Caledon River

The section of the Caledon River below Welbedacht Dam is surprisingly challenging for K1-paddlers. It is a rather large river when it has water, and there are a couple of big rapids that should not be under-estimated. Unfortunately the river is too low to paddle most of the time. The Welbedacht Dam is a small, deep dam that gets silted up regularly, and water is only released after good rains. The section is usually only paddled when a race is held and the organisers of the event arrange for a release from the dam.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 35km
  • Duration: 3 to 5 hours
  • Type: Wide, with long flat sections and some big rapids
  • Put-in: Below Welbedacht Dam
  • Take-out: On ‘Klein Holstein’ farm
  • Dam controlled: Welbedacht Dam
  • Permits: Permission from farmer at take-out (race organisers take care of that)

MAP 57

The start of the section is just below the dam wall. Approximately 1km downstream, you will encouter a 1.5m high weir. It is shootable at chutes in the middel or on the far right. It is possible to drive to the weir to scout it before running it in the race.

Flat-water follows for about 5km, before hitting one of the bigger rapids. It has a drop and a couple of waves that make the going rather difficult in a K1. The next major rapid, which has a 1m drop, is situated right in front of an iron bridge, some 3km further; run it on the far left.

Another 3km on, the next big rapid, called ‘Yster se hek’, awaits on a riverbend to the right. Soon after this the river splits around an island. Both sides feature some interesting rapids, but nothing serious. Some more flat-water, which ends at a weir, follows for about 2km. The weir can be shot on the far right, but be carefull of rocks at the bottom.

The next 8km is pretty flat and uneventful. A relatively big rapid marks the end of the flat-water, with a tight turn at the bottom. Some small rapids follows for the next kilometre, ending in a slightly bigger rapid with a drop at the bottom, which should be run more or less on the left.

The last few kilometres to the take-out of the racing section is all flat again. The take-out on the farm ‘Klein Holstein’ can be recognised by a round pumphouse built of stones. The river is completely flat from the take-out down to the N6.

This river description is taken from my book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.
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