Wave surfing the Amblève river

Last Friday Willem and I headed to the middle reaches of the Amblève river in the Belgian Ardennes for a day packraft trip. We originally wanted to make a multi day trip over the Ourthe river, but the huge amounts of rain caused too high water levels for a legal float on nearly all rivers in the Ardennes including the Ourthe. The Amblève river however remained an exception and was now the only decent choice we had left. No whining at all! This became the fourth run on the river for myself, the best so far with such a pompous flow. The Amblève is a nice class II river in its middle section with lots of scattered boulders in the river bed which create nice playing spots. A beautiful artificial wave surfing spot can be encountered under the bridge at Stavelot, but pay good attention to avoid the thin metal rod in the left section under the bridge. This rod could literally slash your packraft in two like a circular saw! The biggest waterfall of Belgium follows at Coo. One day I’d like to skip this portage and throw myself over this 13m fall! Hmmm, just keep on dreaming… Some impressions in the video.

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Last packraft overnighters of this winter

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20°c and nothing like burning sunshine from dawn till dusk. The first light green leaves are already appearing on the branches. Water levels are dropping to unusually low values for the time of the year. Winter is long forgotten.

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How fast can nature show its other face? During the last two weeks I’ve made two packraft overnighters when the weather was yet cold and dull, one solo in Biesbosch NP and a 44km run on the Warsche and Amblève river in the Ardennes with Willem last weekend. Water levels were just high enough for relaxed paddling. Today we would get stuck.

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The Biesbosch looked dead and quiet on a grey winter day, but after paddling for some time it just seemed the wildlife is just most abundant this time of the year. Among them I saw a lot of buzzards, a deer trapped on a reed island and a few beavers. I made camp with the trailstar on the tip of a narrow peninsula. Reading a book till deep in the night next to the campfire was very enjoyable with curious rats visiting the bivouac spot and beavers regularly splashing loud in the nearby water. It was difficult to catch a sleep when you have a beaver family as your neighbor. But that made this short overnighter just so much more special.

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