Whitewater

4000 Islands of Mekong River

by sam-ellis
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
   Whitewater
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
Big volume channels, small ‘creeky’ lines, and rowdy waterfalls; the Mekong River is a whitewater kayakers paradise
Sam Ellis
by Sam Ellis

Sam enjoys whitewater adventures; travelling to find new rivers, running new lines and waterfalls with bigger water levels.

The seed was planted in December 2006, I remember it well. I got a call from a good friend asking if I’d like to go on a trip to South-East Asia for a few weeks over the New Year, paddling and life styling on the Mekong River in Laos. After seeing a few pictures and the paddling film ‘Jehovas Wetness’, I was more than fired up for the trip with fellow FatCats, but it wasn’t to be. With it being planned so last minute, the reality of being not only a paddler but a husband and father meant that I simply couldn’t save the money in time. I reluctantly and painfully had to miss out on one of the earlier missions out there.

4000 Islands of the Mekong River in Laos
4000 Islands of the Mekong River in Laos

Fast forward almost 10 years to the date. I had just recovered from an injury at the end of 2016 and was in need of getting back in shape. I was also craving an adventure plus that whitewater hustle. That’s when young Jordy Searle came to my aid with an invite to the 4000 Islands! He and his usual partner in crime Ari Walker were planning a 3 week stint in Laos with their good friend TT Cakekinson. It was an invite I’d be mad to refuse and I was stoked to meet the other members of Gradient and Water.

Mekong Shuttle
Mekong Shuttle
Finally at the Mekong after 10 years of waiting!
Finally at the Mekong after 10 years of waiting!

Man was I glad that I went, what a trip! Or was it more of a holiday? Every single day running a variety of world class whitewater. From big volume channels, small ‘creeky’ lines, and rowdy waterfalls, the Mekong had it all.

Sam Ellis Mekong River
Sam Ellis Mekong River
rowdy waterfalls
rowdy waterfalls
one of the many channels
one of the many channels

There were warm-up channels through to ones that would get your heart thumping. And if you weren’t feeling it you could walk away to build up some courage to come back and run it another day, it was a kayakers paradise.

Whitewater kayaking paradise
Whitewater kayaking paradise

All the days would end up in the bars of Don Det; eating possibly the best food I’ve ever had, drinking cold beer or buckets of gin, and Salsa dancing every night! There aren’t many destinations that I know of where you’re in such an affordable place, with lots of young travelers, and have access to some of the most diverse whitewater in a single location.

Ari and Chris
Ari and Chris

Thanks to the lads from earlier ventures for the inspiration and a massive shout out to Jordy, Ari and Chris for the high stoke and most memorable trip, chur boys!!

Gradient and Water crew
Gradient and Water crew
 
There aren’t many destinations that I know of where you’re in such an affordable place and have access to some of the most diverse whitewater in a single location.

PHOTO CAPTION
Images by Ari Walker and Jordy Seale

RELATED STORIES