Pyranha Logo
facebook twitter vimeo


Can’t Hit the River? This is the Blog for You!

When I made the decision to attend Columbus State University, I expected to be kayaking at least three to four times a week; the Chattahoochee is 15 minutes from CSU! I did not expect that I’d kayak less here than I ever have in the past 15 years.

Managing two jobs and being a full-time student, taking anywhere from 16-18 credits a semester, doesn’t leave much free time for paddling! Even if I couldn’t paddle, I did my best to hit the gym. Then my mental health severely declined and the idea of going kayaking was less fun and staying in bed seemed better. Now I am working towards paddling as much as I can and still hitting the gym to be the best athlete I can be.

Good Wave, Chattahoochee

This semester, I am working two jobs, hopefully doing an internship here and there, and taking 15 credits too. This doesn’t leave much free time for me, but I have managed to hit the gym six times a week, along with paddling at least twice a week. I wanted to give my best tips and tricks to stay in shape while not being able to paddle as often as one would like. Hitting the gym has been my best option, that being lifting weights and rock climbing.

If you asked me two years ago if I would go rock climbing, I would tell you that you are out of your mind. I have a huge fear of heights, and I would not want to portage or rerun rapids if it meant I had to climb more than my height.

At my university, though, there is a rock wall and a bouldering cave. I started rock climbing because it was new, fun, and I made a deal with a kid. He taught me to climb and I taught him to roll a kayak. Little did I know, I found that it helped me as an athlete.

Learning to balance on one toe with my other foot in the air and my fingers pinched on a small hold also helped with balance in my boat. Which I was surprised about, as well as it worked my core a lot more than a normal core workout did. I had to use my core to keep steady and balanced on these small holds and dynamic moves.

That transfers directly over to kayaking; when I am doing freestyle, everything is in my core. To land all my tricks, I must keep my core tight to make sure I stay balanced and on track. I get the chance to climb more than paddle, as I work at a climbing gym. I think climbing is a great workout to help build strength in paddlers! I know it has helped me a lot!

Stone Summit Climbing Gym (ATL)

Next, I try to work out for at least 45 minutes a day, six times a week. This plan I am on is to get me in shape for the World Cup, which is in October 2022 here in Columbus, GA. However, the opportunity to get outside and walk for 15 minutes a day or even three times a week is better than nothing. This past semester, I did not work out consistently and it took a toll on me. When I would go kayaking, I was out of breath a lot faster, and when I wanted to paddle fast my endurance ran out quickly. Even the little workouts that I can do will help me as a whitewater kayaker.

I struggle the most with finding the mental will to go kayaking. I must paddle twice a week, as I am the president of the CSU Whitewater Kayak Club, but making time for myself to paddle is a lot harder. Being in my boat in the pool helps a lot. For anyone that doesn’t have the river as close as I do, I’d say do your best to get into a pool or on a lake to paddle around.

Even a fraction of time paddling in a pool or on a lake can help your skills tremendously. Making a regimen to do flatwater skills will boost your ability in the river. Being able to get into my boat and paddle around helps tremendously on my mental health too. For me, it is a chance to disregard reality and spend some time working on flat water skills, along with teaching my club members the skills they need to excel on the river.

After all, getting in a boat and spending some time on the water, whether it’s a pool, lake, or river, is better than nothing at all. Spending time in the gym or being active will help you excel as a kayaker. For me, spending my time working out has boosted my overall strength, endurance, and mental health as an athlete, and has elevated my skills on the water.

Nantahala River

I hope to see ya on the river!
Cat H.


Ecuador: The Land of Boofs and Boulder-Garden Goodness

Why the Hype?

No doubt you’ve noticed that many paddlers are heading to Ecuador this winter. Despite things not quite being back to ‘normal’ (what even is normal anymore?!) and there being a few more hoops to jump through, travel is now back on the table for many paddlers.

For those that have already escaped to the equator, you’ll be well aware of a few new logistical considerations. However, if you’re currently sat in your lounge in a fleecy onesie and down jacket, trying to muster up the motivation to get on your frozen local river, then read on.

📷: Casey Bryant Jones
🛶: Sal Montgomery, Katie Kowalski, Tara Blair

How difficult is getting to Ecuador right now? Not that difficult.

Is it worth the extra hassle? Yes.

Change can be pretty daunting, especially when it involves being far from home, but as long as you know the facts and do a little planning in advance, then it’s todo bien!  Check out the blurb at the end for current guidelines. It’s worth noting that guidelines do change and this blog was written by a dirtbag kayaker, not a governmental official or Covid-19 expert. So get yourself familiar with official governmental travel advice websites (links also below). 

Ok, now to the good stuff! So what’s all the fuss about Ecuador? Is it really that great for paddling, or are we all just being soft and don’t want cold hands on the river? Well, yes ditching the pogies/skull cap/fleecy onesie/ice cream headache is nice, but it really is a whitewater wonderland here. I’ll keep it simple, but here’s a few of our favourites (come to Ecuador and you’ll quickly see why!)

Río Jondachi

Typically, many paddlers begin their trip in the town of Baeza, situated approximately 2 hours from Quito airport. During the months of November to March, this relatively sleepy town is transformed into a buzzing paddling hub, full of colourful kayaks and boardshorts.

Throughout the day, you’ll see trucks loaded with boats heading up and down the valley, to the Río Quijos. With multiple sections to choose from, there’s options for most water levels and abilities. If you’re into steep creeking then you’ll love the Casa de Queso (Cheesehouse) section, or if big water canyons are more your thing then head further downstream for the Chaco Canyon! The Quijos has it all! If you’re looking to branch out a little though, you don’t have to travel far for other runs in the area, such as the Río Oyacachi (high volume steep, technical creeking), Borja (big water fun) and the Río Cosanga (several super varied sections). 

📷: Casey Bryant Jones

🛶: Sal Montgomery

Next up on most paddlers’ agendas is to head over to the town of Tena. Drive roughly 2.5 hours and you’re suddenly in a completely different climate. Tena is hot, sunny and home to the awesome Río Misahuallí. After a bit of rain, laps on the upper section are hard to beat, especially as you can get freshly baked empanadas at the El Oso Perezoso Kayak Hostel takeout! (It’s also possible to rent boats/ gear here too). If levels are low and you’re feeling like more of an adventure, check out the lower Misahuallí. This canyon is pretty spectacular, with bright green parrots and chunky, big volume rapids. Just be sure to get beta on the portage…

📷: Sal Montgomery
🛶: Gabriel Garbin

And then we’ve got an absolute beaut of a river- the Río Piatua. With clear water, sunshine and all the boofs, it’s easy to see why this is a highlight run for many paddlers.

Welcome to the Jungle

If you’re going to go to Ecuador then no doubt you’ll want to experience some proper jungle paddling. The Jondachiis probably one of Ecuador’s most well-known jungle rivers and is definitely a must-do. From start to finish, the river works its way through endless, dense jungle. Whilst boofing your way downstream, keep an eye out for native birds, big, colourful butterflies and the occasional river otter sunbathing on a boulder! (Last year, my pals and I saw a jaguar whilst paddling this river). The three main sections of the Jondachi (upper, middle and lower), each offer a different level of difficulty, as well as miles and miles of fun! 

If you’re after a real jungle adventure, then pack your hammock and machete and head to the Río Hollín. It is possible to paddle the 46km in a (long) single day, but it’s a pretty cool overnighter if you’ve got the time.

Highlights include a 30ft waterfall and a slide in to a drop rapid right at the beginning (easy to put in below these, depending on how fired up you’re feeling), a cool rapid inside a cave, and a big volume, fun paddle out from below the Jondachi/ Hollín confluence. 

📷: Abe Herrera, Boof Sessions


You’ve done laps on laps of the Quijos, you’ve paddled with monkeys in the jungle and now it’s time for Baños. Home of the Río Topo. Full-on, five-star boating for class five boaters. This super fast and super steep run will definitely get your heart rate up (and not just because of the altitude!). The fun doesn’t stop at the takeout though, as Baños is known to be a pretty wild party-town! 

Whether the Topo is on your radar or not, this party town is also packed full of great hikes, huge waterfalls and natural hot springs. Make sure you finish your day with a riverside BBQ at Abby’s Hideaway- the perfect way to relax after the Topo or a night of dancing!

Paddling Community

The paddling scene here in Ecuador is constantly growing. With more international kayakers coming to check out what all the fuss is about and returning paddlers coming for another season of quality whitewater and sunshine, the paddling hubs are buzzing more than ever. It’s not just an increase in foreigner paddlers on the rivers though. More local paddlers are taking to the water, as well as opening up new sections and carrying out big missions. Super exciting times here!

A big driver of this has been the Ecuador Kayak Club. Solely volunteer-led and reliant on donated, or repaired pre-loved gear, this awesome group of people have introduced a huge number of local people to the water. The initial 14 members has now skyrocketed to over 120!

Keen to encourage local paddlers to progress, the club put together the Ecuadorian Race Series. Not only do these events count towards team selection for national paddlers, they’re also open to international paddlers -helping to share the psych and integrate paddling communities, as well as being a lot of fun!

Take it easy…

Don’t get caught out – talk to locals and paddlers that have been in-country for a while. The paddling here is epic, but things can go wrong quickly if you don’t understand the nature of the rivers and each area’s weather systems or catchment areas. Do your research and you’ll have a blast in this incredible jungle whitewater mecca! 

The Facts (sorry, boring but important)


  • Negative Covid test (taken within 72 hours of arrival in to Ecuador)
  • Covid vaccination (received more than 2 weeks prior to arrival in Ecuador) 

*Obviously these can change, so check here for the latest guidelines-

Make sure you check the requirements for any connecting countries. For instance, many UK flights to Ecuador transit in the US, so be sure to check local requirements when booking your ticket. 

Once In-Country:

Testing: as long as you’re near a good-sized town, it’s super easy to get tests in Ecuador. All the main kayaking hub towns have good testing facilities, including several that will perform the tests at your accommodation. There’s also testing facilities at Quito airport (check out their website for details).

Transport: private taxis are cheap and easy, so it’s pretty easy keeping yourselves to yourselves and avoiding public transport if you wish. Masks are mandatory for all taxis and buses. It’s also worth having a small bottle of hand sanitiser with you. 

Accommodation: us kayakers like to keep things simple, so we mostly stay at the same places. This year, many hostels are limiting numbers (for obvious reasons), giving us a nudge to try out different places. Here’s a few links to the usual favourites though:

El Oso Perezoso Kayak Hostel
📷: Casey Bryant Jones

Guiding, Boat Rental, Tours

There’s a tonne of tour companies operating in Ecuador. Whether you’re keen for a fully inclusive package, a couple of days of guiding or simply just boat/gear rental, there’s plenty of options to choose from. 

Here’s a few recommended operators:

Ecuadorian Rivers Need You!

The rivers of Ecuador have been supplying us with epic times, endless boofs and sweet lines, but now it’s our turn to give something back. Unfortunately, they’re at risk. Without these awesome, free-flowing steep creeks, epic canyons and ballsy-big volume rivers, not only do we lose a hell of a lot of incredible whitewater, many local communities will lose their water sources, livelihoods and even homes; not to mention all the devastating, irreversible damage to invaluable wildlife and natural ecosystems. 

Ecuadorian Rivers Institute is a voluntary organisation working to raise awareness and protection of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in Ecuador. Check them out (link below), sign their petition and donate to their cause if you can. 

‘By increasing global awareness of watershed issues in Ecuador, we hope to minimise the exploitation of the environment and the people who depend upon it’

Thanks for reading, see you on the water!
Sal =)

📷: Abe Herrera, Boof Sessions


The Zambezi Again?

Yes! The Zambezi again!

I travel to different regions of the world to check out different rivers for different reasons. Sometimes, I never want to leave, and other times I’m happy to have just gotten out without getting hurt. No matter where life leads me, there is one river that will have me forever coming back; the Zambezi. 

I love the style of this river; a huge, frothing, friendly behemoth of a river. As the river rises, different moves and lines open up, all requiring different levels of skill and commitment. This is my favourite time to be on the Zambezi; I can feel myself improving as a kayaker, and my overall fitness increasing dramatically as I hike down into the gorge, spend hours on the river, and then hike out again every day.

I am always trying to learn new things or practice old skills on the water, but on this river, improvement feels like it comes easier than normal to me. Here are a few things that I enjoy working on during my time on this river:


Getting big air off the back of waves requires perfect timing. Generally speaking, the longer you wait until you launch off the back, the higher and more disconnected you will be from the river. It’s hard while climbing up the walls of water on the Zambezi not to pull early and just get over it. This season, I feel I managed to get to a whole new level of launching over waves.

Edge Control 

There are so many seamlines, boils, and whirlpools on the Zam, I leave every trip feeling way more in tune with my edges. 


You get strong kayaking on this river every day. I like coming here at the start of the year and leaving from my time on the Zam feeling strong and ready for the year ahead.


This river is chock full of intimidating moves, and it honestly normally takes me a few days to feel confident going for some of the bigger ones. By the end of the trip, I am comfortably knocking into the biggest parts of the rapids, making last-second glides to where I need to be, and feeling at home on a really powerful piece of water.


The Zambezi encompasses so much that I love about kayaking. I will forever be in love with this sport, but out here I am forever grateful for all the paths in life that led me to here. Endless days of bombing through the beautiful Batoka gorge, blasting over huge waves, and laughing with my friends at the takeout about all the things that happened on the river that day.

Hope to catch you out on the Zam someday,


Laura Hofberger has her eyes on the prize…

We’ve been laying plans and looking forward to getting back on the road and attending some events in 2022, and when our sights turned to the Oetz Trophy (22nd – 25th of September 2022 in Ötztal, Austria!), we immediately thought of last year’s winner, Laura Hofberger, and fired her some questions recapping last year’s experience and how she’s carrying some of that insight forward to defend her title this year!

Here we go…

What were your goals going into the first Oetz Trophy? Was winning on your mind, or just having fun?

Well, to be honest, my main goal was to get through the qualifiers and start in the semifinals. When I registered for the race, it was not yet proclaimed as the world championship. I mainly registered because I always wanted to participate at Sickline, but it never worked out with university exams. Since it takes place at the end of the season in the Alps, I thought of it as a nice way to see everybody again.

📷: Katja Jemec

What was your training regime like before?

My training the weeks before the race focused mainly on paddling the Wellerbrücke as often as possible.

How do you warm-up and psyche yourself up for the race itself?

For me, it’s important to sit in the boat on the day of the race and at least paddle the section once. About half an hour before the race, I started warming up. A little bit of jogging up and down the racecourse, jumping on the spot, and then warming up arms, shoulders, back, stomach, and not to forget getting the hands warm. For the mindset, I focused on my breathing to keep calm and tried to pretend that it would be a normal lap with friends down the river.

Minus One
📷: Jakub Sedivy

Was there a move or a moment in the race where you realized you were in with a chance of winning?

When I won the qualification, a lot of people were like, “Ok Laura, now it’s a home run.” and of course, I realized at that point as well that they were right. I trained a lot more on the racecourse than on the qualification course, so I knew if I didn’t mess up, my chances were really good. But on this section, mistakes are always possible. After I won the semifinals, I really wanted to win the race. 

How did you celebrate?

After the award ceremony, there was the athlete dinner at the Ötz Wirt where afterwards the party took place. So just a classic kayaking party with everybody.

Will you race this year? If so, will you train any differently?

I am planning on it, and yeah, I will focus more on race training. This year I just paddled the section a lot, but I never focused on racing down the course. I would still try to paddle the section as often as possible, to get accustomed to it at different water levels. But I also would include laps where I just race down.

Champions Killer
📷: Kristof Stursa

Will you still race the 9R, or are you thinking of other boats?

Sadly, my 9R has to stay in Chile, but since it’s the perfect racing boat for me I think I have to get another one! I am excited about the Scorch, and maybe on a steep course like the Wellerbrücke, it will be a good option as well 🙂

What other races will you be taking part in?

I am planning on participating at the Ekstremsportveko in Voss this year, and hopefully at King of the Alps in Meran. And I’ll see what else is coming up 🙂

What are your top tips for anyone else looking to get into racing?

Get a training buddy or crew, be comfortable with the racecourse, and focus on having fun while training and racing.

Thanks Laura, and best of luck for the season!


‘Oh, Shit!’ Moments

We all have them in varying intensities: “Oh, shit! I dropped my phone in the toilet!”; “ Oh, shit! I’m going to be late!”; “Oh, shit! That test is tomorrow!”

“Oh, shit! There’s a wall of water coming downstream directly towards me!”

My most recent, ‘Oh, shit!’ moment was more intense than any other I’ve ever experienced before or ever hope to in the future. In late November, while paddling the Upper Jondachi with two of my favorite paddling partners and friends, the river flashed.

Fran celebrating the end of the hike-in
All smiles at the put-in

I’ve written a few takeaways from the experience below. Read them or don’t, but I think it’s important to think and talk about the line that we toe every day on the river. Whether “the line” refers to a literal line that we have to be on in a rapid or to the environmental factors we are surrounded by, it deserves to not only be acknowledged but also prepared for in the event that things go wrong.  

After we had found each other, going back down through the jungle to where we had stashed our boats

I’ve reflected on the day quite a bit over the last week and I don’t think I would do anything differently. I haven’t really included any of the details about the flash here because, to be honest, they don’t really matter. If we’re friends, maybe I’ll tell you the story over beers, but they aren’t particularly pertinent to what I want to talk about. We put on in sunshine, it only rained on us for around an hour and, as we hiked up and away from the now furious river along a small, steep, muddy farm trail, the sun was shining again. The rain that caused the river to flash while we were on it came from up high–high enough that we couldn’t see it when we were in the Gorge. Though we were certainly all on edge while paddling in the rain, knowing that you just don’t want it to rain at all while you’re on the Jondachi, I wouldn’t say there were any particular moments that we failed to act in a prudent manner. Maybe we should have gotten off the river immediately when it started raining hard, maybe we should have seen clouds in the sky and not put on. Maybe… but the maybes aren’t very helpful at this point. It happened; we’re all here; and I want to talk about it because realistically, and uncomfortably, it could happen to anyone out there.

Though I feel good about our decisions on the whole, we could have been more prepared for the possibility of something going wrong. The Upper Jondachi is a remote run located between Baeza and Tena. It’s steep, relatively narrow, and currently filled with wood. With a solid crew and the expectation that you’ll take your time picking your way down the river or follow someone who knows the lines really well (and has seen it this season), it’s a beautiful section and well worth the bumpy creek entrance (Urcusiqi) or short hike in through cow manure.

Back where I had stashed my boat when I first exited the river.

Because of its remote nature, being prepared to spend the night in the jungle in the event of an accident is crucial (this goes for every river that doesn’t have easy and frequent exit points). Between the three of us, we had two inReaches, a phone that had an Ecuadorian sim card, two water filters, a few small snacks, an extra layer of clothing each, a machete, small first aid kit, and two emergency blankets. But then we lost one of the boats in the flood and with it went the machete, first aid kit, one of the inReaches, and Leon’s extra layers. To make matters more interesting, my inReach was dead and the phone didn’t have service. My inReach being dead is a huge mistake on my part; it was charged when I got to Ecuador, but I hadn’t checked it prior to putting on the water–I won’t make that mistake again. I had what appeared to be a communication device but truthfully, in the moment, it was nothing more than a nice-looking, expensive paperweight that provided a false sense of security. Thankfully, it wasn’t a crucial part of our exit from the jungle.

Mid way through our hike out

I’ve talked about it with a few people and we’ve come up with a general list of things that we think could be crucial to have in the event of being stuck in the jungle. I think that in an ideal world, every single person in the group has most of these things. I’m really not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t have with them when they kayak, it’s simply a list of things that I would want to have with me if anything like this ever happened to me again–and I’m sure as hell open to suggestions.

  • Emergency Blanket x2 + Paracord
    • One to lay on top of and one to create cover for rain. A third would be nice to use as an actual blanket (If everyone has one you’d be set up pretty well)
    • The blankets don’t need to have gromets to make them in to shelters, you can bunch the blanket around rocks or branches at the corners, tie the paracord around both the blanket and item and you’ll be able to string it between trees.
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Repair Kit
  • inReach (+ phone if it’s a mini along with a power bank)
    • I honestly think that in an ideal world there would be more than one inReach in every group. I know they’re expensive, but they simply aren’t helpful if the only person who has one is either no longer with you for one reason or another or the inReach is no longer accessible. I think this goes for any situation-skiing, mountain biking, etc.
    • Phone numbers for Search and Rescue as well as any other inReaches your group may have. If you don’t have their unique identifier, you won’t be able to communicate with one another if you get separated. Sometimes it’s more efficient to go directly to S&R in your area rather than pushing the SOS button. Assess your resources and make a call regarding which avenue of rescue you think will be better.
    • Having your shuttle driver’s information can also be key–you may be freaking out but, trust me, your taxi driver is, too. Let them know you’re ok if you can. They may also be able to get a rescue moving faster or in the right direction.
  • Water Filter
  • Extra Food
    • More food than you think you’d need
  • Extra Layers
    • If you’re only wearing shorts, bring pants. The jungle is not kind to exposed skin. Same goes for your top layer.
  • Headlamp
  • Machete
    • The jungle is DENSE and sometimes literally impassible without a tool.
  • Fire Starter
    • The jungle may be wet pretty much all the time but you never know if you’ll be able to find some dry wood. It gets cold at night, especially when you’re soaking wet.
  • Pin Kit
    • This should go without saying in my opinion but I put it here because pin kits are not only helpful on the river, but can also be extremely helpful in getting up and out of steep gorges. Check your gear, make sure it isn’t rusted and completely useless. It’s not a horrible idea to throw an ATC (a belay device) in with your gear if you’re in steep terrain (make sure it will work with the diameter of the rope in your throw bag).
  • Bug Spray
    • Bugs are vicious out there. Honestly, a mosquito net wouldn’t be a horrible thing to bring with you if you have one that packs easily.
Finally almost to the ridge 4 hours after we started our hike; we could still hear the river raging behind us.

Some main takeaways for me from this experience:

  • We had a small group and I think it was a huge advantage for us. Any larger of a group and in that particular location on the river we would have been in much bigger trouble–the eddies around me disappeared in seconds. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t boat with your friends, but it’s something to keep in mind.
  • Whistles are a great tool to communicate off the water, too… like when you’re hiking through a jungle and you can barely see 10 feet ahead of you.
  • It’s all good and fine to have the most skilled boater carry the most group gear but sometimes that’s the boat that gets lost. If you can, try to spread it out and realistically, everyone should have the basics with them in the event that the group is separated.
  • Watch where you put your hands. Some of the trees are literally covered in ants. Don’t get me wrong, I was digging my hands in to the mud to try and gain purchase and sometimes there just isn’t an option to do anything else, but the jungle has some pretty savage insects, animals, and plants. If you can, always look before you put your hands or feet somewhere.
  • There is at least one easier point of egress on the Jondach–we hiked out via a tiny farm trail at Tres Huevos. You would never know it was there unless you bush whacked your way about 100 feet up through the jungle to a small plantain field.
  • Start early. Weather can change really quickly and if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to hike out, having as much daylight as possible is key.

And, finally, the main takeaway I have is that we got lucky. If the flash had happened just about anywhere else, we almost certainly would have spent the night in the jungle and had there been different circumstances on the river, there is a possibility that we may not have made it back at all. There are a lot of “ifs”, but at this point I’m just thankful that we all made it out and that the only thing we lost was a boat and some gear (The boat was actually found about a week later perched on a rock). There were at least four flash floods in the last two weeks of November/early December–two on the Hollín and two on the Jondachi. Every country presents its own challenges, and Ecuador is a country filled with incredible rivers that flash MUCH more easily than anything in the US–especially those near Tena.

If you read this and disagree with what I have suggested or have suggestions of your own, please let me know–I am learning every day. I do not claim to be an expert on the subject and there are a lot of people with a lot more experience out there.

Have fun out there, love your friends, and be prepared.

Back at Gina’s thoroughly exhausted with Jack Daniels and Don Vicente’s “tequila”


Travelling to Chile in the Time of COVID

Hey there 🙂

My name is Laura Hofberger, and I’m currently kayaking in Chile! 

Chile is a paradise for whitewater kayaking, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s not the easiest country to travel to. If you’re still planning to come to Chile, I wanted to share my insights with you.

First, you have to be vaccinated to enter the country, and you have to verify your vaccination in advance with the Chilean Ministry of Health to get your mobility pass (pase de movilidad). To do that, register here and upload the QR-Code and certificate from your vaccination. 

After that, you have to wait for the approval of the Ministry of Health. With my vaccination it took about three weeks, but if you’re lucky it might only be one or two weeks. Don’t go to Chile without approval, though! I know of some Americans who were sent straight back because of a problem with their mobility pass.

You can check on the status of your mobility pass on the website, and you get an email if something is missing or if it’s approved.

Blanco del Sur Photographer: Fabian Janzen

If your vaccination is approved, you can fly to Chile, but there’s more to do:

• 72 hours before your flight to Chile, you have to do a PCR test. Keep in mind that the 72 hours don’t count from your home airport but from the airport you fly direct to Santiago from. For example, if you’re flying from London to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Santiago, the takeoff time from Atlanta will be the reference time for your PCR test.

• 48 hours before entering the country, you have to register at (this link will be in your vaccination approval email), where you’ll be asked to upload the result of your PCR test, a screenshot of your health insurance (it has to cover at least 30,000 US $, in case you get covid over there), and the address where you will fulfil your “quarantine“ until the result of your PCR test in Santiago has arrived. If it’s approved, you should get an email with a QR-Code in it which you need on your arrival.

• When you arrive at the airport, you have to go through the registration station first, where they check your mobility pass. This is where you need the QR-code mentioned previously. After that, you get to the PCR test. You can check your result online (make sure you approve pop-ups on your mobile device for that). Bionet will email you with your link. If you’re lucky, you can get your PCR test result directly at the airport after 4-6 hours (on the first floor on the right side of the elevator beside the exit). Without a negative PCR test result, you’re not allowed to enter public transport, but you can leave the airport in a cab to get to your quarantine address. If you plan to take a bus to Puerto Montt, you should allow some time to get your PCR test result in your planning. Ask the people from Bionet at the result counter how long it might take. There is a second PCR centre close to the airport, where I’ve heard you can get your result faster. If you’re in a hurry, it might be worth informing yourself about that in advance.

• Since the beginning of December, it is also possible to fly directly from Santiago to Temuco and take the PCR test there.

• If everything goes according to plan, you should get your mobility pass (best to take a screenshot of the QR code and your test result) and you can continue to travel. You’re not allowed to leave Santiago before your test result is confirmed negative. After that, you just have to do an online self-report for ten days at Here, you have to report if you have any symptoms, and after five days you’re able to change your address. Don’t worry, the website is in English 🙂 We haven’t checked out what happens if you miss a day of the self-report, so if you have reception just do it straight away, because there are a lot of places in Chile where the reception is just too low to load the homepage. The homepage also tells you when you don’t have to self-report any longer. So now you’re free to go 🙂

• If your PCR result at Santiago is positive, or one of your travel buddies is positive, you have to go to a “resitencia sanitaria“. The health ministry will get in touch with you and pick you up at your quarantine address (or the airport) and transport you there. If you’re positive, you have to stay there for ten days; if you’ve been in contact with someone who is positive, but you are negative, they let you go after seven days (if you’re symptom-free the whole time). These “Corona hotels“ are free, you’ll get food four times a day, and they have doctors there checking your vitals two to four times a day.

How do I know that? Well, one of our travel group had a positive PCR result in Santiago, so I had to spend the first seven days of the trip in a Corona hotel. Not the best start, but afterwards we went straight to the Rio Claro and everything was forgotten 🙂 

La Garganta – Rio Claro. Photographer: Micaela Besa Franzani

Since the Covid situation is not a stable one, I would recommend always checking if the restrictions have changed or new rules have been sanctioned before travelling to Chile. I will be here hopefully until the end of January, so if you have any questions about the Covid situation, water levels, or anything else, feel free to contact me 🙂 (probably best via Instagram: @laura.hontas)

Once you’ve mastered all the entry hurdles and finished doing your ten days of self-reporting, travelling in Chile is really stress-free. I heard from some people that they just didn’t do the self-reporting and nothing happened, but if you have reception, it’s still probably better to be safe than sorry and just sacrifice two minutes a day for it.

Like in any other country, it’s mandatory to wear masks in public places like supermarkets and also in crowded areas in the cities, but since we’ve been dealing with the pandemic for quite some time, we’re probably all used to having a face mask in every pocket anyway!

Pase de Mobilidad

So, what do you need a mobility pass for? You don’t need it for renting a car or for cabs, but it is required for public transportation or for entering a restaurant. If you’re travelling south, you have to take some ferries and might need to show your mobility pass to board them. Better just take a screenshot of your mobility pass with the QR Code to avoid any complications.

Getting a Chilean SIM Card

If you want to get a Chilean SIM Card, I would recommend getting one from Entel. At the beginning, we had SIM cards from WOW and Claro, but the further south we got, the worse the reception got, so we switched to Entel on the recommendation of some Chilean friends. Getting a prepaid SIM card in Chile is really cheap, the SIM card costs about two euros and then you can get different “bolsas”. I paid less than ten euros for 10 GB + 500 minutes for 30 days and limitless use of most of the social media apps is included. If you’re staying longer than 30 days in Chile, you have to register your mobile phone at, otherwise, it will stop working. For the registration you need:

  • A photo of your passport
  • A photo of your flight ticket or a photo of the visa in your passport
  • A screenshot of your IMEI (dial *#06# to get that)
  • Brand and model of your phone
  • Your Chilean mobile number

Paddling in National Parks

Some classic rivers in Chile are in national parks. If you have to enter the national park to paddle, you have to buy your ticket online at In the national parks we have been to, there was no option to buy the ticket at the entry most of the time, so it’s better to buy tickets in advance, as the reception in the parks is most often too low to buy them there.

At the Rio Claro, you only need the ticket for the Seven Sisters section, but when we were there the rangers told us that it is forbidden to paddle the section, so we just waited until the park was closed and all the rangers went home. No problem 🙂

The problem with the rangers happened at the Gol Gol and the Pedrohue as well. When we were waiting at the put-in of the Gol Gol for the shuttle, a group of rangers approached us and again told us that paddling was forbidden. We told them that we’d just wait for the shuttle to come back and then go. Of course, we didn’t do that. As soon as the rangers were gone, we grabbed all our gear and headed into the woods to wait out of sight for the rest of the group.

Once we got on the river, we didn’t see any more rangers, so everything went well. My recommendation for paddling the Gol Gol is to not linger at the car park but to head straight to the woods and wait there for the shuttle.

At the Petrohue we ran into even more trouble. In the morning, we entered the National Park (where we were actually able to buy the ticket at the entrance) to scout the waterfalls. We knew that the waterfalls were forbidden to paddle, so if you want to do it, it has to be either early in the morning or late in the evening (check the opening hours of the park in advance). Sadly, the water level of the falls was too low for paddling them.

Two of our group decided to paddle the part above the falls, but made the same mistake as on the Gol Gol and spent too much time at the put-in. Again, a ranger saw us and told us that it’s forbidden to paddle in the National Park. He even threatened to call the police. We took the threat lightly, and the two put in out of sight around the corner.

The problem was, the ranger actually did call the police. When they arrived, I tried to convince them that the others were paddling below the National Park, but they didn’t really buy the story and kept patrolling the river for quite some time. Luckily the guys on the river saw the blue light and hid in the underwood on the left shore since the only street in the valley is on river right.

They waited there for a while and after the National Park closed they started sneaking down the river. We picked them up and got the hell away from the park.

So my recommendation for paddling the Petrohue is putting in at around 18:30 and not fussing around at the put-in or take-out. In the evening you should be fine since the rangers only patrol during the opening hours of the park.

Petrohue National Park

My Favourite Rivers So Far:

  • Rio Puelo

The Puelo was the first “big water” river on our trip. The upper canyon has around seven big rapids which are all scoutable (if you’re not feeling up for any of the rapids it’s also possible to portage them). The biggest rapid on the Puelo is called “The Portage” but at our water level, it was good to go. You can scout the whole rapid on the right side and also take nice pictures from there. What I liked a lot about the Puelo is that it’s big water, but you have to hit the lines, and the 9R is just the perfect boat for that since it’s fast and, for my body weight, very maneuvrable in big water!

“The Portage” on the Rio Puelo. Photographer: Fabian Janzen
  • Rio Claro

Siete Tazas section is a nice quick evening run in an absolutely stunning canyon.

For the 22 Saltos section you have to hike up about 30 to 45 minutes, but it is totally worth it. You have delightful drops between one and six meters, the gorge is super beautiful, and there is a nice place to stay, the hostel Val Verde, directly at the take-out.

If you have enough water, you can paddle straight down from the 22 Saltos section until the End of the Garganta section. Although the water level was low, the Garganta canyon was definitely one of my highlights on this trip. If you have the chance of catching the Claro you won’t regret it!

  • Rio Riñinahue

The Riñinahue is probably not as well known as the other rivers, but it’s a gem! You have four smaller drops in a really narrow gorge and then a bigger drop (about seven meters) at the exit of the gorge. You can put in directly above the first drop. I would recommend scouting the second and third drop since all the water pushes hard towards the left wall. Directly above the fourth drop, there is a huge cave on the left where you don’t want to end up. If you’re not feeling it and just want to paddle the big drop, you can jump into the pool beneath the fourth drop, but be careful; it’s about a 15 to 18 meter jump into green water!

  • Rio Fuy

So far, I’ve only paddled the upper Fuy since the water level for the middle Fuy is still quite high, but I hope to catch the middle on the way back south at the end of the trip. The upper section is a lot of fun. You can warm up on the first few kilometres before reaching the La Leona drop (about four meters high). The drop is super beautiful, and you can easily carry up as often as you want. After La Leona, you have about 300 meters of awesome whitewater with two smaller drops. The last drop you can also easily carry up again as often as you like. The upper Fuy is just a fun, stress-free run to enjoy!

La Leona Drop on the upper Fuy. Photographer: Fabian Janzen

Hope to see some of you in Chile and have an amazing time on the river together!

Buenas lineas!


How to Go Kayaking in Kenya

Kenya is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to kayak. I hope everyone reading this gets the chance to check out and enjoy kayaking in this incredible country. Below are a couple of tips and tricks on how to have the best time out there.

Photo by David Sadomka

Equipment Choices

I have been lucky enough to repeatedly hit some of the best zones in the world for kayaking over the last few years and I’ve learned what gear I need to and what I don’t for each of them, to the point where packing to go on a trip is on autopilot and sort of boring a lot of the time. Fortunately, the world is a big place and on a recent trip to Kenya, I learned the hard way on the ideal equipment to bring to this country.

Lots of things go without saying for every trip, standard kayaking stuff. Good shoes, safety equipment, spare set of paddles. However here’s a few things that you might not have thought to pack on your trip to Kenya.

Photo by David Sadomka

A Long Sleeve Drytop

I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that you should bring a longie with you to Africa either, but a lot of the water travels a short distance from the top of mount Kenya and doesn’t have time to heat up to the tepid bath temperatures found on the Zambezi. Armed with just my usual African kayaking set up of a rash vest and shorty drytop, I spent a fair few days of my trip to Kenya shivering.

Rain Jacket and Pants

It can rain a lot and often here, best to be prepared for it.


If you’re checking out new rivers, you may find yourself a little bit stuck at times. Having a small drone to whizz up can save you many a long, spiky, stingy, arduous hour of bushwhacking through the jungle to scout the next horizon line. Disclaimer, the rapid is always bigger than it looks on the drone.


Probably best to buy one in the country than to wield it through Manchester airport, but still, regardless of how or where you get your machete, it is an essential bit of kit out here. *Bonus tip* Secure your machete in your kayak. A kayaker in my crew, who shall remain nameless, swam and lost our machete on a first descent which made two portages later on much more spiky and hurty.

Flying There

The kayakers favourite airline, Turkish Airways flies into Nairobi, which means you can take your kayak with you stress-free.

Photo by David Sadomka

In-Country Logistics

The rafting company, Savage Wilderness has a rafting base on the Tana river and can help with everything from river beta, to organising drivers, to sorting you out with a place to sleep. They make checking out a new kayaking destination so easy, I can’t recommend them enough.

Photo by David Sadomka


It’s Africa; some sections of low lying rivers have animals in them, but many of them don’t. In three weeks here I was only lucky enough to see one snake and hear a Hippo snorting, whose swimming pool we were portaging around. Worth checking in with the team at Savage Wilderness to see if they know of any potential wildlife on the rivers you want to check out.

Photo by David Sadomka

Rivers to Hit

There are so many incredible known sections of river in Kenya with my favourites being the Niamindi, Mutonga, and Tana, along with park and hucks such as Webuye Falls and plenty more to be found.

I checked in with long-standing Team Pyranha member, Pete Catterall to ask if, after his trip to Kenya, he would add some other tips on how to go kayaking in Kenya.

Pete’s Top Tips:

There are some incredible rivers out here, but be really, really “on it” when out front as some sections of river disappear down old lava tubes. These rivers only run in the rainy season so when the rivers are up you can expect tree hazards; don’t run things blind!

Without a doubt, as Bren says, use the team at Savage Wilderness; they are local and know the area and what rivers to hit better than anyone.

Scouting can be tricky in some of the steep rivers, so make sure you’ve got good safety skills to get close to the edges to see what’s happening.

Finally, remember that hippos are not friendly!

Catch you on the water!


Bren’s Park Jam 2021

I’ll be honest, I’ve been kayaking on my own a lot since the world turned upside down. It was a little bit spooky at first, but then I got used to it and even started to like it, but that’s a whole other side to the sport that is probably best not talked about. On the other end of that is kayaking with your friends. Laughing, learning, winning, losing, pushing each other and inevitably, sometimes, getting in over your head and having your friends have to help you out. It’s the side of the sport I love most, hanging out on the water with my friends and trying to come up with new lines to hit or tricks to learn.

Getting to experience this is beautiful, but being able to see that you’ve helped to create an environment that encourages it is something special.

It’s been a while since we last had the opportunity to put a Park Jam session on, and this year’s tour was short and hurriedly organised as myself and my sponsors realised that I had just enough time to fit something in between projects, juggling responsibilities, and navigating ever-changing travel restrictions and rules.

Back on the water at Cardiff was special. We had the entire day there to session, and in the morning when the pumps were turned down, it was quiet and I could work on teaching specific skills to the kids. Whether that was surfing, catching eddies, or hitting rock spins, I’m always a bit surprised with just how much you can learn on this little park. Outside of the pumped whitewater, one of my favourite things to teach at Cardiff is the front flip / loop off the docks. Doing it this way means that the kids can try multiple times, get a perfect start to the trick, and learn the most important part of the loop, which is snapping back to finish the trick. I’m always shocked at how many kids learn to do it this way and again I think it comes down to them being encouraged by other kids and having a fun environment to learn in. A few kids figured it out and hit their first loops off the dock, and I loved seeing their faces as they finished the trick; surprised, stoked, and wondering whether that was right as it all happened so fast? I remember that same feeling from a long time ago when I was learning that trick. The highlight for me when teaching that part of the session was watching a kiddo called Charlotte consistently hit massive air loops off the dock for her first time and for her to be cheered on by her dad from his kayak.

In the afternoon, the pumps turned up, the park got busier, and we had a small freestyle session before getting back in the half-slice kayaks and cranking out laps. I found one or two new lines down the park for myself and I had a great time teaching people how to wallride and splat, these tricks are especially good at Cardiff. We closed off the session by showing a new edit I’ve been working on, having a Q&A session, and throwing out some prizes and giveaway’s kindly provided by the sponsors that get behind the Park Jam.

Packing up, we had a few days off before heading to Lee Valley for an evening session.

I’m not too into small, techie freestyle tricks at the moment, but the kids at Lee Valley are all about it, so I jumped in one of the Above and Below demo kayaks and went out on the smaller Legacy park first to session some of the freestyle spots with the kids. It was really cool to session this side of the sport again and especially to help the kids hit some of the harder tricks they’ve been working on. A lot of them were at the point that the trick was so close to happening, they just need one or two small tweaks to get it, which is a really rewarding time to be sharing the water and ideas with them.

There were also a few kids that hadn’t passed their test to go on the bigger park and I had a good time sessioning with them as we found one or two harder eddies and boof lines to hit.

Heading out onto the bigger park, I honestly sort of hurt my neck, as my head whipped from right to left trying to watch all of the rad things happening. It’s been over two years since I have seen a lot of the kids out here and it is insane how good they have all gotten. The time for tips was over and instead, we were just sessioning and trying to come up with new things to hit. It was magic. Honestly some of the most fun I have had on the water all year.

The best part of it for me was not only seeing all the skills, but seeing everyone just having a laugh while doing it, regardless of how good they are in a kayak, everyone was trying something new and having a good time doing it.

Which when people ask me what the Park Jam is all about, that’s it, right there.

Huge thank you to my sponsors that get behind the Park Jam, the parks that give us the time on the water, and the local kayaking communities that show up!

Catch you on the water next year,



How to Buy a Canoe or Kayak in 2022

We’ve been making canoes & kayaks for over 50 years, and every year, sales begin to slow as the winter approaches. That is, until last year.

We saw the necessary re-arrangement of workstations to ensure a Covid-secure environment for our staff as an opportunity to also improve the efficiency of our factory layout and processes – a good job, as following the easing of the first national lockdown in June of 2020, we saw a surge in demand of more than double that additional manufacturing output we’d unlocked!

We worked hard to meet demand, anticipating the usual slow-down of winter, except… it never came. We were delighted to be able to retain full staffing levels throughout the winter of 2020, and yet our lead times were still growing, even with these sustained production levels.

Now approaching the winter of 2021, demand for our canoes and kayaks remains phenomenal; we’ve never seen so many newcomers to the sport, and we couldn’t be happier about that!

The problem we face is certainly not one we’re going to complain about, but we want to be open with you and help ensure you’re fully aware and able to avoid disappointment when purchasing a canoe or kayak in the coming year, whether it’s your first or your next.

A month or so ago, we invited our network of specialist dealers to place pre-orders for 2022 production; the response was overwhelming, and we’re now deep into planning our production schedule for the coming year. What is abundantly clear, however, is that we cannot possibly make as many canoes and kayaks as have been ordered.

It’s important to note that these boats have all been sold into our dealer network, and the vast majority are still available to purchase by you once they arrive with those dealers.

Global shipping is wrought with delays, and the reason dealers have pre-ordered so much stock is that demand has been exceptional and sustained, so it is still important to place your order early to ensure you have your boat in plenty of time for the adventures you have in mind, but there’s no need to panic.

We have received numerous emails from paddlers lately asking when particular models and colours will be in stock with dealers, and the truth is, we don’t know. Our small team is focused on producing and shipping orders to arrive with dealers as close to their requested delivery date as possible, but the difficulties with shipping add a generous helping of uncertainty to this schedule, and only the dealer will know which boats are available or have been pre-sold.

For maximum success in securing ownership of a new canoe or kayak in 2022, our advice is to contact your favourite dealer early, be aware that it may not be possible to get your first choice of colour, and be prepared to wait a little longer than usual.

We really, truly, sincerely appreciate your interest in our canoes and kayaks, and we cannot wait to make a LOAD more friends on the water in 2022!

Happy paddling,



Ripping it Up in Extreme Slalom

The 2021 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships took place in Bratislava, Slovakia recently, and despite a strong showing in Extreme Slalom from athletes paddling other manufacturers’ boats, the Ripper still came out on top!

The US’s up and coming young hotshot, Evy Leibfarth came away with a Bronze medal in the Women’s Extreme Slalom Final, beaten only by Germany’s Elena Apel (also paddling a Ripper), and Australia’s unstoppable force, Jessica Fox (daughter of the famous Richard Fox, who saw multiple podiums throughout the late-70s and early-80s in our kayaks).

© Filip Nagy / Red Bull Content Pool

Great Britain’s very own Joe Clarke also wielded the Ripper to great success and bagged a Gold medal in the Men’s Extreme Slalom Final.

© Dezső Vekassy

Congratulations to all of those seriously impressive athletes!

Rumour has it that as Extreme Slalom has become more competitive, particularly now it has been entered into the Olympic program for 2024, some more precise testing has been done on boat speeds, and the Ripper is still on top despite the multiple competitors that have entered the market from other brands; the above results certainly support that!

Older posts «

» Newer posts