Get to know your IRF BOD – Kianoosh Mehrabi

Kianoosh Mehrabi was first elected to the IRF BOD in 2015 when he became Co-head of the Recreation and Conservation Committee. In 2017, with the growth of importance of conservation this committee was split to form two committees and Kianoosh became Chair of the Conservation Committee, which became the Sustainability Committee in 2021.

We spoke to Kianoosh to find out more.

Can you give us a short history of your rafting experience

I started kayaking when I was 13 years old (1985). For many years I had watched videos of whitewater rafting and kayaking but didn’t know how or where to get into whitewater sports. So I started with many other water sports such as swimming, flat water canoeing and kayaking, water skiing etc, but they weren’t enough for me and didn’t satisfy my adventurous side.

I was on a wildlife tour in India looking for Bengal Tigers in 2002. After finishing the tour I had a few days free time so I decided to go to Uttrakhan Province, the holy province for Indians, the origin of the holy Ganges River. It was not only the most famous place for yoga and meditation but also a newly famous place for rafting. I joined a rafting tour for the first time and I fell in love with rafting. I found my real love!

I combined rafting and tourism. It was the best combination! I could have water adventures and tourism together so I had enough time for both tourism and adventure sport. White water rafting in Iran was a relatively new adventure activity started in 2003 with early expeditions and rafting trips to the Himalayas (India and Nepal) arranged by me, the first Iranian raft guide and river expedition leader. Many Iranians had the chance to paddle in the Himalayan Rivers – Alaknanda, Ganga, Trisuli, etc.

After gaining knowledge and experience in 2007 I devised “River Ecotourism in Iran” which was considered by the Iranian Tourism Organizations as a national development plan for the country. The plan was based on River Tourism safety standards and Eco-tourism principals. The main aims were: promoting white water activities in tourism and sport, preserving nature and conserving rivers, empowering local communities by employment and economic development.

I have been doing rafting in different fields of sport and adventure activities since 2002. I have been trip leader and expedition leader in a few first descent programs in different parts of Iran such as exploring rivers Sirvan, Ghezel Ozan, Haraz, Karoon, Shahrood etc. Also I have travelled to different countries such as India, Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, Uganda, Serbia, Bosnia, etc for rafting.

I have been cooperating with the IRF as a judge in different level competitions since 2009.

Why did you get involved with rafting?

Rafting is more than a sport or an adventure activity. I look at rafting and white water activities in 3 different fields: Rafting as a Sport, Rafting as an Eco-Adventure Tourism Activity, and Rescue. No other activity can be wonderful as rafting because:

*Rafting as a Sport: It is an amazing sport which needs your soul and body together. You are in the hands of our mother nature and you can get energy from it!

*Rafting is an Eco Adventure Activity: It is a unique kind of adventure tourism you can explore the nature at the same time help to conserve rivers and nature as well as bringing benefits for the local people and earn yourself

*Rafting and White Water activities for Rescue: In the river, accidents or floods, our knowledge and skills can help save people and animals. This is the most valuable part of rafting and white water skills to rescue lives.

No other sports or adventure activity can be like rafting.

When I paddle I explore the nature, practice sport and retrain rescue techniques!

Rafting is my world!

KianooshWhat do you hope to achieve in your time on the BOD in the next few years?

It is an honor for me to work as a team member of the IRF. As a team member I would like to do my best to have rafting as the most sustainable sport and adventure activity.

I would like to achieve more sustainable rivers, more sustainable local people and more sustainable rafting.

What plans have you developed for the next two years?

We have a few plans to developed, but the most important ones are:

  • Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions in rafting events.
  • Developing Rafting and Sustainability webinars in different parts of the world in different languages
  • Developing connection with the international and national organizations which are active in the field of sustainability

Are there any other activities / sports you are involved with? How does this influence / impact on your time with rafting?

My job is adventure travel, and I try to put rafting in my plans if possible. This often allows me to spend more time for rafting. In non-rafting trips, it makes me miss rafting more.

I am also involved in white water rescue and education, so I have more time to spend on the river and rafting while I am in a water rescue activity.

What is your favourite rafting destination and why?

My most favorite destination for rafting is my country, Iran. There are lots of rivers that we need to explore, and I would love to be one of the river explorers in Iran. Also I would love to see more of my country which is new in rafting and river adventures. I would like to help promote river adventures in Iran.

There are a few destinations that I love to paddle in such as Alaska, Patagonia, Himalayas etc.

Which is your favourite WRC or ERC and why?

I participated in many great WRC and ERC events. My favorite WRC has been the 2017 Japan WRC. Every aspect was more than I could have imagined, including Organization, Order, People, Nature, Volunteers, and Organizers.

What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?

I love to watch whitewater kayaking and rafting as well as skiing and climbing.

What TV series did you binge watch during the pandemic?

I enjoyed watching many action and spy movies during the pandemic.

If you could host a celebrity dinner party, which five guests would you invite and why (they can be living or deceased)?

I would love to invite Slash (the guitar player), Pink Floyd, Nicole Kidman, David Attenborough and Robert De Niro