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Balkan Rivers Tour 4 – Wildwater in Wild Romania

Story | Balkan River Defence

Photos| Katja Pokorn and Mitja Legat

Balkan Rivers Tour 4 has just started, on the stunning rivers and deep in the wild forests of Romania! The Balkan River Defence (BRD) crew have taken on a new formula for this year’s action, with 3, one-week mini tours in new locations! Instead of changing the location every day they will set a basecamp for each week and use it as a place to network, develop a river defence plan and kayak, fish, or hike. Balkan Rivers Tour’s purpose has always been to expose amazing places and to directly help passionate locals fighting for their rivers, and BRT4 Week 1 in Romania was a perfect example of this in action!

Day 1 | Twenty kayakers from 11 countries put on the Basca Mica River in Romania, and enjoyed its boulder gardens for 23km to BRT basecamp where the campfire and rakiu (local liquor) kept them warm and merry!

Day 2 | Day 2 started with a meeting with the mayor of the town of Nehoiu who is supportive of sustainable development and eco-tourism in the valley instead of dams. After the meeting, it felt good to get wet and experience the local rafting run, the Buzau River.

Day 3 | Today provided a painful insight of the river; the Basca Mare is an amazing river in the midst of thick forests with loads of gradient and rapids – a paradise for kayaking and fly-fishing. But at its headwaters in the middle of Natura 2000 protected area, Romanian government-run company Hidroelectrica is trying (currently lacking funds) to build a dam that would divert the whole river into a 20 km long pipe that would supply poorly designed Siriului reservoir with more water and leave Basca Mare completely dry. Want to help prevent this genocide over nature? Help fund the lawyer bringing the case to court via

Day 4 | Day 4 was action packed! First thing in the morning the crew had a meeting with mayor of Gura Teghii about the dam plans and incredible eco-tourism potential of the valley, then they headed up to Basca Mare with kayaks again (to pull off a possible first descent of the upper gorge). In the evening, the kayakers got hooked on fly fishing with the help of local fly fishing expert George Minculete.

Day 5 | Off to the local primary school in Gura Teghii to hang around with 110 local kids. Workshops, presentations, an invitation to tomorrow’s clean up, and just sharing ideas with a young generation that understands the whole thing so well was motivating and inspiring! They said, “There will be no dam on Basca Mare!” Now we are getting ready for the grand finale – a big cleanup action Live Green Every Day-eveniment de implicare civica si ecologica and rafting in the AM, and then The Undamaged screening and PARTY in the evening.

Day 6 | The final day of BRT4 – Week 1: Romania started with a frosty Saturday morning. The kayakers warmed up with some Țuică and ventured off to Nehoiu for a big river clean up with Let’s Do It, Romania!. Then, back to the Basca Mare again, which charged them up for the evening screening of The Undamaged and a crazy Balkan party. Romania, its wild rivers, and warm people, rock! Let’s all make sure they will keep on rocking on.

1000 thanks to local river defender and our friend Catalin Campeanu, outfitter Green Adventure, host campsite NewOld Village, and everybody that made this week so extremely good!

Day 7 | The BRT4 crew had trouble leaving Romania… so on their way back home, they took part in a special event on a very special river. Jiu River is a story of success. It’s a symbol of free-flowing rivers in Romania and its mountainous flow was the reason for the declaration of a National Park around it. This didn’t stop Hidroelectrica from trying to build a dam on it 2 years ago. What stopped them was the passionate determination of local activists! Seeing a nearly completed dam with a wild river running through it was simply amazing. But kayaking with a crew of cool people to show respect to Arthur – local kayaker and river defender who passed away rafting exactly a year ago on Jiu River – was the best way to end our mission in Romania. This one goes to Arthur, his family and the whole whitewater tribe!

Follow along and make a plan to join Soca River week of BRT4 July 7-13th for film screenings, kayaking, parties, and protests!

More info, here: