Olifants River – Above Strijdom Tunnel

The scenery on this trip will impress anyone, no matter what your frame of reference is. It goes through a very deep gorge with steep-sided cliffs. It is a very isolated piece of river and one is very unlikely to meet anyone else in this mountain wilderness.

  • Ideal for: Croc, kayak
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 45km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 days
  • Type: Pool-drop
  • Put-in: Penge, or Mabinz for a day trip
  • Take-out: Follow dirt road next to Manoutsa down to river. Take-out is upstream of the weir.
  • Dam controlled: Loskop Dam, but it is far upstream. Water level not really dependent on dam release.
  • Permits: None
  • Commercial operators: Blyde

MAP 46

A two-day or three-day trip can be undertaken from Penge to the Manoutsa below the Strijdom tunnel. Most paddlers do it in two days, but those who have time to spare, can do themselves a favour and take it really easy. There are many dry kloofs coming into the Olifants, waiting to be explored.

The first day is mild with long, flat pools and the rapids are mostly small, except for one long narrow rapid cutting through the stone. There are a few nice beaches where one can pitch camp.

The second day is more exciting as far as whitewater is concerned. The last 12km from Mabinz to Manoutsa has plenty of challenging rapids, but still with decent pools between them. There are a few rapids on this last section that touch on class 4.

It is also possible to reach the river via Mabinz, making for an exciting one-day trip. The take-out is the same as for the long trip. Be careful when paddling towards the weir at the take-out. There might be a lone hippo in the pool.

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