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

MAP 51

It is advisable to do this section at a low level first, as it is very tight and steep. Despite the steepness, it is relatively safe at a low level, because there are few vertical drops. Most of the rapids consist of slides, some of them pretty high.

Look out for a long, very steep, stepped slide before halfway. Parts of it might be runnable, but there will probably be a pine tree or two at critical spots.

Somewhere in the middle of the section is a very narrow stretch that is not paddleable. Portage this on the right. There is a waterfall a bit further down with a deep pool at the bottom, which is probably runnable. Otherwise lower the boats on the left with ropes and jump after it.

Be careful of tree-blocks, parts of the river go through pine plantations. The trees in the river come and go with floods, so it is possible to encounter none, but there might be a few bad spots.

Not far below the take-out at the low-level bridge is a spectacular waterfall. To get there you have to go through private farmland, and before the waterfall is a serious rapid which normally has very bad strainers in it as well, making it less worthwhile to push on after the bridge.

This river description is taken from my book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.
If you have any pictures or recent information on this section of river to share, please contact me:
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