Raft Launch

• February 15, 2012

8-man rafts in Swaziland We honoured a thousand year old naval tradition recently in Swaziland when we launched our new fleet of 8-man rafts on the Great Usutu River.  This was an extremely sacred and rare ceremony, seldom ever witnessed in Swaziland.  Being a totally landlocked country, we are not renowned as a seafaring nation.

However, with as much pomp and ceremony as could be mustered on this auspicious occasion, we opened a brand new chapter in the Kingdom’s water-based travel history when the bottle swung against the bow and the first of our new 8-man rafts slide down the launch ramp and parted the river waters.

OK – admittedly the launch ramp was only a muddy river bank and the traditional champagne bottle was substituted by a bottle of of still water, but we have to work with what we’ve got, you know! Certainly breaking a glass bottle in the very water that we step into every day with our bare toes wouldn’t have been smart. And given the superstitions that that gave rise to this ancient custom, the fact that our still water wasn’t just any old still water, but a bottle of the finest Bulembu Water must have carried some weight. Bottled by Bulembu Ministries as an income-generating project to support their mission to provide orphans with a better start to life, Bulembu Water is our regular brand of choice for all the right feel-good reasons. It was even suggested by one of the witnesses to this ceremony, that their water could be considered somewhat “holy”, given its impeccable credentials and source. But raft guides have their own superstitions and the word “holy” (no matter how you spell it) should never be used in the same context as an inflatable raft, so that suggestion was cautiously rejected.

So… splash – the rafts hit the water amidst as much solemnity as can be mustered from a group of people pysch’ed to the eyeballs with the prospect of white-water action and off we went.

It was only a few minutes later that we realised that we hadn’t named the blessed boats – HMS What and what… were they going to be? Fortunately a bit of Swazi tradition and culture came to our rescue.

“Places or people are not named straight-away in Swaziland,” pointed out raft guide Bongani Dlamini,” we need to observe their characteristics and personality first. We need a defining event to guide us in the naming.” So with reverence to our local tradition of never rushing anything in Swaziland… we proceeded downstream.

Maybe you the reader will be on a rafting trip in the not-to-distant future that gives rise to a naming event… an adventure awaits! Join us!

For some more background to the rationale of why we’ve added these bigger rafts to our existing fleet of 2-man rafts – see our earlier news posting – new rafts.




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  1. admin says:

    And for the wise-crackers: “HMS Swazi Economy” is not an option we are considering!