Buffalo River – Rorke’s drift to Fugitive’s drift

This is a difficult section of the Buffalo River with all kinds of rapids; boulders, ledges, drops, waterfalls, the whole variety.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 3 to 4, 5 at high water
  • Length: 12km
  • Duration: 4 to 8 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, long rapids
  • Put-in: Rorke’s drift, road across river
  • Take-out: Fugitive’s Drift, leave vehicle at carpark. Walk up from river.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Ask permission at Fugitive’s Drift

MAP 39

The section after the put-in consists mostly of slides over shelves. The river gradually changes and enters a gorge section with some serious rapids. Scout the rapids properly all the way down to the bottom to avoid any surprices. There are some bad siphons and undercuts at a few places.

Keep an eye open for an unrunnable waterfall. It has a tight sneak on the right, otherwise portage. Not far below the waterfall is a narrow gap through which all the water falls, with a keeper hole at the bottom that has caused many swims. Lower down is a 100m slide ending in a drop. It can be run left or right, or portage on the right bank.

Overall this is an intimidating section, but competent kayakers will enjoy it.

This river description is taken from my book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.
If you have any pictures or recent information on this section of river to share, please contact me:
I appreciate any contributions to keep this content up-to-date.