River Rafting with Adrenaline Junkies

River Rafting in the Great Fish River in Cradock, Little Karoo, South Africa

Discover the thrill of conquering the Great Fish River with Adrenaline Junkies River Rafting Adventures.

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The Great Fish River runs past Cradock and through the South African province of the Eastern Cape in an area called the Little Karoo. The river is 644 km long and flows into the Indian Ocean. The Great Fish River generally runs all year round, although its headwaters rise in an arid region, and the flow could well be sluggish beyond the ebb and flow of the tidal reaches; Water from the Orange River system is also used to keep up its flow in dry periods. The river is tidal for approximately 20 km.

The Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place annually over two days. This two day canoeing marathon over 81.1 kilometres starts at Grassridge Dam and ends at the Sport Complex in Cradock.

From it's position as one of the biggest canoeing races in the country, and one of the most popular river marathons worldwide, the Fish has grown phenomenally from it's humble beginnings in 1982.

It all started in the seventies, when the Orange River Project started pumping irrigation water towards the eastern seaboard, and bringing lots of distinctively milo-coloured water to the Fish, Little Fish and Sundays River Valleys.

Cape paddler Dave Alexander was one of the first to see the potential of the river for canoeing. He was contacted by KO Bang, who was the Circle Engineer at the Dept of Water Affairs in Cradock, and they put an article into the Midlands News in 1979, looking for paddlers keen to try out the rejuvenated river. There was no response.

But the word got out. A few months later, a few PE paddlers made the trip to Cradock, and gradually the reputation of the river spread. Thanks to their involvement, the Karoo Canoe Club was founded in 1982, and driven by the likes of Stanford Slabbert, Fox Ledeboer, John Harington and Giles Hobson, the first ever Fish River Canoe Marathon was cautiously included in the national race calendar that year.

The first race attracted 77 paddlers in 52 boats. 37 boats finished the race, as the thick willows and many fences on the upper stretches of the river took their toll. It was won by Sunley Uys from Chris Greeff (the first person to shoot Cradock weir in the race), Graham Holm, Stanford Slabbert and Mynhardt Marais.

Read more on the Fish River Marathon web site.

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