Treverton College celebrates its 60th year with an adventure

Treverton College celebrates its 60th year with an adventure
Treverton College celebrates its 60th year with an adventure

The Thukela River, meaning ‘that which startles’ is the second largest river in South Africa. Treverton College, celebrating its 60th year in 2024, adequately chose a great adventure to mark this significant year. The Thukela Source-to-Sea expedition aims to paddle the length of the Thukela River, 550 km of rapids and white water. A team from Treverton College comprising of 7 learners, 3 staff and 3 experienced river guides, have undertaken this incredibly adventurous feat. Breaking the expedition into two phases, so as not to take too any precious academic time off, the learners completed phase one before the start of the 2024 school year and will undertake the second phase in the Easter holidays.

The first phase of the Thukela source to sea has taken place successfully. Departing on the 7th of January to Witsieshoek in the Central Drakensberg. The team then hiked up to Mont-aux-Sources via the chain ladders to the source of the Thukela River. It is on the flanks of this mountain at around 3200m that a spring emerges that gives birth to the stream of the Thukela. We followed this stream down to the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment known as the Amphitheatre. Here, having grown surprisingly quickly and benefitting from good recent rains, it plunges down to the Royal Natal Park valley in a number of huge leaps. Cumulatively, this is said to be the highest waterfall in the world. Whatever the facts may be, this is a magnificent sight. An overall 32km hike on Day one was followed by the start of paddling on Day 2 through to Day 9.

An impressive section was on Day 7 on The Harts Hill Falls, it which is a 12m high waterfall that stretches right across a wide 250m section of the Thukela, broken only by an island towards the center. It also has the thunderous ‘Little Augrabies’ whose presence is announced not only by sound but by the mist driven into the air by the Thukela being channeled through a massive rocky chasm. It is said to be un-runnable, and obviously, these river features were portaged. Day 8, saw the team paddling/swimming through the Thukela Canyon, which is infamous for rapids such as the “Rocky Horror”, which scattered our entire team in separate directions and cost many a shoe to the river, a fair payment for the experience.

Phase one was completed on Day 9, which comprised of paddling a seemingly short 12 km to the where there was 2×4 vehicle access. 260 km of paddling a swollen river, in 9 days, an incredible feat by all participated. All of whom will confirm that there were many hours spent through 2023 converting useless K1 or K2 paddlers (staff included) into paddlers of some use in flat water and where there are minor rapids. Add to this boat management and exposure to other kinds of boats like crocs and plastic kayaks.

We are proud at how positively each learner approached this expedition. Some had to deal with very real fear, while other dealt more with their fatigue. All-in-all, this is a great learning experience, and it is what we value at Treverton.

A shout out for the guidance we had from Gustav Greffrath of Itchyfeet, and his right-hand man Kenny Outram. We are also thankful for Cameron Stork’s assistance in the challenging Thukela Canyon section at medium-high level. We eagerly await the start of Phase Two which sets off on the 22nd March from the same point where Phase One concluded. The Source-to-Sea will be completed when the team arrive on the sandy beach of The Tugela Mouth on the 30th of March 2024.

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