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      Kenya Bomb Section I Rags to Riches

      Kenya Bomb Section I Rags to Riches

      Section Name: “Rags to Riches”

      River: Nyamindi

      Rating: 9/10

      Country: Kenya

      Length: 3.8miles/6km

      Difficulty: 4.3

      Mandatory Portages: 0

      Style: Tight sections, clean drops, water boofs

      Time: 1hr from Savage Wilderness, 35min on water minimum, 20min shuttle back to top.

      Put In: https://goo.gl/maps/rTcSpXBrg7dpQ2qR6

      Put In Style: Short Trail [5minutes]

      Take Out: https://goo.gl/maps/QJKLAV4WCjyM9g2v8

      Take Out Style: Bridge

      Gauge: 5ft drop underneath takeout bridge should be scrapey at the lip on river right. If it’s healthy flow, it is likely too high unless you know it well. Anything below that will be perfect.




      Although there are many incredible joy sections in the world, Rags to Riches holds its own. It’s short but packed full of beautiful pieces of whitewater. While we don't want to take you off your guard, it is astounding how clean and nice the rapids and waterfalls are on this section. When you bomb top to bottom, it takes 35 minutes, with no portages, and no shit rapids. It is a must do if you come to Kenya.


      At the put in, you will park at the park entrance, and pay 250 Kenyan shillings per person to enter. From the gate walk 150ft up the road and take the nice trail to the right. Follow that trail til you get to a walking bridge, cross the bridge and find a nice trail to the water from there. Hike shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes from gate to on the water. Once you are on the water it will be a few minutes of class 2, before getting to the first good section.

      You will start getting a few smaller water boofs as the section begins. Then when you come to your first tallerr horizon, go middle right and boof, its about 8ft (2.5M) tall. After that you get another water boof under a log before getting two back to back 11ft (3.5M) drops. First one enter middle right and take a fat lefty boof, you will land in some spray and come flying out. There is a slight pocket on the right side but at normal flows it’s easy to paddle in and out, lots of space. Around the corner is the 2nd one, which you can enter anywhere middle, and boof with whichever blade feels better. Both are scoutable from river right. It will chill out for a little bit with a few fun rapids and smaller boofs.

      As the river gets narrower, you will hit a nice water boof before going under a bridge. The boof after the bridge is very tight, but goes well. Move right to left in the right channel, and boof straight down the middle. [Danes top tip: If you get some of the small flake on the left it helps you boof through.]. You can scout this from the big boulder in the middle of the river.

      The next boof is a hard left turn. Enter the rapid above in the middle, follow the flow around and then do a big lefty boof turning hard left as you go off. Around the corner you will get to the best and last sequence of the run.

      It’s a double boof into a perfect 30ft(10meter) drop back to back. You can scout easily on river right, there is a trail going along the river and down around the waterfall. The line is enter the double boof middle or middle left, take a big long boof, as you land the first boof it will then launch you off the second boof. Then for the big drop enter anywhere down the middle, and enjoy. From there you will paddle for a chill few minutes before getting to the bridge for the take out.

      It takes only 20 minutes from the take out bridge, to being back on the water at the put it, so we highly recommend heading back up for another lap!

      You can also continue kayaking downstream where there is another 30fter(10M) waterfall. On the first descent with lower water, only Dane fired up a super tight entry into the waterfall. At higher flows the whole crew sent a really cool left to right boof line. Further downstream there is another waterfall under a bridge that to our knowledge remains un-run and a perfect 50fter just below that. 


      The R.I.D.E Grading System

      The R.I.D.E Grading System

      The system for classifying whitewater from 1-6 has been in place for many years, and although it has the benefit of being simple, many of us have long felt that it cannot possibly encompass the variables of whitewater in such a small range of numbers. For example;

      What makes a class 5, a class 5? 

      Is it the actual skill level you are needing to be able to handle the challenges of that river or is it the risks you are facing, and the dangers of that river?

      A class 5 river at higher flows may not be a class 5 at lower water levels, so why should that run still be considered a class 5?

      Rivers come in many different shapes and sizes and each with their own dangers. Grading a river will always be subjective but we felt the need to try and close the gap on information and provide access to a new system, which we hope will allow people to make better, safer decisions when choosing whether to put on or not.

      With this new system we want to honour some of the structure that is currently in place throughout the kayaking world, but improve upon it. Instead of a single number, we want to incorporate a two number system. This allows you to separate the skill level required to handle the challenges of that river, from the consequences or risk you may face. Below is how it would work:


      The consequence number is not meant to be an incremental system for measuring a kayakers progression. Just because someone has run a 4.4, doesn’t mean a 3.8 is below their skill level  (4.4 means you have more room for error, whereas a 3.8 has very little to none).  The consequence numbers are there to give a better understanding of what kind of risks you may face on the water, the 1-5 skill level number is where you will measure your progression.

      The split between the difficulty of whitewater and consequence grading rivers will allow you to look at rivers/rapids as a whole and better understand what kind of run they’re heading into. For example, a 4.3 is great for someone looking to step-up from a 3 skill level since they will know the risks are lower.  Whereas a 4.8 clearly means there isn’t going to be much room for error,  such a run might be riskier than they’re looking for as they look to progress their skills. 

      The idea is to provide more information to people. This is especially necessary when it comes to a person making the choice of what river to get on or choosing to kayak down something at a new water level.

      One goal for this system is to fill a need to allow for rivers with a wide range of water levels to be graded accordingly, since you can adjust skills needed as well as consequences for missing lines based on the flow. Some rivers get easier at higher water but often more dangerous and some rivers simply get harder and most certainly more dangerous at high water. Being able to say that a 3.3 run at high flows becomes a 4.5, would help give a better perspective to someone who is unsure if they are ready for that step-up to those flows. 

      Another hope is to provide two grades for rivers, one with portages and one without, to open up access to a wider range of rivers. Just because a few rapids are much harder than the rest of the run does not mean the entire river deserves that grade. An example of this is the Green River Narrows, which is accessible to a wide range of paddlers if you portage the “big three”. Without the “big three”, the river is still consequential but doesn’t require the same level of skill and risks are minimised, all be it still there! Using this grading system, the Green without those rapids could be rated as 4.5-4.6, which gives much more information about the run than simply the class I-V scale. If there are rapids that can be portaged, the rest of the run is still open to those that don’t feel ready for those harder rapids.

      No matter what system you use or what the grade of river is these ratings will still need to be used wisely. There are other factors to apply, like ability to catch the eddies to portage, difficulty of the portages, and the margin of error in the rapids leading into portages. In the end, there are rivers out there that people should be able to experience, even if they aren’t running the biggest rapids on that section. In this way, they can experience new sections of whitewater while also getting a first-hand look at these harder rapids, and potentially set-up new goals for their progression.

      Ultimately the  goal of this system is to allow all to make better and more reasoned decisions. 

      Stay safe and stoked out on the water, 


      Examples of this grading system on well known rivers:

      Green Narrows 100% 6-10” : 4.6

      Green Narrows 200% 11-20” : 5.6

      Little White 2’3” : 4.5

      Little White 3’4”: 4.7

      Little White 4’6” : 5.7

      Little White 5’+ : 5.8

      Upper Jalacingo : 4.6

      Upper Gauley : 3.5

      Garganta Rio Claro : 4.7

      *Note: These river ratings are only meant as examples of how this system could be applied. Grading will always be subjective.

      Flying with your kayak

      Flying with your kayak

      Send’s collective knowledge of getting your kayak on the plane

      One of the best parts to our sport is travelling the globe to search out new rivers to enjoy. However, one of the worst parts of our sport is getting a kayak onto an airplane.

      Our top tips to getting your kayak onto an airplane are :

      Wrap the kayak up. Most airlines policies have a small print that state kayaks most be in a protective bag to fly, while Bren often gets away with it by kicking his kayak to prove it’s build quality at the check in desk. We would advise that you don’t get caught out even if the airline says they take kayaks. Buy a board bag, make your own, wrap it in a duvet or a tarp, just cover the bloody thing.

      Be confident. No matter what you’re doing smile and act like it’s no big deal.

      Be there early.

      Have the airlines policy for over sized luggage / windsurfs / kayaks screenshot and ready to hand when you go to the check in desk.

      Fly out of bigger airports and with bigger planes that have an easier time fitting a kayak.

      Call ahead, some airlines require you to call ahead and reserve your sports equipment.

      Make the kayak easy to grab for the baggage handlers, helps a lot with short connections.

      Don’t be afraid to disguise your kayak and call it a windsurf or kiteboard.

      Disclaimer, Airlines can change their policies at short notice. Please double and triple check on their website before committing to a flight. We are not responsible for getting your kayak onto the plane, just trying to share some knowledge and tips to hopefully allow it to go smoother for you!


      Air Canada

      Air Canada is a dream to fly with. A kayak and paddle bag counts as one piece and costs $100 dollars to check in. No word on the weight limit but they do state normal checked bags up to 32kg will be accepted. Air Canada is Kalob’s airline of choice.

      Alaska Air

      Alaskan airlines will accept kayaks as part of your checked baggage weight provided it is not longer than 115inches. If it is over your checked baggage allowance then standard over weight fees apply.

      American Air

      Will fly various types of boards, including stand up paddle boards but there is no mention of kayaks on the website. They do state that any piece of sports equipment not listed will be accepted at standard check in bag fees.

      Air New Zealand

      Will accept all sports equipment up to 2M long and 32kg in weight. No sign of the fees they would want for that.

      Austrian Air

      Does not state that they will take kayaks but will accept long boards up to 315cm. Rate depends on destination can be 130 euro to 400.


      No mention of kayaks but they will accept boards up to 370cm! Price varies for destination.

      British Airways

      Website states that they will accept kayaks up to 190cm in length. We do however have a friend that flew a 270cm kayak with them recently and was fine. Luck of the draw. Oversize and overweight fees may apply.


      No mention of kayaks but they will fly boards up to 315cm in length for $160. Wrap it up and smile wide at the check in desk?


      Will accept kayaks up to 300cm in length. Rate varies for different destinations. Adrian adds that you can book your kayak online and they where great when he flew with them.

      Czech Airlines

      Will take various sports equipment up to 250cm in length and 32kg in weight. No specific mention of kayaks though. 59 euro per piece

      Cathay Pacific

      Will accept most sports equipment as part of your checked lugagage. No mention of length, weight or types of sporting equipment. Don’t be over your checked luggage amount. It gets pricy really quick.

      Copa Airlines

      Will not accept kayaks but will accept boards up to a max size of a 115 linear inches. Max weight is 45kg.


      State on their website that they will not accept kayaks. However they will accept boards up to 292cm of combined linear dimensions. Overweight baggage fees apply.


      Will accept all most all sports equipment as part of your checked luggage. It gets pricy very quickly if you are over your weight limit but you can rest assured they won’t bat an eye lid about a kayak at the check in desk. Bren has flown river kayaks with them several times.

      Egypt air

      Kayaks are not permitted. Surf boards are permitted up to 2M in length and 32kg.

      Ethiopian air

      Will accept kayaks up to 32kg for $200. No mention of size but it includes a set of paddles. Bren flew with them to Zambia last year. However we know of two kayakers that had their kayaks turned away recently.


      Who would ever have thought this airline would be so kayak friendly? Book a large piece of sports equipment on to your existing ticket on their website and off you go. Bren mentions that they had an automated check in desk when he flew with them and with a steady foot propping up his kayak he was able to make 45kg magically turn into 32kg and the robot printed out his ticket.

      Hawain airlines

      Too busy having a good time to make a good website. No mention of kayaks but will accept surfboards up to 23kg and a 115inches in length. Fare depends on route, Free up to $150.

      Iceland Air

      Will accept kayaks up to 250cm. Fee varies for route. $125 to $170.


      No mention of kayaks on the website but they will accept boards up to 3.5M in lengh. Fees vary and policies change quickly. Adrian adds he got his kayak on the plane with them a few years ago but they were hot on trying to identify his windsurf as a kayak.

      Kenyan Airlines

      Do not accept kayaks. Not a good choice. However Kalob has flown a freestyle kayak with them before.


      No mention of kayaks on the website but kite boards are accepted up to 300cm in length and 32kg. Extra fee may apply. Bren has flown with a “windsurfing board” out of Manchester airport over ten times.

      Japan Airlines

      Will accept kayas up to 190cm in lengh and 23kg in weight for $200


      Looks like they are currently changing their policies wording but the principle seems the same. They will fly most sports equipment. Adrian has flown kayaks with them a few times, right up until they started charging 400euros per piece of large sports equipment!

      Latam airlines

      Will not accept kayaks. Will take boards upto 3.2m regardless of height or width up to 32kg or 45kg depending on the route. Fee varies per route.

      Norwegian Air

      Will accept all sports equipment! Up to 2.5m in length and 32kg in weight. Have heard only good things from other kayakers about this airline.

      Ryan Air

      Currently no mention of kayaks on their website. However they do accept various types of sports equipment including boards as long as you pre-book online. Bren has flown kayaks with them a few times.

       South West

      Will accept kayaks for $75 . No mention of length or weight restrictions in their policy. Kalob has flown two river running kayaks with no issues.

      Qatar airways

      Will take almost any sports equipment less than 3m in length as part of your checked luggage. They recently added a more generous checked luggage allowance for most destinations up from 30kg to 46kg. Bren has flown kayaks to Zambia and Indonesia with no issues.

      Swiss airlines

      No mention of kayaks on the website but they will accept boards and bulky sports equipment up to 315cm in length. Price varies per route.

      South African airlines

      Do not accept kayaks. Will accept boards up to 270cm and 23kg for free.

      Turkish Airlines

      Bren and Adrian’s airline of choice. 100 euro to get your kayak on the plane and very few f*cks given, ever as long as it’s under 32kg.

      United airlines

      Do not accept kayaks.  Will accept boards up to 45kg in weight and a 115 linear inches. Kalob adds they are very customer service focused and he has shown up early, smiled a lot and had great success with getting his “boards” on the plane.

      Virgin Atlantic

      Does not mention kayaks but will accept most sports equipment as part of your checked baggage. For anything over 23kg an overweight fee applies.

      West Jet

      Will take kayaks and includes your paddle bag. Max length is 300cm. Over size and over wight fees may apply.

       Best of luck with your travels, catch you on the water!




      Meghalaya, India - A SEND Smash and Grab

      Meghalaya, India - A SEND Smash and Grab

      The Nepalese call it Sagarmatha, meaning “Goddess of the Universe,” the people of Tibet call it Chomolungma, meaning “Mother of Mountains.”  Today, most of the World refers to the tallest mountain on Earth as Mt. Everest.  The native names of this magnificent mountain alone instill a sense of wonder and its importance, but setting eyes on this peak first hand is an experience that leaves all in a sense of awe. 

      The dramatic landscape of this mountain range on the rare, clear day as I flew into Meghalaya signaled how special this mission was going to be, and how much different this area of the World was in comparison to the flatlands and maple trees of Eastern Canada.

      Bren, Adrian and the Cali boys – Carson, Johnny, and Evan -  arrived a day before I did and I was eager to meet up, hear about their first day on the River and get kayaking myself! Landing in Guwahati after flying over the Himalayas and seeing its Whitewater rich regions gave great insight into the potential of this trip.  

      Basing out of the Shillong Whitewater Village, along the banks of the Umtrew River, I had 10 days on the ground to smash and grab the Megalayan classics and I was fired up to get things rolling.  The trip unfolds in the photographs below, Enjoy.


      “An extremely rare, clear day on the flight from New Delhi to Guwahati.  This flight path follows the Southern ridge of the Himalayas and delivers a spectacular view of the tallest mountain on Earth – Mt. Everest.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       “Adrian getting his feet wet on the true joy river of the region, the Lower Umtrew is 25+ Km’s of instant classic style whitewater.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “Bren getting creative with downriver freestyle on every feature on the Lower Umtrew, this time, a sick kickflip on a small boof.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “The steps up the side of the dam at the takeout are a tricky task, the challenge is to get up without using the rope.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “All smiles form Bren as the crew embarks on a 3-day journey into the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Bren takes on the first significant horizon line of the Lower Kynshi, seeing a line that none of us saw…” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Scouting became the routine on the Kynshi at every horizon.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “Bren on a mission, lining up and descending into the mist of the 50ft tall, ‘Shillong in a box’ waterfall.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Once it starts, the Kynshi continues to drop extensively, here Adrian enters Griff’s Gash, putting the slicey kayaks to the ultimate test.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Bren taking an up close and personal look at one of the massive holes that appear in every rapid on the Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      "2 swims, 1 broken boat and a wild first day.  The boys settle into camp 1 and recover from all the excitement and sunshine on one of the many pristine, sand beaches that line the canyon of the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
      “On the water train, Adrian doing his best to rehydrate on the go.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
      “Kalob midway through the first big section of day 2, slicey kayak getting bow up through the colossal features becomes a common scene on day 2.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
      “The important places, the important people.  Stopping to enjoy the pristine beauty and re-fill the water bottles at the spring-fed waterfall.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Looking for the line, Adrian charging through a lengthy read and run rapid as we all get more comfortable with these kayaks, in this style of whitewater.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Driving, the name of the game in India.  One-track roads, mountain passes, thick jungle and no straight lines on the entire region, it takes the crew hours upon hours to reach some put-ins.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
      “Stellan the master, as mentioned above, driving is the name of the game Stellan was the best of the best.  Keeping us safe and putting in the hours.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “We heard the Kopoli was low, but we had to see ‘The best river in the World’ for ourselves.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
      “The final falls on the Kopili, typically a river wide veil of crystal blue water, at this point in the day, we were just stoked it had enough water in one line for a solid boof.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
      "Getting vertical, Bren going bow to the sky below the final waterfall of the Kopili, guaranteed smiles following a long day.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

      The Lower Kynshi River

      The Lower Kynshi River

      The Lower Kynshi River has been labeled by some as the best river in the World.  Since its discovery, and through its first descents, the early exploration of this major river system revealed to its founders the true magic within the walls of the Kynshi. 

      The Kynshi is typically completed as a 3-day trip, which seems drawn-out considering the length of the section is only 30km (18-miles).  This speaks to what is found in the depths of the canyon carved by the Kynshi River.

      The Kynshi can be classified by a few different sections by landscape and tributaries.  At its highest point, the Upper Kynshi flows at a small gradient with a lower volume. Transitioning into the Middle Kynshi as it accepts more water from its tributaries and becomes the Lower Kynshi at its confluence with the Wah Blei River.  A major tributary to the river system and another classic Meghalayan River.  The Lower Kynshi narrows after its confluence and the rapids, waterfalls, and portages commence shortly after.  The action is non-stop as the Kynshi winds south through the mountains as one constant gorge until the Rilang River flows in from river right.  This tributary marks the end of the steep whitewater on the Kynshi and shortly after it comes to an almost literal end, as the river flows out of India and into Bangladesh.  The border marks the takeout, and one can see why as we drive up, up, up and away from the river and into the depths of India, looking back over the vast, flat expanse of the lowlands of Bangladesh, seeing the Kynshi turn into a mirage of canals and sand bars as its flow is re-directed for irrigation.


      The reason the Kynshi can be nominated for the best river in the World?  The whitewater is the simple answer; its high volume delivers big water wave trains and colossus hydraulics in some rapids, to tight and technical moves in others, 20ft and 50ft waterfalls sprinkled in to keep you on your toes.  Throw in the pristine sand beaches, the perfect temperatures, isolation from society and being out there in the mountains with your best friends, this river defines kayaking!  I walked almost as many rapids as I kayaked on this trip as I often chose to respect the river in the extremely exposed landscape, but it has me already planning my next trip into the Kynshi!  As always, pictures say a thousand words, enjoy the photo essay below and massive praise to Joe Rae-Dickens and crew for exploring this area over the past decade!



      "Bren Orton all smiles as the crew embarks on their adventure into the Lower Kynshi.”

       "Bren Orton all smiles as the crew embarks on their adventure into the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Soaking in the scenery on the adventure in before the Lower Kynshi drops into the Gorge.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Bren Orton dipping his toes into the prolific whiteware on the Kynshi in the first steep horizon line of the trip.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Doing his best to keep his boat straight, Bren Orton gets a feel for the white-water coming ahead on the Kynshi.” - Photo by Johnny Chase


      “ Kalob Grady taking a lengthy scout, visualizing the hard see landing zone in this tight drop.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay


      “Bren Orton takes to the sky on the waterfall, Shilling in a Box. The entire flow of the Kynshi plummets 50ft in a roaring spectacle of the river's power."  - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Some scouts taking longer than others, Evan Moore and Kalob Grady trying to find the line that Bren Orton saw…” - Photo by Carson Lindsay


      “The dramatic natural landscape and the larger than life whitewater combine on the Kynshi to consistently take your breath away.  Adrian Mattern dropping into Griff’s Gash.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay


      “Bren Orton cruising through one of the “Chill” rapids…” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “The important places with the important people.  Admiring the natural beauty of the Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Adrian Mattern cashes in on some much-needed water as we cruise into camp on night 1."  - Photo by Johnny Chase


      “Kalob Grady putting the Antix to the test through this colossal rapid to kickstart day 2.”  - Photo by Johhny Chase


      “Adrian Mattern making moves on one of the lower volume boofs to be found on the big water Kynshi.”  - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Bren Orton navigating the boulders and seam lines in search of safe passage.”  - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Cruising down the main street with Adrian Mattern."  - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Bren Orton looking over at a rapid we chose to walk, this time… One of the many rapids we will have to go back for!”  - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “The sun pops over the horizon on day 3, illuminating the valley and bringing the day to life.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “The team packs up camp on day 3, ready for another day on the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady


      “Send on the paddle out of the Lower Kynshi, covering the flats before taking out at the border between India and Bangladesh.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay


      “Bren Orton all smiles as every stroke takes him closer to a cold beer and real food.” - Photo by Kalob Grady