Based on the design of the Vubu, the Pungwe creeker is the fierce little sister, equally equipped with the same performance and feature requirements designer Celliers Kruger required from its larger sibling.

The Pungwe thrives on technical and lower volume creeks. The boat has more rocker in comparison to length than the Vubu and is slightly more agile. This manoeuvrability allows paddlers to react quickly and make last minute adjustments such as pivoting into micro eddies or avoiding crocodiles.

While not quite as fast as its big brother, the Pungwe is still quick through flat-water and tracks well, making it easy to stay on line. The shape of the bow and volume help it transition through eddy lines and aerated water without spinning out or slowing down.

The added rocker in the Pungwe also has the added benefit of making it boof more easily, giving paddlers confidence on steep creeks and waterfalls. The peaked front and back decks on the boat help it resurface quickly and evenly after drops and the stern is designed to propel the kayak forward out of holes.

The creeker also has substantial secondary stability that is vital for confidence when running steep rapids where flipping upside down isn’t ideal. If you do capsize, the Pungwe is easy and fast to roll, minimising time upside down.

While based on the design of the Vubu, the Pungwe has its own virtues and is an ideal creeker for smaller paddlers or paddlers that want a responsive boat for technical low volume creeks.

The volume of this kayak is 310 L / 81.9 gl and the keyhole cockpit dimensions are 87 x 51 cm / 34.25″ x 20″.

Length: 252 cm / 8’3″
Width: 65 cm / 25.5″
Height: 42 cm / 16.5″
Weight: 21 kg / 46.3 lbs
Ideal paddler weight: 50-85 kg / 110-190 lb
Max. carrying capacity: 100 kg / 220 lb


While smaller children will find this kayak too large to paddle and manoeuvre, it is perfect for older children and teens.




The Pungwe is obviously not designed for real flatwater paddling, but it is not too horrible to paddle on the flatwater sections between rapids.


For multi-day whitewater trips where there are lots of rapids and not too many miles of flatwater, the Pungwe is a great kayak. It is super easy to pack your stuff in the stern of the kayak, with no pillar to obstruct your access. It is also easy to take out the footrest because there is no front pillar, so you can load a few items in the bow of the kayak too.




If you only have one kayak and are desperate to get on the ocean, you can play around on the sea with the Pungwe. The same properties that make it handle whitewater well, will make it easy to paddle through surf break. But it’s not a surf kayak and it’s not good for long distances on the ocean.


If you made your way out through the breakers to the backline, you’ll be able to surf your way back to the beach too. But be sure that it’s going to be mostly sidesurfing; you’re not going to be pulling any moves. Unless you count windowshading as a move…


Yeah. That is what this boat is designed for. The bigger and more technical, the better. It will make easy rapids boring, and bring difficult rapids closer to your comfort zone.



I designed the Vubu before the Pungwe, and as the Pungwe is based on the Vubu design, read my ‘From the Designer’ write-up on the Vubu before you continue.

The obvious difference between the Vubu and the Pungwe is that the Pungwe is shorter and a bit narrower. In other words, it is smaller. This means that it doesn’t have the same weight carrying capacity as the Vubu. If you tip the scale over 90 kg / 200 lb, the Vubu is most likely the better option for you. Conversely, if you’re a smaller person weighing under 60 kg / 130 lb on a scale and if you are not interested in extreme racing, you pretty much should go for the Pungwe instead of the Vubu.

If you’re somewhere between 60 kg / 130 lb and 90 kg / 200 lb, your choice between these two kayaks will be determined by what you intend to do with it. The Vubu is faster than the Pungwe, but the Pungwe is slightly more manoeuvrable.

I gave the Pungwe a little bit more rocker in comparison to its length, which makes it turn easier and also makes it boof super easy. For big volume creeks, where speed and the ability to punch through holes is more important, go for the Vubu. For more technical and lower volume creeks, where quick reaction times and the ability to fit into micro eddies are more important, go for the Pungwe.

If you’re on the higher end of the weight range and want to do multi-day trips, go for the Vubu to handle the extra weight. If you’re on the lighter side, the Pungwe has a lot of packing space too, so there is no reason not to go for this smaller boat. The smaller kayak size means that the Pungwe is a lighter weight to carry too.

Celliers Kruger, designer of Vagabond Kayaks

The whitewater kayaking scene in South Africa has a few events that are hosted each year. Thrombi X-Fest is a classic and was held in 2023 on 28/29 January on the Umzimkulu River in the Underberg area. A new introduction was a Kayak Cross event.

Kayak Cross is defined as an ‘extreme slalom’ event where a head-to-head downriver run includes ‘gates’, similar to those in a traditional slalom event. The kayaker has to navigate through the course, rounding the gates (the hanging poles in the video). Unlike traditional slalom, the kayaker can touch the gate poles without incurring a penalty.
Kayak cross is a new Olympic canoeing event. It will make its debut at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

In this video from Thrombi X-Fest, look out for the orange Vagabond Pungwe whitewater creeker leading into the first rapid at 0:10. You’ll see him again at 0:45 catching the gate river left beautifully. Compare the Pungwe going through the rapid at 1:58 with the messiness that follows at 2:18. Nice line, awesome kayak, cool video. Well done to all participants. Exciting race! Video by Spencer Kriel.