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Original ATA News Release
2007 Congress Agenda


Source: WTM London

Many emerging tourism destinations in Africa have identified surfing as a target market, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report (2014), in association with Euromonitor International.
South Africa has an established reputation with the international surfing community but other countries are gaining a foothold. Sierra Leone hosted a week-long competition and festival this September while Ghana will host the Africa Surf Series next year.

Some specialist tour operators are already active in the region – the report reveals. Family surfing holidays in Madagascar, Zanzibar and Mozambique are available from South African tour operator All Aboard Travel, while UK-based Errant Surf includes Morocco, Ghana, South Africa and Mozambique among its surf adventures itineraries.

Other countries with potential include Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Senegal.

The International Surfing Association has made expansion of the sport on the continent a major priority, aiming to stimulate and develop local economies by increasing tourism and creating new jobs.

Estimates suggest that some 35 million across the world are regular surfers. Traditionally more popular in the Americas, Europe and Australasia, surfing is also growing in popularity across African countries, benefitting intra-regional and domestic travel.The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 suggests that “combining a surf holiday with traditional African tourist attractions such as safaris is an effective way for travel retailers to attract older surfers who are prepared to spend more”.

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Surfers are adventurous travellers and Africa offers them a vast coastline with undiscovered and uncrowded beaches.”


River Rafting on Ethiopia's Small Nile
by Maurizio Melloni

The very first descent of the Gel Gel Abay (Small Nile) by my company, Wonz Dar Expeditions of Addis Ababa, began midweek, and after a long 12 hour drive, we arrived at Bahir Dar on Lake Tana, near the Blue Nile Falls (Tisisat). The crew consisted of my friends Leo, Hermias and Ephrem and myself. On the trip north, we stopped by the bridge at Uutet Abay, 65 km south of Bahir Dar, to check out the possibilities for an easy "put in" and to get some feeling of the river itself. After a brief reconnaissance effort, we agreed it looked fabulous, and decided that it would be the ideal spot for "launching" the next day's expedition.

That evening in Bahir Dar, we met Neville, an expert kayaker, who had expressed a few weeks before in Addis, his desire to join our expedition . During a sumptuous Ethiopian dinner, we finalized details, then returned to the hotel and called it a night.

Waking early, we had a hurried breakfast at the hotel in Bahir Dar, after which we drove back to the bridge - six men and all the gear packed into one normal sized 4-WD. Only five people will make the rafting trip, since Hermias will go back to Bahir Dar to try to find and hire a motorboat to tow us back across Lake Tana. The appointment with Hermias was set for the following Sunday at high noon. Here in the attractive resort city of Bahir Dar in northwest Ethiopia, is where the Nile river system merges with the blue waters of Africa's fifth biggest lake. (continued below)

Aquatrails: Expeditions on South Africa's Doring River
Greetings to all who would rather be rafting. Due to the lack of rain last winter, Aquatrails - South Africa's premier river & sea rafting company, was only able to run three Doring River trips, and a great many people were left disappointed at not being able to experience this exhilarating white water adventure. This year we will only be running trips on a first come, first served basis,with a maximum of 20 thrill-seekers being accommodated on each trip.

As soon as water conditions allow it, the first 20 people available will be on their way. The season normally runs from June to September, So call (021) 762-7916 or e-mail a request for a booking form. A deposit of R100 p.p. will secure your place. Also exclusive Corporate & Incentive bookings for 20 or more.
Aquatrails 4 Constantial Rd., Wynberg 7800 T/F: +27 21-762-7916, e-mail: aquatrails@mweb.co.za, www.aquatrails.co.za

Wonz Dar: Continued from above

It took us about an hour to rig the raft and prepare Leo's new inflatable kayak. I gave the usual safety talk to Chernet, an Ethiopian guide from the area, who previously worked for the Ethiopian Tourism Commission. We headed downstream at 10.00 a m, and it didn't take long before we heard the roar of troubled water, and stopped for the usual scouting session. That's a must when you raft a new river. An hour later we decided to make a portage.
Our first real surprise, and not the last by any means, came a few more minutes downstream, when more loud noise reached our ears, which were now as sharply tuned as antennas. We caught the usual eddy to slow the craft down to a stop, and, went on a scouting trip. We disembarked well upstream and had to walk quite a distance to view the rapids. They looked just as big and treacherous as the first stretch of fast water. After checking out every possible angle and waterway to try to run the rapids, we finally decided on the left channel. (Still very fast, but slightly more friendly). The difficult part was to make the right entrance (as with all the rapids one encounters), but this particular area had big drop (what we call a flipper) . Thankfully, we guessed right.

Looking back there I tell you, it appeared huge and scary. The right raft position and side water shoot helped us make the smooth landing. The perfect decision; I managed to stop and picked up Leo, who took the above photos. We carried on to flat water a few hundred meters downstream, and the rest of the day's trip was a very pleasant floating experience, cruising along, with views of corn fields and flocks of bird life; kingfishers, African fish eagles, gray herons, and other varieties. The peasants who gathered by the riverside, were very surprised, and soon we felt like being in a race with bunches of spectators escorting us downstream.

Then our small group of river voyagers decided to camp out amongst the cornfields, so we kept on going downstream until dinner time, where we went ashore near a stream of fresh, clean water. The camping spot we chose was also very public, so we exchanged some wine and utensils for firewood. After dinner, we sat by the fire in a pow wow with five persons who agreed to spend the night by the fireplace to stand guard on our equipment. They kept on saying " We know that nothing will happen to you, this is a peaceful country, but still we prefer to check on you" It was a good excuse to hang out with us, but mutually beneficial.

That night we named the first set of rapids AIDEFFER, which translates as I differ (We did).

We called the second set of rapids BACK PAIN, named after me, Maurizio. The drop was high, and my back didn't like it.

The third set was names Leo's FIRST (Leo is a newly certified WW Rafting guide from California ( this was his first rapid in Ethiopia.)

Before heading for the tents, we realized that the sky was getting ready to give us some more water. As a safeguard, I arranged a big plastic tarp so our visitors could spend their night in dry conditions. Thank heavens - it rained almost the whole night.

The second day started with a 70 cm higher river level, giving us a "cruising speed" of 10 km per hour, free floating in an open territory. There were gorges for a change, unusual in that part of Ethiopia. Agriculture and bush composed a beautiful scenario, and we also encountered sporadic forest and few islands. With a higher river gradient, it was fun water to run, with train-waves, whirlpools and eddies . We named some fun waves GELGEL EXPRESS. With few false sound alarms, we were able to walk for a while, always escorted by a bunch of guys and girls, all with the strangely humorous Goggiam accent. Further downstream we decided to camp on the river's left bank near a grove of eucalyptus trees. As one might expect, the whole nearby village showed up, and it was difficult to keep them away from the raft and kayak. Same situation as the previous night, but no rain. After a morning stretch my ailing back felt much better.

The river dropped had almost a meter overnight, and the whole village was back in camp wanting to see us off. We loaded all the gear and headed downstream followed by two long lines of people on shore. The big crowd stayed with us for 10 km until we reached the village of Chimba where they stooped to shop at the local market.

We kept on downstream. and stopped for one more scouting session, which ended up being quite difficult, because we were on the right bank of the river and the rapid was turning on the left. This was a multi-channel rapid, and we had to prepare different plans in case of trouble. We ended up taking the left channel. The rapid was named SSHAB, which in Amharic means to pull. It was 'S'- shaped and quite challenging because of a big 'Hole' at the confluence of two channels. A few km further downstream we encountered the famous and frightening ZEGUEBER (door of Zegue) rapids. Zegue is the name of a peninsula on Lake Tana, on which the famous churches of St. Gabriel and St. Michael were built.

While we decided to make camp there, it was not in a very good spot, since we noticed later that it was on a main trail to several villages. We witnessed the local river crossing aboard the popular local papyrus boats (tamkwas). To my surprise tamkwa operators are working with round trip fares and do not mind if a passenger doesn't return the same day. The fare is valid for next day also.

Next morning we left camp with a lively crowd following us as usual, heading to the last stretch of river which leads to the GelGel village. This village is the most interesting stop on the whole route. This people live extremely close to the river side, and during rainy season their houses go literally under water a few feet. While many well intentioned organizations have tried to resettle them, they keep on coming back. At leaving GelGel we walked to the Lake Tana landing where the motor boat was waiting to take us on a 4 hour trip to Bahir Dar.

Wonz -Dar Expeditions
PO Box 19913, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel. (251) 1 757 604 fax (251) 1 751-377
River Rafting, Trekking, 4 WD Tours, FIT