Mutale River

The Mutale is one of those unknown jewels. It offers spectacular scenery in a deep gorge and challenging rapids.Ideal for: Kayak

  • Grade: 3 to 4-
  • Length: 25km
  • Duration: Long 1 day, easy 2 day
  • Type: Pool-drop
  • Put-in: Take dirt road down to river, walk down last bit where road ends
  • Take-out: Road close to river on the right, just after gorge opens up
  • Dam controlled: Fundudzi Dam
  • Permits: None

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Letaba River

The Letaba is one of those rivers that are still waiting to be explored. It is one of the major rivers in the Northern Province and its upper stretches are in the Magoebaskloof mountains, which receive a fair amount of rain every year. 

The section described here is just below Ebenezer Dam.  During the summer a paddleable level can be expected most of the time. As far as I know, none of the other potential sections of this river have been paddled yet.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 3 to 4
  • Length: 7km
  • Duration: 3 to 5 hours
  • Type: Steep and narrow
  • Put-in: Bridge where R528 crosses river
  • Take-out: Low level bridge on dirt road that turns off from R528
  • Dam controlled: Ebenezer Dam
  • Permits: None

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Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon has become one of the most popular stretches to paddle for both kayakers and commercial rafters. The canyon – the third largest in the world – is one of the natural wonders of the country, and a trip down this river offers a different view on the awesome scenery. The clear water is also something to appreciate if you are used to the sediment-enriched water found in most rivers on the sub-continent.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, croc
  • Grade: 2 to 4
  • Length: 9km
  • Duration: 3 hours to full day
  • Type: Pool-drop, some long rapids. Canyon.
  • Put-in: Mariepskop campsite
  • Take-out: Blydepoort Dam
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Yes, arranged via commercial operators
  • Commercial operators: Blyde Adventure Centre, Induna Adventures

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Sabie River – Lower section

The lower Sabie is a popular commercially rafted stretch. It is easily accessible and offers exciting rapids to clients without scaring them. It’s also a challenging run for K1-paddlers (for whom the section might be a bit short to make it worthwhile) and a nice playsection for kayakers. The river runs quite close to the road and is skirted by farmland and holiday accommodation, but the thick vegetation gives the impression of isolation.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, croc, K1
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Length: 8km
  • Duration: 3 to 5 hours
  • Type: Flat sections with small rapids between
  • Put-in: Short dirt road next to the Sabaan River down to the confluence with the Sabie
  • Take-out: On private farm
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: Permission from Induna Adventures at put-in. Their office is just on the other side of the tar road. Permission from farmer at take-out. Arrange via commercial operators.
  • Commercial operators: Induna Adventures

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Sabie River – U1 section

The U1 section of the Sabie River is the original Upper Sabie section, and has been renamed after more sections were opened up further upstream. It has become the testing ground for many kayakers to measure their technical river running skills. Some of the rapids are somewhat nasty. That said, it must also be mentioned that all the major rapids are easy to scout and portage.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 3 to 4+
  • Length: 7km
  • Duration: 3 to 5 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, steep rapids.
  • Put-in: Turn off 4 or 5 km after crossing the Sabaan River, follow dirt road down to river (4×4 needed)
  • Take-out: Short dirt road next to the Sabaan River, down to the confluence with the Sabie
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: It might be necessary to ask permission at the put-in, as a new lodge has been built next to the road going down to the river. Permission from Induna Adventures at take-out. Their office is just on the other side of the tarred road at the take-out.

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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.

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Crocodile River – Gorge

This gorge has some of the most dangerous rapids in the country. The N4 runs next to it on the northern side and a railway line with its service road on the southern side, but the vegetation is so thick that you don’t notice it. Also keep in mind that the flat sections near the two bridges are likely to have some hippos in it.Ideal for: Kayak

Grade: 3 to 5
Length: 15km
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
Type: Short steep technical rapids
Put-in: Bridge of N4, or further downstream reachable from the railway service road
Take-out: Bridge of N4, or before that at any of the rest areas on the N4
Dam controlled: Kwena Dam, but Elands River and other tributaries join below dam
Permits: None (more…)

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Crocodile River – Kwena Dam to Montrose

The Crocodile is one of the major rivers in Mpumalanga. It is fed by lots of small tributaries and also the Elands River. It runs into the Komati River just short of the Mozambique border. The stretches below Montrose are inhabited by herds of hippo, and apart from the gorge, should not be paddled by sensible people (some might argue that the gorge should in any case not be run by sensible people).

The section described here is the course of the annual Lowveld Crocodile Marathon, held over two days. It is characterised by lots of weirs, low-level bridges and trees, for which one should be on the lookout. The description below applies for a typical race level of 10 cumecs, as supplied by Kwena Dam.Ideal for: K1

  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Length: 33km, 24km
  • Duration: 3 to 5 hours, 2 to 4 hours
  • Type: Narrow, fast
  • Put-in: Below dam wall
  • Take-out: Above Montrose Falls
  • Dam controlled: Kwena Dam
  • Permits: None

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Elands River – Gorge

This is a short but fun trip with great scenery. The spectacular Dante Falls is also on this section, which has been run a couple of times by very experienced kayakers.

  • Ideal for: Kayak
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 5km
  • Duration: 1 to 3 hours
  • Type: Gorge, pool-drop rapids
  • Put-in: Closest bridge to Montrose where N4 crosses Elands River
  • Take-out: Montrose
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: None

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Elands River – Sappi to N4 bridge

This relatively unknown section is popular with the local K1-paddlers, and ad hoc races have been held on it.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 1 to 2
  • Length: 24km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Type: Narrow, small rapids
  • Put-in: Bridge at Sappi factory, below weir
  • Take-out: Last of the three N4 bridges crossing the Elands
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: None

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