On the way to the South – episode #1

For the last three years after the season in sLOVEnia I have always ended up in South or Central America and this year wasn´t any different. Traveling with a kayak around the world is one of the most exciting and interesting ways of traveling for me. But as we know traveling by airplane is quite hard and in my case by bus too, if you have a kayak with you. After a great season of paddling in Europe, Resc and I came to Brazil for a three month working holiday.

 As I am a raft guide and also a kayaker, working in rafting and kayaking are perfect combinations for me.

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Brotas at São Paulo state was our destination. A small city in the middle of the country with so many things to offer, especially white water activities, so once more I was back at my place where everything about white water started, “sweet home”.

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Jacare is a level V river with challenging lines. The nature is amazing with its many animal species. It is easy for you to see a monkey and sometimes get to see the Toucan bird crossing the sky.

Parque dos Saltos is my favourite part of the river a perfect area with beautiful nature and extreme white water to play and have fun with.

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It is a great place with few waterfalls where I practise my technics and the best thing about it is that it is just five minutes by foot from my place.

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To get back home after a long journey abroad always makes me happy, knowing that I will never forget where I am coming from. For Resc everything was new as it was his first time in Brazil, so he was the happiest boy from Soca Valley.

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We were working and kayaking every day and for me it was a pleasure showing him my home. He was a bit lost about so many things because he didn’t speak Portuguese but after a while everything was fine.

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On the other hand nothing was new for me and after a month I started to realise that it was time to get on the road again! Before I came to Brazil I had a plan to go to Chile but I postponed it after an interesting conversation with a friend of mine saying, “Tony you spend more time abroad then in your own country.” Those words stuck strong in my mind and it was not hard to find my next destination.

Here began my unforgettable and unpredictable expedition to the South. It was a long and exciting way to get the best trip ever…

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Somehow Resc did not come with me so I started the expedition to south Brazil alone. I had all my gear with me and a kayak, including camping and photography gear, my computer and my clothes of course. In total it was around 53kg of equipment. At the beginning I did not think about it at all, I just knew that it would be possible, so I left Brotas by bus for a three weeks kayak expedition with five new rivers on the list.

It was a few buses and almost 28 hrs on the road. On the way one of the buses got a flat tire. The driver said “we are going to fix the tire or change the bus and until then you can have coffee time.” I went to the toilet, had a coffee and in the mean time they changed the bus and left me there without my gear and my valuables. Their destination was 45km further than my end stop so there was nothing left to do other then take the next bus to Rio do Sul where I got everything back and then I took another bus to finally end up in Ativa´s base, a rafting Company around 9km from Apiúna city, having one of the best rivers for kayaking in Brazil: the Itajai Acú river.

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There I joined Andrey Robbis, a Costarican kayaker that I met in Otztal, Austria at Adidas Sick Line event. The idea to join Andrey was great, because in Otztal he asked me about Brazil and told me that it was his wish to go there. It was nice to meet him again and also he has been at that river for a while already.

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After a few hours that I spent at Ativa´s base it was time to take the kayak and get in action. We went to Aventura, the lower section of Itajaí Acú and finally after a tiring journey I was able to kayak in South Brazil.

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Andrey and I had so much fun enjoying a class III+ section with nice drops, cool waves and a perfect water level.

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To top it off, the take out was at the Ativa´s base where we chilled out, had a nice meal and I put up my tent. And that is how my first kayaking day in the South ended.

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At Itajai Acu we paddled three sections that are runnable on that river: Aventura class III+, Radical IV and Paraiso class V. I spent five days paddling and working as a safety kayaker at this river. After a couple of days of looking forward to rain, when finally got enough water to run the Paraiso section.

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Our crew consisted of nine kayakers and rafters! Andrey, Marcelo Hertel and I by kayak and other six by raft, as when the water level is high enough, it is possible to run it by raft too. When we got our boats in the water Claudio, the most experienced guy in that river, said that the water is dropping quickly, so we decided to start paddling immediately. At the beginning it was all OK, we were having fun. At one of those drops the guys decided to run it by raft.  The drop was around 5 meters high with a deep pool and rocks on the sides. When it landed in the flat pool the guys were thrown in the water. Nobody was hurt and that was our funniest moment on that trip. After a few hundred meters lower down the river we found out that the Dam above was diverting water and if we would not rush we would be in trouble.

Hertel was the only kayaker who knew that section well and Claudio who was by raft too. Until there was still day light we were managing well, but after a while we got ourselves into a dark and dangerous situation with a class V gorge full of siphons and there was no way out. All around were huge rocks, steep walls and deep bushes. As there was no other choice, we decided to continue. Hertel had his gopro turned on, he was leading the way and we were following the red light from the back of his gopro.  Finally we finished our trip around 10 p.m. and that was one of the hardest kayak experiences in my life.

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Once I reached my goal to paddle the three sections of Itajai Acu river it was time to move on. As I met Hertel on this trip, he offered me a ride to Jaragua do Sul where I would meet Marcelo Ludvichak. Hertel´s offer to take me there was great because I was traveling with 53kg of equipment by bus, otherwise it would have been my sixth bus thus far. Hertel and I left Ativa´s base in Apiuna City for my next goal – The Red River. At that time I have done my first river in five days with great experiences.

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On the way to the next city Hertel invited me to join his Chile expedition that would begin in December 23rd. That was exactly when I would finish my expedition from South Brazil and join my family and friends for Christmas and New Year. As I had already planned everything it was not easy to answer him YES, so I asked him to give me a bit of time to think about how I could make it happen.

After a few hours driving we arrived to Jaragua do Sul where Hertel introduced me to Marcelo Ludvichak, the kayaker that would show me the Red River…

There are a few more rivers until I decide to join Hertel´s crew! The next post, which is the second part, is coming soon… until then lets go paddle;)

Buena Linea…

Alpin Action www.alpinaction.it

Ophion Paddles www.ophionpaddles.com

Everything is much better when we have the right equipment.