As something we all need to do each day (yes even the Queen) broaching the subject of ‘the loo’ on a whitewater rafting trip needs to be handled with discretion. The reality is, as part of a rafting vacation, actually it is a wonderful place to go each day, do your thing with a view that you wont have experienced from the bathroom many times before.
We giving the ‘honor’ of setting up and breaking down the toilet, to our safety kayaker, who we feel, has the best job on the river – so there have to be some downsides, right? The loo is set up in a discreet location away from camp with a suitably scenic view over the river, but well away from camp. At the toilet, there will be a very comfy toilet seat. Yes, we can’t get away from the fact you are ‘poohing in a box’ but we sure do like making it as comfortable as we can. Far from the old days when ammunition boxes were taken on rafting holidays (affectionately known as ‘groovers’ for the mark they left behind on your bum). Alongside the larger toilet reserved for ‘number 2’s’ is a pee bucket which will be emptied into the flowing water in the river and diluted.
Each destination has it’s special locations for the loo. At ‘The Mill’ camp on Morocco’s Ahansel River the loo is set above the camp in a secluded rock alcove giving stunning views over the valley but hidden from camp. The Zambezi river offers expansive beaches with plenty of choice and Nepal offers again gorgeous beaches to set up a secluded site. Where this is not possible, we take a toilet tent to ensure your dignity is respected. And of course, the Grand Canyon, with it’s stunning locations at every campsite.
Set up at the toilet also includes a hand wash station operated by a foot pump to keep hands clean. Do, how do we not inadvertently walk in on someone doing their morning business you may ask? Set up a suitable distance from the bathroom will be a paddle stuck in the sand with a helmet sitting on top of it. This is the ‘vacant’ signal, where you may head off to the loo with your helmet on for your ‘call of nature’. Although we provide reading material at the loo, we would not recommend spending too long there, as a queue may have developed at the paddle in the sand (paddle alone meaning ‘engaged’). Problems occasionally arise when people leave the helmet at the loo after they have left!
Far from being the most dreaded part of camping, many people are pleasantly surprised by the level of comfort. And as always, our reasons for it are purely environmental. We take out all we take in to our precious river environment.
by Hamish McMaster
Hamish McMaster is the Water By Nature owner. He has spent the past 25 years exploring and playing on the world's great rivers. He still loves nothing more than getting out there and sharing adventures.
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