The Valley of 1,000 Falls - Life and Near-Death on South Africa's Wildest River

In 1998 I moved to South Africa.  After taking a 5-day rafting trip through the Richtersveld on the Orange River in Namibia with my family, I decided to extend my stay by finding work as a rafting guide.  I joined up with River Tours and Safaris, spending the rainy season in a remote camp in Zululand. 

Some of the most challenging whitewater in southern Africa is found on the Tugela River, yet hardly anyone outside the region knows about it.  In the late nineties it was a wild place:  crocodiles, snakes, and scorpions lurked everywhere; the rapids were unpredictable; and the music in the bar at the riverside camp was terrible.  Yet the excitement was unrivaled.  Giant waves routinely swallowed rafts, clients rappelled down waterfalls, and lunch wasn’t served until you had jumped off a cliff.  The remote camp in Zululand where all this unfolded was my home for as season as I worked as a rafting and canyoneering guide on the Tugela.  This book tells the story of a newly arrived foreigner who survives crazy adventures in a dangerous place while undergoing a personal transformation from awkward outsider to respected community member.

I am drafting a manuscript for this book.  In 2017 I returned to the Tugela to take new photos and return to this magical valley with old friends who had shared many adventures with me.  For a glimpse of what surprises this long-awaited reunion brought, see my 2018 article in Hidden Compass magazine.

I am seeking representation for The Valley of 1,000 Falls to bring a unique story of growth and perilous exploits in an unknown corner of the world to a wider audience.  If you are a literary agent and would like to discuss this idea further, please contact me for a full proposal.

 Dropping into Four-Man Hole, November 2017. Photo: Gustav Greffrath

Dropping into Four-Man Hole, November 2017. Photo: Gustav Greffrath

 Zooming down the Manziwayo bumslide. Photo:  Gustav Greffrath

Zooming down the Manziwayo bumslide. Photo:  Gustav Greffrath

 Godfrey Tshumah takes the plunge.  Photo: Gustav Greffrath

Godfrey Tshumah takes the plunge.  Photo: Gustav Greffrath

 Map of the Tugela River by Joseph Bump

Map of the Tugela River by Joseph Bump

 Manziwayo Falls abseil (orange rope is visible to the right of the falls). Photo:  Jen Linker

Manziwayo Falls abseil (orange rope is visible to the right of the falls). Photo:  Jen Linker