Canoes and kayaks. Rowing, rafting and cannoning by sea, rivers, dams and rapids.

Season 2. Chapter 2

In the previous blog post, we introduced you to our instructors – the divers. This time we present you the crazy heads with the canoes and kayaks. We introduce you:

Velislav Maldzhiev

Velislav Maldjiev is a dancer, a bus mechanic, a truck driver, a coach in "Tourism-mountaineering" from NSA, a licensed mountain guide and master of economics from the Faculty of Economics. See what he told us about himself and his love of water sports.

My first contact with water sports was through my father, who was an avid fisherman and we always had all sorts of rowing boats. Then in the 3rd grade I enrolled to train kayaking in Pancharevo, where I spent several seasons. In the technical school in the 9th grade I met young people my age and with similar minds, with whom we secretly started climbing rocks, entering caves and hiking in the mountains. At one point, the wildest of my friends told me that there was a prefabricated two-seater kayak and suggested that we go and row on the Danube river. It was a turning point in my relationship with my parents, who tried in every way to distract me from what they thought were “dangerous sports”, and it was one of the safest things I’ve ever done. Everything that happened after that was an example of what NOT to do. I define this period of my life as "when we were immortal." Then I started rafting along Struma river, kayaking in fast waters, kayaking on the islands of Greece and I decided to expand my business, adding water sports to my portfolio.

Gift Come True - Velislav Maldzhiev

Interesting events involving us and our way of living happen every day. In Lefkada, during some strong wind and big waves, because I had overloaded the kayak with luggage, I sank like the Titanic. The good thing is that we trained a rescue operation in natural conditions! Soon I was rescuing clients on the Iskar River and they dropped back in river 5 times, so I did five rescue operations.

Clients are surprised when we tell them that with us, the client is NEVER right and this mantra that “he is always right” does not apply. We do sports in which the instructor's requirements have to be met without much discussion. At our discretion, we made people wait for us on the shore after we thought they were dangerous to others and themselves. We witnessed a scandal between a girl and a boy in the boat, and we kept them from falling in the river, we barely got them ashore!

Gift Come True - Velislav Maldzhiev

Kayaking is the water’s alternative to hiking. You row, enjoy the views, stop on the beach to rest and eat, make friends, encounter the noise of the engines of motorboats, jets, angry fishermen and garbage. To make the trip interesting, you need to read a lot about the places and their history. It is also a very good physical activity for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The level of socialization that our sport gives you is of great benefit to our development as people. I am used to making quick, adequate and correct decisions while under stress. I became quite balanced, and I was irritable and hot-tempered before that. I realized that there are much more interesting things than watching TV - reading books, talking to loved ones against the background of quiet music, light walks, debating various topics.

Watching some of the comments below our videos, I feel sorry for the children of the commenters. I can give one piece of advice to all parents - encourage your children to participate in sports and if they decide to practice extreme sports, do not stop them. Do not impose your fears on them. One time, a friend of mine called me worried because her son had bought a motorcycle. I told her to buy him a helmet, protectors, and anything that could protect him, as well as ask him to ride with her sometimes, but by no means stop him. He bought a motorcycle, fell a few months later, broke his leg, sold the motorcycle and the saga ended. Do not forbid anything to your children, because the forbidden fruit is the most delicious. To comments like, "I will never let my child do such a thing," I always say just because you may not know it does not mean they are not doing it anyway. It is much better to feel drug addiction from extreme sports than from real drugs, including cigarettes and alcohol.


Borislav Paunovski

Borislav Paunovski or simply Bochi is a rafting, kayaking and cannoning guide. He has been involved in river sports for over 10 years, runs courses for rafting guides and kayaks in fast waters in Bulgaria. See what Bochi told us about his love for rafting.

My father is one of the first rafting guides on the Struma River. He has been taking me to the river with him since he was 13 years old. Now this sport has become a way of life, and the Struma River has become my second home. Over the years, you learn every stone in the river.

Gift Come True - Borislav Paunovski

 One of the greatest experiences I have had was on the Zambezi River in Africa - the most popular rafting river in the world. Between the rapids, the crocodiles on the shores do not attack you, they only watch you. There, everyone wears amulets with the local river God – Nyami Nyami. He is a water dragon with the body of a snake and the head of a fish. The most powerful God who controls the river. While building the famous Kariba Dam, the river carried the dam wall, bridges, heavy machinery and many people for two years in a row. The locals believe that the river God is angry and takes revenge. Subsequently, the dam was completed and the local population was evicted from the lands they had cultivated for centuries. It is believed that the dam has separated Nyami from his partner and one day they will break the wall again to reunite and the locals will be able to return to their native places.

My most interesting incident during the tourist descent was with a blind boy. He had been rafting 3-4 times already and wanted more action. Throughout the descent, I deliberately chased the big waves and climbed the round stones. I drove to the edge to turn. On the last big rapid everyone fell off and the boat turned. I still remember holding the boat, holding the boy and telling him to keep his legs high. He told me that he had not had a more extreme descent and was really happy. Now we have another blind boy in our team who came to practice rafting and got very excited.

Gift Come True - Borislav Paunovski

While I practice this sport, I meet many interesting people with strange professions and hobbies and I am very pleased to learn new things. Rafting gave me a sports culture, respect for nature and the creatures that live in the river. One of the most important goals for the future of our children is to preserve these corners of wildlife. Bulgaria needs a combative civil society and very strict control by the institutions against illegal dumping of garbage in rivers, their drying up, illegal construction, felling of coastal bushes and trees, which leads to erosion and change of the watercourse. Each of us can be acquainted with the problems and help by joining the initiative of Balkanka Fishing Club.


More about extreme water and non-water adventures can be found here.

Expect our third part, dedicated to yacht trips.

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