Messin on the Massupu – Days 2 – 4
We opted for an early start on day 2. Our plan was to head to the Massupu River. We estimated it would take 2 -3 days to run but we brought additional supplies in case water levels changed and we needed to sit it out on a river bank and wait for water levels to drop. It was our first time to paddle as a group with our boats fully loaded. Kayaks can behave quite differently when they are full of heavy kit. Edges can be a little trippier. It’s been a while since I’ve done any multi day kayaking but I found the extra weight helpful on some occasions and a hindrance on others. I seemed to have more forward momentum but I tripped on my edges a few times. Especially early on while I was getting used to it. After a while it felt perfectly normal. We had all purchased one person hammocks to sleep in. We reckoned that in a jungle full of bugs and all kinds of creepy crawlies that it might be advantageous to be a few feet off the ground. We were also carrying sleeping bags, dry clothes, footwear, medications and first aid, a stove, food, a water pump and filter and all kinds of other little bits and bobs.

We arrived at the put in and off we went. There was plenty of water and we found ourselves in a fairly continuous class 4 environment. Wooohooooo. Lots of fun. Lots of nerves too considering we were heading into a multi-day trip in the middle of the jungle with people who were more or less strangers. Plus the water felt pushy with a heavy boat. But we were flying. Again some great river reading by Beth and Beth interspersed with Beth H checking the maps on her phone so that she knew where on the river we were. She had spent months planning and researching this trip. She had been given some information from two British guys called Tim and Chris who had paddled in the region fairly recently. Thanks Tim and Chris J The rest she had figured out using Google Earth and other maps. She was doing a great job and I was enjoying thinking only about the kayaking.
Two of the girls took swims on this section (thanks to some nice holes). It just so happened that the last swim came fairly late in the day. I paddled down the river to help Beth with the boat (after first scouting a rapid which she had run). She had it all under control so I paddled a little further down to find a campsite for the night. As I pulled in on a beach, I noticed a little trail which I followed. This brought me up a slippy mucky track and then to a clearing where there was a small paddy field with a wooden shack raised on stilts on the far side. I noticed a man there so I waved. I didn’t want to be intrusive so I left fairly quickly and made my way back up the river to where Beth was sitting on a rock. The man upon seeing me, followed behind me to the rock. We introduced ourselves and then we used hand signals to explain to him that we were a group of 5 kayaking down the river. He signalled for us to come to his house. When the others arrived that’s exactly what we did.
It was very dark on the inside except for some candle light and the light from our torches. It was such a simple dwelling of 3 small rooms and very little furniture. We were welcomed inside and introduced to the cat. There was a fire in the kitchen where we were able to cook our rice. As we huddled in the kitchen, tired from the day, our host produced a fish and pointed to his bowl of rice. The man had very little. Next to nothing. Yet he was more than happy to share the little he had with strangers. It was getting close to Christmas and although I’m not religious, it seemed to me that the man was the personification of the true Christmas spirit of charity and kindness.

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cooking on the fire inside the house

The five of us slept side by side under a mosquito net on the floor of the biggest room. There was just enough space for all of us and we drifted off to sleep dreaming of adventures to come, sheltered from the very heavy rain by his simple roof.
The next morning, the river was a good bit higher than it had been the day before. We knew that there was a fairly serious syphon further down river which needed to be portaged. Thanks to Tim and Chris we also knew that this might not be possible at very high water levels. We waited a few hours while the river dropped a bit. We spent the morning chatting to our host even though we didn’t speak his language and he didn’t speak ours. Then it was time to go.

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me and our host 🙂


The river kept going with lots of fun rapids. When we got the syphon we pulled into an eddy and got out to have a look. We were in luck. There was just enough space to get around it. Unfortunately as we were lowering a boat over a boulder it got swept into a smaller syphon (while still attached to the rope) and it took us almost an hour to get it out. It was all good though and we carried on. Later that evening we found a nice beach to camp on. This would be our first time to try sleeping in the hammocks. We were very proud of our little campsite of hammock cocoons. We got a nice camp fire going and while I was still dreaming of the true spirit of Christmas, I realised that I had left my dry trousers in the man’s house. Unless I wanted to wear wet thermals all evening, I was going to have to go trouserless at the campfire. Let’s just say that made for an interesting evening especially considering that I had earlier decided that underpants were an unnecessary weight burden and luxury I could do without in the jungle.

Anyway, the next day started with some high water through a gorge which made some really fun waves and boils. Then the Massupu River joined the Sa’daan and it mellowed into flat sections broken by lovely wave train rapids. We reached the take out some time in the early afternoon and loaded up the truck for the journey back to Rantapao. Smiles all round.