Water Travel, Like a Local

I’ve just returned from a great trip, packrafting down about 250km of remote rivers in Nicaragua.

Packrafting is relatively new to me, but so far I love it. Because the raft is so compact, I could carry it in my backpack together with food and gear for 10 days out.

Packrafting Rio Bocay in Nicaragua
Packrafting Rio Bocay in Nicaragua

The rafting trip had fun, adventure, challenge, white-water, wild-camping and a chance to see how the local indigenous Mayangna and Miskito people live.

I have only one other water trip I can compare it with, and that is paddling down the Niger River in West Africa. For that trip, we had a local fisherman build us a pirogue, just like those the locals use. If I had had a packraft with me, I probably would have used that. But I’m glad I didn’t.

Paddling a pirogue was physically much more challenging and we encountered difficulties navigating downstream which wouldn’t have been a problem in a packraft.

But the pirogue let us experience the river as the locals do. And it brought us closer to those we met.

Paddling a Pirogue on the Niger River
Paddling a Pirogue on the Niger River

In Nicaragua, I felt we were viewed as a passing novelty; rich tourists with hi-tech products. On the Niger river, we were just two more people heading downstream.

Both ways of river travel were great. And I’m pretty sure i’ll be doing more trips in both styles…

Since i’ll be back in the UK for the rest of the year, the packraft will be seeing plenty of action in the coming months. Pirogues aren’t so common on British waterways…. Narrowboat barges though, now there’s an idea!

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