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The Western Baray, Angkor, Cambodia

What’s this page about Digger?

This page provides a gazetteer of the “best” wild swims that I have enjoyed outsdie England. Its ordered by “sort of” geographical areas that I list below. I’ve provided basic information on Location, Grid Refs, Features, Hazards (as if..), Date of Last Swim and on occasion a photograph!

I’m swimming wih sharks

I’m swimming with octopi

I’ve got a little love in my eye, in my eye

And I’m swimming with koala beers

I’m swimming with Kangaroos

I’ve got a little love for you

(“Swimming” written by David Tattersall, performed by The Wave Pictures)


Best In Bulgaria

Ditchin

(A THREE TRUNK location because although it looks good, swimming is bit restrictive and there are quite a few flies about.)

Location

Adjacent to where the River Rositsa passes the archaeological site known as Gradishte (near the modern village of Ditchin), nearest big town is Veliko Turnova.

Grid Ref

No OS coverage.

Features

Slow and fast flowing water, shade and friendly locals.

Hazards

Flies rumoured to be mosquitos.

Date of Last Swim

Sadly August 2001


Nicopolis

(A FIVE TRUNK location, worth going to Bulgaria just for this.)
!!! PHOTO AVAILABLE ON REQUEST !!!

Location

Adjacent to where the River Rositsa passes the Roman City known as Nicopolis AD Istrum (near the modern village of Nikiup), nearest big town is Veliko Turnova.

Grid Ref

No OS coverage.

Features

Slow and fast flowing water, good jump-in spots and excellant sun-bathing grass on bank..

Hazards

No shade, gets a bit dirty if there has been a storm (just soil- I think), locals bring their horses and clothes to wash here.

Date of Last Swim

Sadly August 2001


Best In Cambodia

Western Baray

(A FIVE TRUNK location even better for being hand dug 1000yrs ago)

Mr Long and Digger in the Western Baray

Location

The beach the locals use is at the western end not far from Road 6 (which ultimately goes to Bangkok). We got a moto rickshaw to take us there and the driver, Mr Long, joined me in the water (despite not being able to swim!!!!)

Grid Ref

No OS coverage.

Features

Small sandy beach with gentle access into the large lake. If that wasn’t enough there are cafes, beach huts and you can hire inner tubes. It may look just like any old lake until I tell you it was constructed 1000 years ago by hand to provide water for the intensive cultivation around Angkor and it is an incredible 8km by 2.2km in size.

Hazards

Occasional boats and a little bit of pollution but nothing to write home about.

Date of Last Swim

Sadly March 2003


Best In Cuba

Salto Del Caburni

(A FIVE TRUNK location despite the long and hot walk to get there)

Location

The pool under the Salto del Caburni (near Trinidad) and requires a 2.5km walk from Topes de Collantes

Grid Ref

No OS and definately no USA coverage.

Features

Large pool with strong currents near the actual fall, easy access and wasn’t very busy.

Hazards

No sun-bathing area, but the only real hazard is the 2.5km walk back through the jungle.

Date of Last Swim

January 2002


La Batata

(A FIVE TRUNK location partly based on its unusual and hidden location)
!!! PHOTO AVAILABLE ON REQUEST !!!

Location

The Lonely Planet says La Batata, a large cave containing an underground river, begins at a parking sign just up the hill from Parque La Represa. When you reach another highway, go around the right side of the concrete embankment in front of you and down the hill. Always keep straight or right after this point (avoid trails to the left). Allow an hour each way. Its possible to swim in pools in the cave.
They forgot to mention that you should turn right at the first river you come to or you will walk for hours through uninhabited jungle in the 35 degree heat.

Grid Ref

No OS and definately no USA coverage.

Features

Fabulous hidden cave setting

Hazards

Bat poo!!!!

Date of Last Swim

January 2002


Best In Czech Republic

Telc

(A FOUR TRUNK location)

Location

Fishpond Ulicky is located to the west of a lovely town called Telc in the Czech Republic.

Grid Ref

I’m sure I can find one now that they are in the EU

Features

Surprisingly shallow (and no evidence of fish)

Hazards

Fortunately I had just got out by the time the police man cycled past.

Date of Last Swim

October 2003


Best In France

Pyrennes

(A FOUR TRUNK location with a minus 10 due to coldness)

Location

Hmm location….. Now you have to remember I was there during the France 98 World Cup and I believe we visited this waterfall around the time of the Argentina game. I think its in the Oueil Valley possibly near Bagneres de Luchon.

Grid Ref

No idea

Features

Refreshing swim with excellent views

Hazards

Refreshing = f***king freezing

Date of Last Swim

June 1998


Best In Gambia

Bansang

(A definate FIVE TRUNK location)

Location

Probably at Bansang (30km east of Georgetown) in an area known as the interior which for a country only 40km wide is a bit of an exaggeration. Just follow the local boys who look wet.

Grid Ref

Now thats a question.

Features

The local boys swim here so it must be a delightfull spot to swim (see below)

Hazards

Try not to worry too much about the very strong current, vultures sat on a tree nearby and the knowledge that hippos & crocodiles live upstream (don’t always trust the locals!).

Date of Last Swim

January 1998


Best In Germany

Maschsee, Hannover

Location

The Maschsee is located a mere 500m from the city centre. The official swim spot is at the south end of the lake.

Grid Ref

Hmmm.

Features

As if practically being in the centre of the city isn’t enough some kind sole has put down loads of sand to make a beach. Although they have also build changing rooms, showers, bars and a fence so they can charge you!

Hazards

The bottom of the lake had a very slimey feel to it. Hopefully its not related to the duck poo which abounds on the adjacent grass.

Date of Last Swim

23rd June 2006


Best In Guatemala

Los Vahos

(Hot water = FIVE TRUNK swim)

Location

Los Vahos (The Vapors) is 3km from Parque Centroamerica near Almolonga.

Grid Ref

Now thats a question.

Features

Sauna/steam bath and poolside bar.

Hazards

Locals in Y-fronts (oh and its bloody hot).

Date of Last Swim

March 1999


Best In Holland

River Waal, Nijmegen

(The setting is a FIVE TRUNK, but watch out for the current, and the big ships!!)

Location

Theres sort of a country park type area adjacent to the river to the north of the town. Rather surprisingly you will discover that this means going down a hill (yes thats a hill in Holland!!).

Grid Ref

Hmm

Features

Sandy beach, lots of horse for company and quite (ok very) strong current in the middle of the river. Oh and an interesting bridge crossing the river. It, or probably its predecessor, was one of those captured during Operation Market Garden during WW2. However, this one was not the bridge too far.

Hazards

Lots of excited horses (maybe they don’t see river swimming very often), big boats/ships and a crazed Dutchman added to the excitement.

Date of Last Swim

25th June 2006


Best In Mallorca

Torrent De Pareis

(The setting is a FIVE TRUNK, but unfortunately the swimming only FOUR)

Location

Torrent de Pareis (near Calobra). The rough guide suggest decend from Escorca which requires rock-climbing skills, wetsuits and ropes! I’d suggest you follow the partly tunnelled concrete walkway for 5 mins from Sa Calobra.

Grid Ref

No idea

Features

Nice shingle beach, lots of different pools to choose from, great scenary, and even the option of sea swimming.

Hazards

None really. Well except for falling rocks and occasional coach partee loads of tourist (just pick a pool more than 10 metres from the concrete path and they will never find you.

Date of Last Swim

June 2002


Best In Mexico

Agua Azul

Location

Off the winding mountain road between Ocosingo and Palenque. This fantastic spot is located in the Parque Nacional of the same name.

Grid Ref

No idea

Features

The whole area is exceptionally beautiful and there are plenty of less busy places to swim if you walk upstream away from the tourist bit.

Hazards

Apparently there have been attacks on tourists upsteam (only just read that!), which may explain why there are guards every so often along the path.

Date of Last Swim

March 2005


Misol-Ha

Location

Approximately 18km from Palenque and a 1.5km walk from the main road. You can even stay in some of the most beautiful wooden cabanas in Mexico according to my guide book. Now why didn’t I read that while I was there?

Grid Ref

No idea

Features

A 25m waterfall forms the stunning backdrop to a good pool which is fine for swimming.

Hazards

The signs warns you not to go into the pool in your clothes or shoes because it is deep! So you have been warned.

Date of Last Swim

March 2005


Rio Grijalva In Canon Del Sumidero (Mexico)

Location

This swim in in the town of Chiapa de Corzo (I think) where the boats leave for trips up the canyon. Its about 50km from San Cristobal de las Casas.

Grid Ref

No idea

Features

What more could you ask for steps leading into the water and adjacent bars/restaurants!

Hazards

The water was quite fast flowing and I suppose I should mention the crocodiles!

Date of Last Swim

March 2005


Best In Nepal

On Route To Everest Base Camp

Location

Look for a glacial lake in-between the mountains near Dublha.

Grid Ref

No idea, but somewhere where its cold!

Features

Beautiful scenery with mountain and glacier backdrop.

Hazards

Floating ice and I suppose I should mention the cold…..

Date of Last Swim

March 2004


Rapti River In Chitwan National Park At Sauraha

Location

Go in adjacent to the Jungle Pub (preferably before having a drink).

Grid Ref

Features

Easy access, handy pub and variable depths of water.

Hazards

Surprisingly shallow, quite a strong current in middle and I suppose I should mention that this is the elephants bathing area!

Date of Last Swim

March 2004


Best In Tanzania

Ngo Dong River

(A FIVE TRUNK location and even warm water)

Location

To the south of Gezaulole village.

Grid Ref

Features

Excellent stretch of fairly isolated warm water close to where it enters the sea. The latter affects the depth, although there are always places deep enough for a proper swim. Very tame birds in the adjacent bushes can be viewed if you are quiet.

Hazards

Some people might find the water too warm!!!!! We did have a possible sighting of a crocodile, but it turned out to be a tree branch in the water.

Date of Last Swim

25th October 2006


Best In Vietnam

Ngo Dong River

(A THREE TRUNK location: excellent views but muddy)

(I’m the tiny blob on the right)

Location

My swim was in the very touristy bit of the river at Tam Coc. Its about 9km to the SW of Ninh Binh, not too far from Hanoi.

Grid Ref

Not known

Features

Warm and shallow water, along with breathtaking views.

Hazards

Due to the warm and shallow water the bottom of the river is very muddy. More worryingly is that Vietnam has Schistosomiasis! Also known as Bilharzia! Its transmitted by minute worms tht enter through your skin and attach themselves to your intestines or bladder. The resulting infection often causes no symptoms until the disease is well established (several months to years after exposure) and damage to internal organs is irreversible. STILL least you had a good swim!

Date of Last Swim

February 2003


Perfume River

(A FOUR TRUNK location)

Location

Perfume River passes through the city of Hue in central Vietnam. I chose a spot for a swim c. 6km to the south near the village of Tuan to the north of the car ferry.

Grid Ref

Not known

Features

The bank from the adjacent road is a bit steep, but some kind sole has built concrete steps. Its a bit stoney and gets deep pretty quick.

Hazards

None really, although I did gain a crowd of school children.

Date of Last Swim

February 2003