St. Lucia Estuary

Apart from all the rivers, there is another water bound adventure area in KwaZulu-Natal. Although no whitewater will be found there, the St. Lucia Estuary is one of those special places where outdoor enthusiasts can appreciate some of the best that Mother Nature offers.

Since World Heritage status was bestowed on this pristine area which includes 5 different eco-systems, Africa’s largest estuarine system is undergoing change. These changes include upgrading of roads, making the place more accessible. (more…)

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Buffalo River – Buffelshoek

This is probably the most popular section of the Buffalo, and the easiest place to experience unspoilt Zululand.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, croc, raft
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 9km
  • Duration: 3 to 6 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, long rapids
  • Put-in: Buffalo Rafters camp at Buffelshoek
  • Take-out: Farm road. Arrange with Buffalo Rafters.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Permission from Buffalo Rafters
  • Commercial operators: Buffalo Rafters, Isibindi (more…)

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Buffalo River – Fugitive’s Drift to Buffelshoek

This section is very similar to the section above Fugitive’s Drift; quite difficult in other words.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, last section also croc and raft.
  • Grade: 3 to 4, 5 at high water
  • Length: 13km
  • Duration: 4 to 8 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, long rapids
  • Put-in: Fugitive’s Drift, leave vehicle at carpark. Walk down to river.
  • Take-out: Buffalo Rafters camp at Buffelshoek
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Ask permission at both put-in and take-out

(more…)

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Buffalo River – Rorke’s drift to Fugitive’s drift

This is a difficult section of the Buffalo River with all kinds of rapids; boulders, ledges, drops, waterfalls, the whole variety.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 3 to 4, 5 at high water
  • Length: 12km
  • Duration: 4 to 8 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, long rapids
  • Put-in: Rorke’s drift, road across river
  • Take-out: Fugitive’s Drift, leave vehicle at carpark. Walk up from river.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Ask permission at Fugitive’s Drift

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Buffalo River – Dundee

This is a special trip for K1-paddlers, and not very well-known.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 1 to 2
  • Length: 42km
  • Duration: 5 to 7 hours
  • Type: Flat, small rapids
  • Put-in: Bridge on R33
  • Take-out: Bridge on R68
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Not when doing full section (more…)

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Tugela River – Middeldrift to Mandini

The last section of the Tugela down to the sea is characterized by long flat sections and wide rapids with many lines to choose from. It is not really used by anyone else but K1-paddlers, for whom this is one of the rivers where they can experience the wilderness of the KZN midlands without the threat of unrunnable rapids and waterfalls to look out for.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 60km
  • Duration: 2 days
  • Type: Pool-drop, open wide river
  • Put-in: Middeldrift bridge
  • Take-out: On farm when access is arranged, otherwise bridge reachable from Mandini, which is 10km further.
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Permission for take-out on farm where race ends

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Tugela River – Gorge

This is one of the most well-known stretch of serious whitewater rafting in South Africa, although not many people have paddled it, probably because of its reputation, but also because of the difficult access. It takes a while to drive the long dirt road to the put-in and take-out points, and the road is very slippery a fter rain. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile paddle, with some nice scenery, especially in the gorge section.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, raft, croc
  • Grade: 3 to 4 (5 at high level)
  • Length: 23 km
  • Duration: 6 hours, or easy 2 day trip
  • Type: Pool-drop, with a gorge section
  • Put-in: Rafting camp at Mfongosi
  • Take-out: Jameson’s Drift
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: None

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Tugela River – Red Ravine

The Red Ravine is another classic stretch of the Tugela, and a couple of commercial trips have also been done here in the past. It is not as isolated as other parts of the river, and the locals are not all friendly, so care should be taken of one’s valuables.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, raft
  • Grade: 2 to high 3
  • Length: 30km
  • Duration: Long 1 day, easy 2 day
  • Type: Pool-drop
  • Put-in: Tugela Estate bridge
  • Take-out: Turn of at school, short road goes down to river above weir
  • Dam controlled: Many tributaries below dam
  • Permits: None

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Tugela River – Canyon

This is a classic trip featuring a couple of both runnable and unrunnable waterfalls.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, raft, croc at low level
  • Grade: 3 to 5
  • Length: 55km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 days
  • Type: Pool-drop, with waterfalls and sometimes big volume
  • Put-in: Railway bridge where the Onderbroek River joins Tugela, 6km from Colenso
  • Take-out: Bridge where road from Weenen to Tugela Estate crosses river
  • Dam controlled: Spioenkop Dam, but some tributaries feed the Tugela below the dam
  • Permits: None
  • Commercial operator: Zingela, on lower part

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Tugela River – N3 to Colenso

This is an ideal section for beginner K1-paddlers to gain experience, and perfect for training.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 1
  • Length: 22km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Type: Flat, small rapids
  • Put-in: N3
  • Take-out: Colenso
  • Dam controlled: Spioenkop Dam, but some tributaries feed the Tugela below dam
  • Permits: None (more…)

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