”
Colca Canyon, Peru
“Of all the questions I get asked, ‘What is my favourite river?’ It has to be the hardest one to answer!
“I have kayaked some amazing rivers and whitewater around the world: the Sun Koshi in Nepal during monsoon. In India the Tsarap Chu and Zanskar Gorge, Ladakh, Beas Gorge and Chandra in Himachal Pradesh. Zambezi and the White Nile in Africa. The Cotahuasi Canyon and mighty Rio Apurimac in Peru. Of course my home rivers of Austria and the Giarsun Gorge section of the River Inn, Switzerland, which is the section of river we compare to when we paddle any new river around the globe.
“However, what tops them all is the Colca Canyon in Peru. A canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon it is set in some of the most spectacular terrain on the planet, stunning whitewater, remote and committing, just expedition pure!”
Fairy Glen, Wales, United Kingdom
“Whilst a little clichéd for a UK boater, my favourite section of whitewater has to be the Fairy Glen, mainly because I’ve got so many great memories of it.
“I first paddled it over ten years ago with a group of guys that I didn’t know, none of whom had run it before. We were all a bit apprehensive since ‘The Glen’ had quite a reputation, but we didn’t encounter any problems and discovered a classic section of technical whitewater. Since then I’ve paddled it in huge groups; I’ve run it solo; I’ve blasted down with local boaters in sub-8 minute descents; equally I’ve taken a good few hours to get down it when the levels were far higher than I’d done it before and I had no idea what the features were like.
“I even took my dad (aged 60+) for a lap a couple of years ago, as it’s one of those classic rivers that he wanted to do before he got ‘too old’! What makes the section even sweeter is that it is (just) near enough to home for an after work summer run when levels permit.
“Sadly the Fairy Glen is under threat from a Hydro scheme which will severely reduce the number of days that the river is paddleable. This is a huge loss as often it is the only section of whitewater at it’s grade in the entire country that is running. For more information see http://savetheconwy.com/”
Biluti river, Siberia, Russia
“It is hard to spot only one favourite river. I have a few in my mind which are different from each other and in my personal opinion are great for kayaking.
“Firstly, the Biluti River (Sayan Mountains/Russia) – amazingly beautiful river with lots of whitewater and just mind blowing surrounding nature. I like this river because it is remote, there are no people, no roads and it is still too far from civilization. Relatively easy whitewater with clean lines, but you always have the opportunity to step it up and run something bigger and harder. There are still couple of rapids which we’ve ran only a few times. So it is also quite challenging to run it from top to bottom without portages.
“Secondly, the Bashkaus River (Altai Mountains/Russia) – legendary river with a committing lower gorge. I love this place because of its spiritual power. Deep canyon with vertical walls, very challenging whitewater and feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world. Always happy to go back there. “If I will have to choose one, then probably Biluti, however, there are many rivers I would love to put on the same scale.”