Loteni River

Imagine a grade 3 rapid situated between awesome Drakensberg peaks. This rapid goes on for 17km, non-stop. That’s the Loteni for you. No pools (okay, maybe one) and only a few eddies to catch. If you have the nerves for a river so continuous, enjoy the ride. On the way down a few waterfalls from small tributaries in the surrounding mountains are visible, adding to the magical experience of the trip. The greater part of this major tributary to the Umkomaas is situated in the reserve, so the surroundings are very unspoilt.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, croc
  • Grade: 3
  • Length: 17km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Type: Continuous, non-stop mountain stream
  • Put-in: Loteni nature reserve. Follow road past chalets, walk down to river where road gets closest to it.
  • Take-out: Low level bridge where road to reserve crosses river.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Loteni Nature Reserve

Map Umko Loteni Nzinga

The put-in is very close to the river’s origin. The river can therefore only be paddled for a few days after good rain. About 5km after the start there is a small cataract which might be shootable with enough water, but first scout. There are a few pour-overs at higher levels that are a bit intimidating, but they are avoidable without too much effort. The trip doesn’t take long, and two trips a day can be managed when the water is up. Seconds will be able to follow your progress, as the river is visible for most part from the road.

The staff of the resort are very friendly and helpful, and have no problem with kayakers on the river. It might be a good idea to spend a night or two at the campsite (which is near the put-in) to really appreciate this place.

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.