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WHITE WATER RAFTING

FAR and WIDE offers four white water rafting trips on the Pungwe River in the Honde Valley in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands.  Each trip is very different in character to the next but all are exceptional experiences.  They are all participatory in nature requiring guests to self paddle their raft down river under instruction from a professional river guide.   From a fun filled family day out to an adrenalin pumping non stop action decent and everything in between the Pungwe River has it all.

Accommodation options include:  Aberfoyle Lodge, Hornbill House, Pamushana Cottage, Mutarazi Cottages, Pungwe Drift Cottages, Mutarazi Falls camp site and FAR and WIDE cabins.  It is also a great days outing if staying anywhere in Nyanga or Vumba.

The trips are run on a daily basis and the season begins with the onset of the summer rains normally late November and goes through to April but sometimes as late as August.

The boats we use are inflatable five man rafts which have been specially designed for the technical low volume waters of the Pungwe River.

The alpine type flow regime of the river systems on which we raft means that we rely on the almost nightly orographic rains that fall in the vast catchment areas of the upper slopes of Mt Nyangani to “top up” the river each day.  The rivers hold their volume very well from January through to April but the volumes can be erratic at either end of the seasonal timeline.  It is also possible that large volumes of rain received in the catchment over several days, or even overnight, make certain sections of the river unsafe to raft on for several days.  It is a dynamic river system and our priority is always your safety. For this reason it may be that a decision is made to change the section we raft, on any particular day.   However if, for example, Bernie’s Run is closed due to high water levels, then the Family Day or Bridge2Bridge sections become awesome!

Below are brief descriptions of the four river trips.   Please note combinations of the various tips are possible.  e.g Family Day followed by Bridge2Bridge&Beyond or even all four in a day!

Please note all trips are dependent on safe water levels on the day.  On rare occasions it may even be necessary to cancel a trip on arrival at the river.  If such a cancellation is necessary a full refund is given.  Your safety is our only concern.
Bridge 2 Bridge & Beyond

Family Day

This fun filled rafting adventure is suitable for ages 7 years and up.  It is the ideal introduction to white water rafting and provides families with a unique family adventure.

Meet the trip leader at the designated meeting place at the set time.  The day starts with a safety briefing and practice session at our Put-in-Pool.  Here you will have a chance to learn how to hold your paddle correctly, how the raft steers and the correct paddle strokes.  You will also be taught correct techniques and safety procedures.  After that we navigate a few ripple rapids before taking on the challenge of the biggest rapid of the day the “Washing Machine”.  Survivors carry on down the river negotiating numerous grade one and two rapids before pulling out at the Punge River bridge.  The total distance rafted is about 12 km.  The riverine vegetation is fantastic and although only a remnant of the great forests that used to exist along the river it is still spectacular in places.  Bird life along the river is great and our knowledgeable guides will point out several of the common species and one or two rarities if you are lucky.

The trip is not particularly demanding physically as the river current normally sweeps you along quite nicely but it is 12 km of river and there is quite a bit of paddling required on the calmer sections.  Participants should be in reasonable physical shape and ready for an adventure.

Cost: from $70.00 per person
Meeting place and time please email.Reservations:  farnwide@mweb.co.zw
Before Bonkers!

Bridge 2 Bridge!

This short and sweet section of the Pungwe River begins at the Pungwe Bridge and ends at the Katiyo Bridge!  It consists of a set of five grade 3 rapids between numerous smaller rapids and pools.  We raft a total of 5 km of river.  Suitable for ages 10 and up.

Meet the trip leader at the designated meeting place at the set time.  The day starts with a safety briefing and practice session at our Put-in-Pool.  Here you will have a chance to learn how to hold your paddle correctly, how the raft steers and the correct paddle strokes.  You will also be taught correct techniques and safety procedures.

The 5 km section we raft is a very scenic part of the river with channels and beaches along the way.  Huge trees bare testimony to the great Pungwe riparian forests that used to exist in this amazing valley.  It is a wonderful birding trip as well and provides birders with a unique opportunity to get close to several species of forest and riverine birds.  The five grade 3 rapids are super exciting and the between sections very cool!

Cost: from $70.00 per personMeeting place Pungwe River Bridge Honde Valley. Morning trip meet at 0930hrs. Afternoon trip meet at 1330hrs.  Reservations essential.Reservations: farnwide@mweb.co.zw

Bridge 2 Bridge & Beyond!

This is the full day version of the popular Bridge 2 Bridge run.

One of the comments we got last season by folks doing the Bridge 2 Bridge run was that they wanted more!  So at the end of the season Josh Cragg and I loaded up our new Dagger Mamba kayaks and explored the river beyond the pull out pool of the B2B run.  What we found was an amazing fun stretch of river.

Meet the trip leader at the designated meeting place at the set time.  The day starts with a safety briefing and practice session at our Put-in-Pool.  Here you will have a chance to learn how to hold your paddle correctly, how the raft steers and the correct paddle strokes.  You will also be taught correct techniques and safety procedures.

The trip is divided into two sections.  The morning run is the B2B section (see above for details).  We stop on a sandy beach on the river bank for a delicious picnic lunch and a rest before taking on the challenge of the afternoon run.  The 2 km section we raft is a very scenic part of the river with channels and beaches along the way.  Huge trees bare testimony to the great Pungwe riparian forests that used to exist in this amazing valley.  It is a wonderful birding trip as well and provides birders with a unique opportunity to get close to several species of forest and riverine birds.  There are several grade 2/3 rapids amongst pools and ripple rapids.  Not as demanding as the morning run but very scenic and loads of fun.  We pull out just above a small waterfall and make our way up through Oscar’s garden and pepper farm to a cool refreshing and well deserved drink in a clearing under the shade of some beautiful Munondo trees.
Cost: from $90.00 per personMeeting place Pungwe River Bridge Honde Valley meet at 0930hrs.   Reservations essential.Reservations: farnwide@mweb.co.zw
Beyond Bonkers!

Bernie’s Run

In the late 1980s Bernie Cragg, the founder of FAR and WIDE Zimbabwe, along with Tim Biggs, a renowned South African paddler, completed the first successful kayaking expedition to navigate the Pungwe River from below the Pungwe Falls in the Pungwe Gorge to where it enters the Honde Valley.  It was an awesome pioneering adventure that would lead to the start of commercially operated rafting and kayaking trips on the Pungwe by FAR and WIDE.

From Bernie’s diary of the expedition:

“On the second day... after Tim and I had portaged the huge 40 metre high Chakanda Falls, we had a torrid time negotiating numerous waterfalls, drops between huge boulders as well as very technical rapids.  Obviously the waterfall had rejuvenated the river and it took on an entirely different character.  One such section saw me miss the last tight eddy before a waterfall (never miss the last eddy)... actually I did not really miss the eddy but Tim had got there first and there just was not enough room for the two of us..!   With nothing to do but carry on down I confronted what was ahead... a 3 metre waterfall with a scary looking stopper at the bottom and a syphon off to the left.  What followed was not an experience I would ever wish to repeat but it taught me a few important lessons.  I was swept over the lip of the waterfall into the plunge pool below and as I hit the washing machine at the base of the falls I got pulled back into an enormous stopper.  My paddle had got wrenched out of my hands after it hit a rock on the way down and I now faced the prospect of having to extricate myself from the stopper without it.  At this stage I was upside down as well!  I managed to do a hand roll and, by some miracle, saw my paddle had also surfaced and was within easy reach.  I grabbed it and managed to paddle out of the stopper (the more trouble you are in the harder you have to paddle) and then to boof off a rock, narrowly avoiding the syphon off to my left at the last second.

Looking back up river, I saw Tim, from the sanctuary of the last eddy, asking if it was okay to run the rapid, “Sure no worries, just keep right!” All this communicated using hand signals as our voices could not compete with the din made by the broken water.  (What was the point of trying to explain he was already committed anyway!)  Tim negotiated the waterfall and, on being re-united, gave me some advice: “You must never do that, never run a rapid blind without scouting ahead first and always make the last eddy!”

At around mid-day we dropped into a large pool and after a hearty lunch of biltong, peanuts, whole wheat biscuits and various spreads we set off again.  What followed was a 7 km stretch of river with an indescribable series of continuous white water with several grade 4 world class rapids...”

It was this section of the Pungwe River which would form the foundation of commercial rafting on the Pungwe River and which would become known as Bernie’s Run.

Meet your trip leader at the designated meeting place at the set time.  You will be given a thorough briefing on how to paddle the rafts, steer them and what to do in different situations.  Safety measures will be explained and some time will be spent on getting it all right.

After that you will take a short walk of about 1 km to the Put in Pool where you will be given time to practise all the theory with your guide.  A final check is done before setting off with your other trip participants.

Depending on water levels and whether or not the trip leader has decided to run it, you will soon meet the first grade 4 rapid of the day AMDG... short and sweet keep just left of centre!

You will have to have your wits about you as you navigate several tight turns on your way down river to the second of the day’s grade 4 rapids which we call Fracture... because of the split in the rock formation at the bottom of the rapid in case you were wondering!

God is good because it is this gap in the rocks that provides a small window and just enough room for the rafts to squeeze through so make sure you take the gap... if you miss it fracture takes on another meaning!

No worries as you paddle on down river to pull out river right, just above the rapid we call Almost Heaven, onto a big flat rock for a nice brunch.   Get some practice and enjoy several rides down this great rapid.

After the stop we carry on down river through a wonderful paradise of clear river as it passes between narrow boulders with large forest trees lining the banks.  Meet the sisters along the way:  Afternoon Delight, Heart Failure and Bonkers and afterwards enjoy loads of smaller rapids on your way down to Wild Women and finally LDS before the run down on continuous white water to the Pull out Pool.

Cost: $90.00 per person.Meeting place and time. Please email.Reservations:  farnwide@mweb.co.zw
Help!

Accommodation available at:

Aberfoyle Lodge www.aberfoylelodge.com
Pungwe Drift Cottages  www.farandwide.co.zw
Mutarazi Cottages www.farandwide.co.zw
Mutarazi Falls Camping huts www.farandwide.co.zw
FAR and WIDE outdoor education centre www.farandwide.co.zw
Pamushana Cottage  www.farandwide.co.zw
Hornbill House www.aberfoylelodge.comFacts at a glance:Four trips available on the Pungwe River
Combinations of all four possible.

Family Day: 12 km of grade 1/2/3 river suitable for ages 7 year+ cost: $70.00 per person under 12 $50

Bridge 2 Bridge:  5 km of grade 3 rafting suitable for ages 7 year+ cost: $70.00 per person under 12 $50

Bridge 2 Bridge & Beyond:  7 km of grade 3 rafting suitable for ages 7 year+ cost $90 per person under 12 $50.  Includes picnic lunch.

Bernie’s Run:  7 km of grade 4 rafting suitable for ages 16 year+ cost: $90.00 per person.  Includes picnic lunch.

River Bugging:  Some sections can be run in our “river bugs”... think one man/woman raft!

Season +/- November to May.  All trips are dependent on water levels on the day.

All river trips are available as guided kayaking trips as well for people who are able to kayak at the appropriate skill level.  Family Day Grade 2, Bridge 2 Bridge Grade 3 and Bernie’s Run Grade 4.  FAR and WIDE offers skill training programmes in rafting and kayaking.  Our kayaking trips can be fully guided or private kayakers can use our concession as long as they book before hand and pay the access/permit fee.   We do not allow private trips at the same time as our commercial trips as this interferes with the privacy of our guests.  Private rafting/tubing is not allowed on the Pungwe River.

In addition to the above FAR and WIDE offers a special interest multi-day rafting and or kayaking expedition through the Pungwe Gorge from our camp below the Pungwe Falls to the end of Bernie’s Run in the Honde Valley.

For full details and reservations please contact us on e-mail:  farnwide@mweb.co.zw

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