Hamish McMaster has recently joined Adventure Sports Holidays as our resident rafting expert! He runs Water by Nature one of the leading specialist rafting operators in the world. We caught up with him on a plane flying out to Morocco!
So Hamish, tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Hamish McMaster (Mush) and I am 43-years-old. I am a husband, Dad, river guide, expedition leader, occasional office guy and self-confessed rafting-trip lover.
I grew up in the rugged adventure environment of New Zealand, and from an early age was exposed to many adventure sports, from yacht racing at sea, to ski patrolling in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
How did you get into whitewater rafting?
It was when I took a raft guide course in Queenstown that fell in love with the river, where it can take you and what it can teach you. Nature is wonderful at teaching you to respect it. And when you forget, it soon teaches you again!
After two decades teaching and more than 55,000 river miles, it is still teaching me, and I learn amazing things from the people that I meet on my travels.
I love where river trips take you. They help you leave behind the trappings of modern life, such as computers and mobile phones, and the stress of it all. It’s good people, respect, great food and shelter that are important and rafting also helps inject a little much-needed adrenaline. In some of the warmer destinations, you also get to sleep out under the stars… what can be better than a million-star hotel?
What makes rafting a great adventure sport?
Rafting is such a great adventure sport because it is open to everyone. The youngest person I have taken rafting is four-and-a-half years old and the most mature, in their 80s. I have taken blind folks, deaf people, and even paraplegics.
Showing and sharing these amazing trips gives all the guides an amazing sense of achievement. For me, rafting is not about always running crazy rapids; it can be about meeting amazing people.
As on Ethiopia’s Omo River, or the time we stopped in an eddy (calm water on the side of the river) and a Turkish farmer brought the whole raft and the safety kayaker cups of tea!
Where are the best rafting rapids in the world?
Some of the biggest and most challenging rapids I have run are on the Zambezi, such as ‘Ghostrider’, ‘Upper Moemba’ and ‘Open Season’; and on the Rio Futaleufu in Inferno Canyon and on the infamous ‘Terminator’ rapid.
As well as running these big rapids, it gives me, as a guide, just as big a sense of achievement running a family through ‘Wee Stinky’ on Morocco’s Ahansel River, or introducing a group of scouts to making pizzas on the riverside!
If I was planning a rafting trip where would you recommend?
If I had a week to go rafting anywhere in the world, I would have to choose the Zambezi or the Rio Futaleufu. However, other awesome trips include the Coruh in Turkey, or Morocco’s Ahansel River. For longer trips, it’s hard to ignore Peru and the Cotahuasi River, and one of my personal favorites, the Tamur River. A trip here combines an amazing four-day hike to the river, with a phenomenal trip down one of Nepal’s best waterways, and features stunning beaches and unrivalled whitewater.
So what do you do when you’re not rafting?
When I am not rafting, I spend time with my family. I tell them stories about rafting, play as much sport as I can, and transform into the office dude, but always still talking to people about my passion. I am also developing a piece of safety equipment with my brother to make rafting even safer. My advice: Get out there and do it… live all your dreams.
Hamish will be adding more rafting articles over the coming weeks. For more information on Hamish check out his ASH profile page and to if you are planning a rafting trip then check out his company Water by Nature.
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