Creeking in Portugal

Text: Katya Kulkova

Photos: Katya&Pring, Jorge Rabico.

It was my first time in a creek boat in 3 years, I was a bit nervous if I can creek at all. The rivers here are very different to what I am used to, they are steep and not that much water. But with the White Water Grand Prix coming closer every day, we had to get in our creekboats some time before Canada.  So we had a look in internet to find what rivers are not far away and started to burn fuel in attempts to find some not very hard whitewater  to run. Regretting not having a guidebook of the area, we couldn’t  find  shit!

Just in time when we gave up Aniol Serrasolses arrived from Catalonia and rescued us from quitting creeking for ever + When you know right people everything is easy. Emilio – friend from Vigo(not far from Vigo), took an afternoon off from baking bread and showed us the Rio Alto Tea and a local restaurant with enormous size local kind of hamburgers for €3.

Next day we went to find a pretty spectacular looking slide we’d seen the night before on the internet. Aniol and Pringle made probably the first descent of this “Cascada de Umia” that day. By the night we were in Portugal meeting Pablo & friends making plans for next days.

Rivers was a bit low at the moment. So the Portuguese crew took as to one of the “big volume” (big for Portugal) Bec & Tamega. And to some very Rocky one, which was probably the rockiest shit we ever seen on the edge of being run-able by a kayak at all.

The best bit of all this time was river the Portuguese most proud of  – Castro Laboreiro, which is located just 25km from the wave we’ve been paddling here in Frieira. It’s the most beautiful gorge I’ve ever seen and the steepest  river I’ve ever done.

The Portuguese crew decided to run both the upper and middle sections in one day, so we did and finished just in time before dark.  The river has two sections. First – several pool drop style slides/waterfalls with a portage in the end, second – rocky rapids and a beautiful cascade of  waterfalls 8,10,12m and big portage of 16m waterfall in the end (still un-run by a kayak, but not un-runnable).

It was such an adventurous day. The most fashionable thing – was to throw your boat in the river just before a waterfall, as 4 from 7 people did.  Even better – you can throw your camera there too or jump  there yourself. By a lucky coincidence I didn’t get this, so I could enjoy all the drops but also had to carry my boat on the portage. We would never be able to run this river on our own in one day, but the guys knew it well, explained the lines, so we could just follow and enjoy.

Thanks to all Portuguese crew for rivers & footage & everything and:

Emilio for Rio Tea. Rabico for Photos,  for housing us in his proper Portuguese home, for the Mamba that we broke and for knowing rivers good. Aniol & Pablo for fishing me and my boat from very nasty sticky hole. To Aniol Serrasolses personally for being a bad ass!

Katya Kulkova


About James Bebbington

2011 ICF World Freestyle Kayak Champion & 2011 ICF World Cup Freestyle Kayak Champion Passionate about Kayaking, Travel, Nature, Dreams, Raw Food & the Beauty of Life. Don't give up on your dreams, listen to your heart!
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