James Puttick is currently studying a PhD examining vegetation and climate change in eastern South Africa. Apart from his scientific interests, he is passionate about photography and wild places. And so it was difficult for him to refuse when the opportunity to photograph and document the landscapes along the length of the Orange River arose. He’s looking forward to spending two months paddling 40 km a day even though the sum total of his training prior to leaving was 25 minutes attempting “eskimo rolls” in his swimming pool in Cape Town. Apparently he’s a fast learner…
Ian Durbach has been training for this trip by working as a lecturer in the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town, where he has been since 2005. At the end of 2012 he moved to a part-time position to have more free time for other pursuits. This is the first, and quite possibly the last, of these pursuits. He is in charge of estimating probabilities of survival at rapids and shouting “hard to shore” at tea-time.
Sam Jack has been avoiding ‘real work’ for approximately his entire life. His latest effort is something of a masterstroke. Along with a medium term postponement of his own work commitments in Cape Town, he has managed to convince two unwitting souls to do the same and join him for the adventure of a lifetime, paddling down almost the entire length of the mighty !Gariep River. Unfortunately, due to a poor response, the selection process for this expedition was not rigorous, with the end result that Sam has ended up with Ian Durbach and James Puttick as companions. Ian can sometimes be seen paddling around inside the shelter of the Hout Bay harbour or (on VERY calm days) along the Seapoint seafront, while James recently took his maiden kayaking voyage across his parents’ swimming pool. Luckily there will be some time to become river hardened before things get fast and bumpy.