This was the 5th annual EU Packrafting Meet-up and the largest event so far! With over 120 passionate packrafters from all over the world it truly was an international event and everyone was happy to be at the beautiful Soca river from June 13-19, 2022. Holding the Roundup in June also meant sunny and warm weather, but on the other hand lower flows than on previous events.
Photo @Jan Zdansky
Most sections of Soca and Koritnica could still be run, especially during the first days and for less experienced or intermediate paddlers, less water actually meant they could packraft sections of the river that otherwise would have been above their paygrade :-)
Photo @Katja Seidel
The first packrafters arrived at the Camp Liza campground already on the weekend before the meetup, and day by day more and more people arrived. Both the Beginner Course from Packrafts Explorers and our Whitewater Rescue Course on Monday & Tuesday were fully booked.
Tom & Laura from the Packrafts Explorers in action!
While the first few days were just a relaxed come together, on Wednesday, the official part of the Meet-up started with a Welcome Briefing and the first workshops, mainly aimed at Beginners. Many experienced paddlers volunteered to share their knowledge and this greatly helped the people relatively new to packrafting to be able to paddle with groups on the following days. They practiced wet re-entry, whitewater swimming, throwbaging, ferry glides and eddy catching.
But also advanced packrafters had new things to learn and train - paddle technique, river reading & trip planing, bikerafting, cargofly maintenance, packraft repairs, hydrology - these were some of the workshops held during the following days!
Paddling technique workshop with Seon, Packraft Europe.
Cargofly Maintenance Workshop with Garreth from Alpacka Raft USA. Photo @Jan Zdansky
Small groups organized to run different sections on Soca and Koritnica river every day. Many people also decided to test different packrafts - boats from Alpacka Raft and Current Raft were available for demo.
Following 3 photos @Jan Zdansky
Tim & Lisa from Current Raft enjoying some time on the river after running workshops in the morning.
But the event is not only about packrafting - there are many great hikes in the area and one group also decided to go canyoning one afternoon with canyoning Guide and Packrafter Fabian from fabcanyon.
Most packrafters are very multi sporty people after all :-)
Saturday was certainly a highlight for a few of the most experienced people at the event, who went paddling the cataracts - classified as class lV-Vl. Only Seon from Packraft Europe had paddled it before and the low water levels allowed to paddle it again and take a few other paddlers with him.
The main risk on this stretch are syphons and the the 3km section is full of them, so it is critcal to stay on line (!!!). On the same day a group of kayakers paddled the cataract, as a memorial ceremony for a kayaker who had passed away in that section the previous year.
Photos @Katja Seidel
If you are keen to see more of this very advanced paddling session, check out the video of Packraft Explorers! Prep some beers as it is an hour long ;-)
Sunday was departure day and those who were not in a hurry went for a last paddle. The Packraft Europe family went for an easy float with the kids from the campground to Cezsoca, accompanied by some other paddlers who were happy to enjoy relaxed time on the river, soaking up one last time the outstanding beauty of this river and valley!
Last but not least, River Conservation is an important part of the Meet-up every year and we want to say a big thank you for the funds raised both through registration and also with the sales at the garage sale (Packraft Europe donated 30% of anything sold that morning to river conservation).
With this being the 5th European Packrafting Meet-up, together the packrafting community has raised over 12,000€ for river conservation in total! And maybe not by accident, just during this weekend it was announced that dam endangered Vjosa River finally got green light for a river national park!!! You can find more info and how to join the action here!
We are so excited about this news and thanks again to all participants of this and previous meet-ups to contribute to river protection!
See you again next year, the dates are June 5-11, 2023 with courses taking place on June 3+4. Workshops will focus on the first few days (June 5, 6, 7) next year, so make sure to join the full week :-) Current information can always be found here.
Photo @Katja Seidel
Happy paddling & stay safe!
Michaela & Seon Crockford-Laserer
Founders of Packraft Europe