Rivers of the Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is a beautiful province, but not really known as a paddling destination. There are, however, some really good rivers. The paddleable rivers can be divided in two groups: those that are dependent on rainfall alone, and those that are controlled by the Gariep-Fish Transfer Scheme.

The area, which is a summer rainfall region like most of the country, doesn’t receive as much rain as the provinces to the north. The rivers dependent on rainfall are therefore not paddled very often. For up-to-date information on the river stretches, the Border Canoe Club can be contacted. The Eastern Province Canoe Union (EPCU) is also very helpful.

The rivers that form part of the Gariep-Fish Transfer Scheme have consistent water-levels right through the year. Water gets pumped from the Gariep Dam to the Teebus River through a 90km long tunnel. The Teebus River flows into the Great Brak, which feeds the Grassridge Dam. The Great Brak, flowing out of the dam again, joins the Great Fish further on. Much further downstream, past Cradock, some of the water in the Great Fish is tunnelled away to the Little Fish, which eventually flows back into the Great Fish. The water is used for irrigation purposes, and obviously gets lesser the further downstream one goes. To check the levels of these rivers, contact Water Affairs in Somerset East or the Fish River Irrigation Board in Cradock.

The former Transkei now forms part of the Eastern Cape Province, but the conditions differ in all aspects completely from the rest of the province. The Transkei rivers are thus described separately.