Following McGregor's Route
Photo Courtesy of Dor Kayak Club
Check out more great pic's from Dor Kayak Club's Rob Roy Expedition!
After reading John McGregor's 150-year old tale of one man in a
canoe, The Rob Roy on the Jordan, our kayak club, Dor kayak,
decided to follow his route. McGregor's goal was to discover the
sources of the Jordan River. In his canoe, named Rob Roy, he
paddled waters now in Lebanon, Syria and Israel. In the book he
describes lakes surrounded by papyrus, bridges over the
river controlled by Turkish soldiers, Arab hunters and fishermen,
some hostile some friendly, locations of biblical sites and
We chose to paddle a route as close to the original as possible,
taking into account political and nature changes over the last 150
years. We could not do the Lebanese and Syrian parts as the Hule, a
large swamp lake north of the Sea of Galilee, has been dried up in
order to gain farmland. The river has been channeled east of the
former lake; bridges have been destroyed while some others have
been built. Still, we followed the route for two wonderful days,
paddling in placid and rough water (class I-IV).
Our team and what we paddled:
Liran - Wavesport Z
Adi - Dagger RPM
Shachar - Wavesport X
Guy - Wavesport ACE
Shlomi -Pyranha Innazone
Gosta - Wavesport EZ
Tomas - Wavesport X
Starting out, we drove two and a half hours to the northern
border between Israel and Lebanon, right by the upper sources of
the Jordan River, today called Hatzbani, and by John McGregor,
Hasbaya. The river gets its water from Hermon Mountain and the
hills in south Lebanon. Other sources of the Jordan are the Dan,
Banias and Yarmock rivers. After a short briefing we hit the water.
This part of the Jordan River is beautiful, surrounded by maple
trees, birds and turtles. The river runs quite fast in the
beginning, then calms down to finish with a nice drop. We took
lunch at the drop while getting ready to paddle into the lower part
of the river.
Not long after we were stopped by a huge "manmade" drop, with
big stones, logs and debris that made us decide to portage and not
to take chances on a run. In return we got a nice friendly rapid
further down stream. Adi flipped over but a quick roll saved him
By evening we decided to make our camp by the water. We made
fish, pasta and salad and sat drinking wine by the fire. We all
went to sleep early and woke early, ready for day two.
The day included both placid and rough water. Rob Roy ran Hule
Lake, but since it's dried up, the river is funneled through a
straight channel 18 kilometers long with slow running water. So we
paddled on and suddenly met a thick metal pipe crossing the water
with 20 centimeters of open space between the water and the pipe.
Liran showed us how to cross upside down, rolling. Tomas tried and
got stuck, but eventually made it through. The others were smarter
and climbed over the pipe.
We spent an hour saving a stork that was stuck in the mud and
totally wet. We practiced paddling techniques over the next two
hours, getting ready for the rougher parts of the river. We also
met up with Gosta, who joined us through to the end.
We reached Ateret, an ancient water mill, where the real
whitewater of the river starts. Rob Roy portaged this part,
carrying the boat by horse and wagon. There are four rapids on the
Jordan: the turbine, Kfar Hanasi, Dodot and Arik bridge. The first
and last are easier. The river has lots of rocks and bends and
requires total commitment in order to finish runs safely and with
your gear. The last part has fast water with waves, but then it
calms down, becoming a delta among the reeds. Choosing the right
line was tricky. The whole group finally made it to the end, at the
shores of Lake Kineret (Sea of Galilee), tired but content.
Total distance paddled: 40 kilometers; 12km in rough , 10
in medium and 18 in slow moving water.
Elevation: From 200 meters above sea level to 200 meters
below sea level.
Total paddling hours: 5 hours on Day 1 and 8 hours on Day 2.
Equipment on boats: helmets, throw-lines, spare paddle,
water bottles, fruits and energy bars.
Equipment in cars: tents, sleeping bags, cooking stuff,
food and the The Rob Roy on the Jordan, by John McGregor,
published by The Long Riders Guild Press in UK.
Learn more about Dor Kayak