Doring River

Flowing through beautiful mini-canyons in the Cederberg, this section is a favourite multi-day trip for both private trippers and commercial rafters. It is often referred to as the Cape’s Tugela, as it provides excellent big water after good rains in the Ceres area. The river cuts through the Great Karoo, providing life to the barren landscape.


It is probably the only Western Cape river where there is a reasonable possibility to experience good weather, as the catchment area is a good 200km from this section. The water and air temperature will still be on the cold side, though, as it is only paddleable in the winter.

It can be done easily in 3 days by kayakers if the water is not too low, but rafters normally need 4 to 5 days to do it. The Doring is a typical pool-drop river, with mostly flat-water interspersed with small rapids, and a couple of bigger ones thrown in every now and then. A highlight of the section is the Brandewyn Falls on the Brandewyn River, just before its confluence with the Doring.

The major rapids feature names like Corner, Waterfall, House, Kranz, Island, Jaws and S-bend. At low levels they are straightforward to run, but at a high level some bad holes should be avoided, and scouting is necessary. Playholes abound on this section, especially when the water is up.

Beware of the weir just before the take-out, which should be portaged on the right.

It has become common practice not to make fires on this section, as wood is scarce in this sensitive desert environment. Use butane stoves instead. And a word of advice: don’t invade the commercial operator’s camps when doing a private trip.

Detailed trip reports on Adrian Tregoning’s blog: Doring River – 3 days of awesomeness, Doring River Alone – Day 1, Doring River Alone – Day 2, Doring River Alone – Day 3 and Doring River Alone – Day 4.

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