What do …
… kayak instructors from the Rhine Gorge actually get up to in winter?
The paddlers in the Rhine Gorge, Switzerland’s own Grand Canyon, have their work cut out in the season between May and the start of October. Kayak courses are just one of the many activities on offer – Canadian canoe, Fun Yak and rafting tours are also part of the range offered. „We have ten full-time employees in season who go that extra mile“, explains Thomas Rogenmoser, a part owner of the Kanuschule Versam (kayak school).„There are also another twenty or so people on call at peak times in July and August, particularly at the weekend.“
The Anterior Rhine is popular with amateur sports fans and passionate white-water addicts and kayak instructor is an adventurous (dream) job for many visitors. That is also how Thomas Rogenmoser sees it: „We have made our hobby into our profession. It doesn’t matter if it sounds corny.“ This qualified electronic engineer and the two other part owners are the only people who work at Kanuschule Versam all the year round. Seasonal workers pass the cold times of year in a variety of ways. Lots of paddlers pursue their normal careers in winter, which range from scientist through head chef to preacher. There are others as well. Those who fl y to South America for the winter and devote themselves to their favourite free-time activity: kayaking.
From Versam to Venezuela
„Paddling is my job in Graubünden. Once the season is over it takes me to South America. There it is my hobby“, explains the Dutchman Kees van Kuipers. It doesn’t matter whether it is Colombia, Ecuador, Chile or Venezuela, the passionate kayaker travels all over the continent on that side of the Atlantic. „I travel around South America kayaking for around four months. Here I meet friends from all over the world.“ Kuipers’ sense of anticipation is palpable. The most important thing for him is variety. Paddling, having a picnic, paddling, lying on the beach, surfi ng, paddling, barbecuing, paddling and camping. Adventure calls. There are always new rivers to discover. On one occasion the kayakers had to battle through the Colombian jungle for three days because they had followed the wrong branch of the river. „That is an exception. Good preparation is absolutely essential. We talk to fi shermen to fi nd out more about the fl ow of the river and the farmers explain to us where we can find drinking water. That is considerably more complicated than it is on the Anterior Rhine. There are no railway lines running all the way along the river in South America“, the Dutchman jokes. „Mind you we travel by public transport there if it is possible. If necessary we take a taxi. Sometimes the bus doesn’t stop. That doesn’t matter because there is always plenty of time in South America“, he explains. He is quite happy to wait for hours for the next opportunity to travel. This means he has time to chat to other kayak fanatics. And what does Kees van Kuipers get up to after his sojourn in South America? „Holidays. Preferably on the beach.“