The Great Kei River used to form the border between the Cape Province and Transkei. Its eastern side is therefore very undeveloped, and access from that side is difficult. It drains quite a large area, resulting in a relatively big river on its lower course.
- Ideal for: Kayak, croc, K1 at certain levels
- Grade: 1 to 3 (4 at high level)
- Length: 20km (16+4)
- Duration: 3 to 4 hours
- Type: Pool-drop
- Put-in: On farm, where a 4×4 is needed
- Take-out: First railway bridge, before N2 bridge. Leave car at Ultra City on N2. At end of trip, walk up to Ultra City and take car down to railway bridge.
- Levels paddleable: Look at old causeway just below N2. If the water is level with the top of the pillars, it is excellent for everybody. 6 inches lower, cut-off for everybody. 6 inches higher, only for plastics.
- Dam controlled: No
- Permits: Pay at farmhouse (The Claims) at put-in
This is a very scenic stretch, and the road to the put-in adds to the excitement of the trip. The trip starts on the Kubusi River, which runs into the Great Kei some 4km after the start. If the Kubusi doesn’t have enough water, take another dirt road on the same farm and go further down to put in directly on the Great Kei. Remember to pay the small fee at the farm.
Although the river is dependent on rain, it has a large catchment area and this section is below most major tributaries. The river is relatively wide and open here. Playboaters will also find good waves to surf, so allow time for that when planning the trip.
Don’t attempt to go past the first railway bridge at the end; a nasty weir awaits you below it.
This river description is taken from my book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.
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