By definition a river is either flat or flowing downhill – therefore the total ascent (meters climbed) for the Drak Descent = Nil. Wrong – X. Remember, there is some exploring to be done from a position of altitude; to find the right river; see where the paddlers are; cross tributaries where they are not too deep or wide; portage around rocky river cliffs and gorges – and sometimes you just lose your way – don’t you, and you need to check-out your surroundings!! Hence the now famous saying “Life is not all down-hill”.
Also, what comes to mind when you think of any river? Water, rocks, vegetation, roots, trees, fish, snakes, crocodiles, etc. So, how on earth are we going to ride next to all that?? Well, with some difficulty! – but wherever we can, we are going to do exactly that – by using cattle, walking, Eland, horse, jeep, other and occasionally bike trails and/or no trails at all to keep a tail on those canoeists. We can’t let them get away’!!
Many of the trails are virgin and are cobbled together by a couple of bridges (some floating but according to local folklore the Euro Steel “Waltzing Bridge” at Ekhutuleni on Day 1 being the most fearsome!) some berms and switchbacks and a couple of rocky gorges and cliff portages. Oh! …. and unlike the Voortrekkers, a couple of stretches of potholed tar!! Once again, depending on the River Gods there may well be some river wading – at which point you may want to borrow a canoe?
So, please don’t expect all tailored and manicured trails. But, the good news is that eventually on Day 1 and the start of Day 2, you will get down to the well-established and legendary Sani Spoors river, forest and cattle trails.
The course will follow small tributaries of the Umzimkulu river from their source at Restmount Children’s Home down to Underberg on day 1 (+-45 kms with +-500m of ascent) and then from Underberg to the Umzimkulu River Lodge (+-40kms with +-400m of ascent) on day 2 – allowing you time to get home reasonably early on Sunday.
Whilst the days are not particularly long or hilly, feedback from most of the riders last year is that the route is tough, technical and challenging – but the event spirited and fun. They said “Please don’t change anything!”