Dwars River

The Dwars is a classic pool-drop creek, with the option to walk around the scary stuff. The top five rapids are not recommended for incompetent paddlers, as it features some technical rapids with must make moves and a couple of waterfalls, culminating in a spectacular 9m drop.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: Top section 5, bottom section 3 to 4
  • Length: 7 km
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Type: Top section pool-drop, bottom section more continuous. Low volume creek.
  • Put-in: Leave vehicle at parking area next to the entrance of the Ceres Nature Reserve. Take footpath that leads along the border of the golf course, over the railway, onto a road to a weir.   33°22’51.1″S 19°18’06.1″E
  • Take-out: Picnic site at confluence with Wit Els. It is the only turn-off to the left, coming from Ceres. The Wit Els is the first flowing river joining the Dwars from the left.   33°24’60.0″S 19°17’26.9″E
  • Levels paddleable: Look at waterfall from last parking area at road. Don’t run the river if it is flooding.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: None


The first drop is unrunnable as the whole river disappears through a rock that looks something like Swiss cheese and should definitely be portaged. The next rapid, known as the Gauntlet, is steep and the whole river channels into a mini gorge. Enter from river left with a strong boof stroke and make sure you punch the sticky hole at the bottom of the rapid.

The longest and most technical rapid is next, often guarded by trees at the top. The Staircase, is a multistage rapid beginning with a 2m drop on river left, from which a paddler will need to move to river right to avoid a siphon and make a boof over a feature known as the ‘Fist’. From their move left again, boofing a hole into a slide that should take you right again.

Third is a tricky rapid known to some as Thunder Alley, the flow is split by a big boulder in the centre of the rapid, go left of it and enjoy the rollercoaster ride to the bottom. Make sure you have speed and safety set up because there is a river wide hole guarding the exit of the rapid.
Next up is a 2m waterfall with lines down the centre channel or the right channel.

After some boogy water you will see the horizon line for the 9m waterfall, scout on the right. It is considered a friendly waterfall with a gently sloping lip, just be wary of over boofing and landing flat.

Below the waterfall are two fairly technical rapids that hide rocks, scout if you are unsure. Most paddlers take out on river right after this and hike up to the train tracks and back to the carpark.

It is not recommended to go on to the usual take out at the Wit Els confluence as alien vegetation has choked the river and made passage next to impossible.

Expect a loose stool after a trip down this river, the water is polluted badly. Locals usually begin paddling it late in the season to give the river a chance to flush the worst of the dry summer debri.

Special thanks to Scott Reinders for his input in this river description.

Detailed trip reports on Adrian Tregoning’s blog: Dwars River – It’s days like these and Dwars River – Park, Hike, Descent.

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.