Basing himself in the southern nations of the African continent, Andrew Kellett is no stranger to action and adventure on the amazing rivers of the world. Andrew’s enthusiasm for rafting, especially with regard to training, stems from the ultimate goal of being safe on the water before any other outcome. When he first started rafting, there was very little regulation and control on the river. Since then the market has changed and the industry has had to become more professional.
How did you get started in rafting?
I started rafting when I was studying my Graphic Design diploma. Guiding was a great way to get in to the outdoors, learn some new skills, meet amazing people and earn some money at the same time. As I learnt, rivers are also the ticket to the ultimate getaway and take you to amazing destinations.
Which has been your most memorable experience on the river and why?
I’ve had many experiences in my river career but some that do stand out are the First SUP decent of the Zambezi below Victoria Falls in 2016. I have rafted and kayaked this river many times but to SUP through these rapids was the ultimate challenge!
The Camel White Water Challenge in South Africa – Augrabies Gorge in 1999. The most epic scenery, challenging whitewater and very competitive teams made this event a stand out.
I have also led several kayak trips on the White Nile in Uganda, before the first two dams destroyed the free flowing river. We ran the very first Nile Festival with NRE, and this opened up the gateway for kayakers to explore the river.
In 2010, I was part of a team who were invited on a exploratory kayak trip to West Sumatra, Indonesia to paddle the rivers and see what potential they had for rafting and kayaking. Every river we paddled was a first decent. The most beautiful rivers – a real hidden gem.
Finally kayaking the Zambezi with my 15 year old son for the first time will always be a standout.
Worst moment on a river?I was involved in the recovery of victims of a tubing accident in South Africa which saw 13 people loose their lives on one trip. Watching loved ones waiting for the recovery of victims was a wake up call on how nature can turn a fun trip into a disaster very quickly. My motivation remains to make commercial rafting as safe as possible.
How do you maintain a life balance?
I run an adventure company specialising in water based activities (Gravity Adventures). Whitewater Rafting, sea kayaking, SUPing and coasteering. We offer multi-day rafting trips in the mountainous deserts bordering between South African and Namibia, various kayak and rafting trips around Cape Town and whitewater kayak trips and training around the world. We are also very involved in sea kayaking and SUP on rivers and in the ocean. For fun I pull our my Kite Board and Foil and get away from it all.
Any words of wisdom to those new to rafting?
Learn from the experts, learn correct techniques as early as you can. Experience a variety of rivers to allow you to read water better and develop good judgement. Respect the river, but always remain challenged. It’s a fine balance.
What do you think is the key strength of the IRF?
An international community of like minded people and guides who are talking the same language and facing the same challenges and experiences. Guides are able to move around and freelance around the world. It also sets the international standard for the industry and gives it direction.
When will we see you next?
I continue to train and assess around the world, specifically around Africa and will be helping out with the Zambezi Rafting Festival this year in October. I hope to make it to Europe in 2019 for a Training conference and to do some kayaking.
Find out more about the Zambezi White Water Festival here.
Andrew is one of our River Family. Are You?
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