Triwater's Tour

48 images Created 17 May 2015

In January of 2015, three concerned activists, Troy Glover, Franz Fuls and Brett Merchant began an adventure that has helped bring awareness to one of South Africa’s largest conservation issues. Together the team attempted to kayak from the source of the Vaal River to the Atlantic Ocean via the Orange River, hoping to complete the largest continuous body of water within the country. Their journey took them almost 2,500 kilometres across one of the world’s last truly wild places.

Their mission began with knowledge that agriculture, mining and commercial industry were causing a detrimental affect to the country’s water systems. Key to understanding and raising awareness was educating local riverside communities about the biodiversity in their environments, along with teaching them to monitor water quality. Utilizing the established mini-SASS initiative, they engaged with communities, schools, farmers and leaders, helping to create monitoring programs which will establish a baseline for river health across the country.

We followed the team half way through their expedition. Tracking them via 4x4 across the Kalahari desert and through the Richersveld UNESCO World Heritage site, until we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean in Alexander Bay. Beginning at the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers, we located the kayakers and learned of the hardships they had faced during the first half of the expedition. Water levels across the country had been very low, caused by drought and excessive industry. They had dragged their kayaks hundreds of kilometres on foot, in order to pass sections of unmanageable river. In the end, they completed the remaining Orange River via a combination of paddling and overland transport.

The result of this expedition was to bring together diverse communities around a common and shared issue. Helping to establish a dialogue and raising awareness across the country, the three adventures laid the groundwork for a sustainable future for the river systems in South Africa.

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The expedition was also cover by ‘Carte Blanche’, a leading investigative journalism program. The story is available here:
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