Mac-Mac River

This is a pretty unknown section to paddle, although everybody knows about the river, due to the Mac-Mac Falls, which is a well-known tourist attraction. The section described here is the last 17 km of the river to the confluence with the Sabie River. Pine plantations surround the greater part of this section, but the vegetation on the river-banks is so thick that you hardly notice it.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 2 to 4, but some sections are easier than others
  • Length: 17km
  • Duration: 4 to 6 hours
  • Type: Mountain stream, gets steep every now and then
  • Put-in: Bridge where dirt road crosses river. The dirt road turn-off from R535 is 21km from Hazyview on the way to Graskop.
  • Take-out: Confluence with Sabie River, same as for upper Sabie
  • Levels paddleable: Any
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Permission from Sappi Office when doing the upper sections. Permission from Induna Adventures at take-out. Induna’s office is just on the other side of the tarred road at the take-out.

MAP 49

The river crosses five bridges from the put-in to the confluence. Keep in mind that the first four bridges to pass are on Sappi’s property, so make sure to ask permission at the Sappi Office which is situated close to the bridge at the put-in.

From the put-in to the first bridge (which is actually more of a concrete drift than a bridge) there are some nice class 2 to 3+ rapids, with long pools between. The river is small and the banks are thickly overgrown, but surprisingly no real strainer hazards are encountered (although floods might change this, so keep an eye open). Three of the rapids are quite steep, and scouting from the bank might be necessary.

The small rapid immediately below the first bridge leads into a huge waterfall/slide, so don’t try to run this rapid. Get out on the right at the bridge and walk along the dirt road down to the campsite at the bottom of the falls. Put in and enjoy rapids similar to those on the first section.

Portage around the second bridge and continue on nice and easy class 2 to 3 rapids. There is, however, one steep rapid that consists of two slides, which should be scouted properly. The wave at the bottom of the second slide hides a rock. Avoid this wave to prevent some ankle damage.

The third bridge has a nasty undercut beneath it. Portage, and start scouting the section that follows. The next couple of hundred metres host a series of runnable and unrunnable drops. These spectacular drops are easily scoutable from the right bank. Some of them are really fun to run and make good footage. Further down on this section there are a couple of solid tree-blocks that have to be portaged, unfortunately.

Scout the class 4+ rapid just below the fourth bridge properly. It is a bit tricky and twisty at the top and ends in a clean 3m drop. Apart from this rapid, the stretch to the next bridge is uneventful, with a few nice and fast chutes.

The easiest part of the whole section is from the fifth bridge down to the confluence, with some continuous class 2 to 3 rapids. The take-out is the same one used when doing the upper Sabie, which is a sandbank on the right just after the confluence. Remember once again to ask permission, as it is on private land.

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