Ash Fest Whitewater Festival: Kayaking, SUP and Rafting



Clarens, Free State


South Africa
Trip Participants


Taryn van Olden
Kayakers, Rafters and Stand Up Paddle enthusiasts take note! Ash Fest 2016 is taking place in Clarens from 29-31 July 2016.   Whitewater Training is once again hosting the annual Whitewater Kayaking Ash River Festival on the weekend of 29 to 31 July 2016 on the Ash River near Clarens in the Free State.   This event is attended by SA’s leading kayakers and has become The Winter Paddling Outing, and one of the most exciting and eagerly-anticipated events in this genre. It takes place on the Ash River which is considered South Africa’s cleanest constant-flowing river. It features exciting Grade 3 and 4 rapids that pose a challenge worthy of beginners and experts alike.   While the experts tend to dominate some of the events, it’s an opportunity for beginners and intermediate kayakers (and now SUPs and Rafters) to pit themselves against the pros, learning in the process.   In 2016 a new category for rafters creates an opportunity for ESSA to enter a team or two. If you would like to form part of an ESSA raft team, contact Taryn van Olden ( / 082 779-1314).   If you would like to enter one of the individual events, follow this link to complete an entry form and return it as per instructions to Whitewater Training: (click on AshFest 2016 Entry Form).   Entries are R300 per person and this entitles you to participate in the contest and festivities and receive a commemorative scarf, as well as join the Sunday social paddle. Those who want to join the Sunday social paddle and not compete on the previous day (and not receive a scarf), can do so at a fee of R100. You will still need to complete an entry and indemnity form. The Ash River is extremely spectator-friendly so it’s guaranteed to be a festive occasion whether you are competing or just there for support or to see how it’s done.    Accommodation and meals should be arranged individually, although most participants are likely to stay at the Clarens Inn and Backpackers.   For more information, contact Hugh du Preez at   Here is a taste of what to expect:
  • Downriver Race: Speed event down a 500m long rapid with a constant gradient, where competitors are required to catch eddies and run a certain route through the rapid, testing maneuvering skills against each other’s times.
  • Extreme Slalom: Technical challenge where overall kayaking skills are tested – pushing the average kayaker, without unnecessary risk, to achieve expertise. 
  • Social Paddle: Last group Jol on Sunday. This is one of the highlights of the festival for many paddlers as they get the chance to spend a day on the river with SA’s top whitewater kayakers making new friends and getting tips and tricks from the pros thus allowing them to improve their own paddling whilst having a great day on the water.




Friday, July 29, 2016 (All day) to Sunday, July 31, 2016 (All day)