First Descents

Paul Marais
Johannesburg Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 19:00


Paul Marais was a founder member of both the Wits explorers and ESSA, and has been prolific in organising over 150 trips and expeditions.  He led the first source-to-sea expedition of the Umzimvubu, and Tugela rivers and descents on the  Rovuma, ITsitsa, Tina, Kunene, Tugela and Zambezi river.  He did a six week expedition partly circumnavigating Lake Victoria, as well as a skiing trip to Finse .

The Umzimvubu river has its source in the Drakensberg and in its journey to Port St Johns travels through a deep remote  gorge.  The group began their trip with a 50km barefoot hike, before rafting to the sea, to reach it 28 days later to find a much changed South Africa.    The ITsitsa and Tina rivers are tributaries of the Umzimvubu


The Rovuma river forms the border of Mocambique and Tanzania and reaching it to put in was in itself a challenge.  Vehicle problems, lack of tracks, and aggressive ants were unable to deter us, before putting in on this most beautiful river.  A 6m crocodile missed having Paul for its breakfast, but did considerable damage, and Lions and Elephants were also encountered in this unknown wilderness.  The expedition rafted the steepest section of the river. 

The Shire River  connects Lake Malawi to the Zambezi and the expedition attempted to raft the section of rapids that had stopped David Livingstone.

The Kunene River is the Namibian Angolan Border, and travels through the Desert and the unusual Zebra Mountains.  After negotiating the Epupa Falls the river enters a remote, and very hot gorge, which in high water boasts enormous rapids. 

Paul will share his personal journey through these expeditions,  Please join us for the evening for his insight and experiences. 




Cricket Pavilion, Johannesburg Country Club


Free for members, guests R30