Alpacka vs Flytepacker

It’s Friday, the end of the working day and time for a mini-holiday. We head south with our camper Kangoo. This weekend will be dominated by packrafting. In order not to have to wake-up too early at Saturday, we go south on Friday. We’re welcomed by a roe on our way to the campsite. A few kilometers further, we arrive at camping Les Ochay in the last light of the day. It’s a campsite in Wallonie, managed by Dutchmen.

The next morning we drive to Bertrix. Unexpectedly a motor cross contest is starting while we arrive, the big parkinglot at the railway station is filled with dirt bikes. We find the last free parking spot next to the railway station. Finding the rest of the packrafters is much easier: they’re the only ones not wearing helmets.
We leave Bertrix by train and head to Florenville. From Florenville it’s only a short stroll to the Semois. The group counts 19 packrafts. We’ve met each other via Hiking Advisor. The meadow turns to springtime, when all brightly coloured packrafts are being inflated.

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Inflating the packrafts at Florenville.

At Roche Brûlée we take a break. We’re glad to pause as we have to paddle firmly to keep up with the group. We own FlytePacker packrafts, that are meant to paddle to the middle of a lake and start fishing. The rest of the group has Alpackas that are better fit for boating. Probably it’s a combination of factors that make the Alpackas go faster: The FlytePackers have a rough skin, the Alpackas a smooth one. The Alpackas are solid when inflated, the FlytePackers remain flexible. The Alpackas are slim, while the FlightPackers are wider. And above all: the loose floor of the FlytePacker makes one sink further in the water when seated. The bump that arises underneath the boat, increases the drag enormously. The fun isn’t less however, we’re having a great time on the water.
During the pause we eat something and walk to the viewpoint Bohanan.

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Viewpoint Bohanan.

After the break we paddle a few hours to camping de la Semois. We’re welcomed by Pandora, the camping’s dog. We change packrafts to find out what the differences are. Then we put up our tarp and go for dinner. What a nice view, a lawn full of tarps and packrafts. In the evening the cantine is opened and we get a lesson in Belgian abbey beers. This campsite is also managed by Dutchmen. According to our Flemish friends it’s quiet common for campsites in Belgium to be managed by Dutchmen.

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Chased by the camping’s dog.

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Camping de la Semois.

At Sunday we decide to boat at our own pace and leave the water a bit sooner then the group. We would delay the group too much. At the first weir (Vanne des Moines) we have to lift the packrafts out of the water, walk till after the weir and then board again.
At Anc. Prieuré de Conques we meet the group again. Together we sail a few minutes until we reach the watermill of Herbeumont. We leave the water here and wave goodbye to the group.

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The watermill of Herbeumont.

We eat something and pack our packrafts. With the backback we walk north over old and abandoned railroads. After a tunnel we arrive at La Maljoyeuse, where we spot another roe. We go back to Bertrix over forest roads.
We thought it was a successful weekend. Beautiful route and very companionable. Thanks to all!

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Old railway tunnel west of Chapelle Ste-Barbe.

The flow of the Semois (at Chiny) was 12 m3/s at Saturday and decreased to 10 m3/s at Sunday. If you feel like packrafting yourself one time: Off-Trail: packraft rentals & guiding.

Click here to see all photographs.

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