Liebenbergsvlei River

The river is characterized by willow trees often forming interesting obstacles that must be navigated with care. Most tree blocks have a sneak line, however the flow of the river might get you in tight spots at times. The strong flow of the river made the banks very steep and the river deep. K1-races are held on this part of the river.

  • Ideal for: K1
  • Grade: 1 to 2 with some tree blocks
  • Length: 45 km
  • Duration: 4 to 6 hours
  • Type: Narrow, mostly flat, continuous flow
  • Put-in: Crossing with R26
  • Take-out: Close to Danielsrus, turn west onto S595 towards Mosbank
  • Dam controlled: Caledon Transfer Tunnel
  • Permits: None

With the construction of the Caledon Transfer Tunnel, all bridges crossing the river have been upgraded. The easiest way to get to the river crossings is to take the Lindley road from Bethlehem and then turn right onto the Small Grain Institute road (5km outside Bethlehem). This road follows the river not too far from the west bank, and makes several easy accesses to the river possible.

From the start of the section at the R26, one will encounter the first rapid (Skelmbos, class 2) after about 9km of paddling. Willows obscure this rapid, and about 20m before the rapid one must quickly veer to the right to avoid the trees. Hanging branches open up as your nose dives into a 4m wide fast drop. The best approach is in the centre to avoid the suckback. There are some nasty tree blocks about 30 minutes after the rapid, which can be portaged on any side.

The first bridge for optional put-in or take-out is at 15 km. The second bridge is another 9km downstream. An old demolished bridge causes an easy cascading rapid here. Be careful of several submerged iron bars. The safest route is on the left as the rapid takes you under the new bridge. The third bridge is 9km further down. It was built by a farmer and has six pillars, great for wrapping a K1 if you’re a novice. You will find a metre drop, a few unfriendly rocks and a very sharp left turn directly after the pillars. Avoid the first gap on the left.

The next 18 km has smooth, moderate flowing stretches going through willow forests. There is a fourth bridge to go underneath as well as an abandoned bridge, which might force a portage if the river level is high. Some 3km before the finish is a broken low-level bridge causing a class 2 rapid. Be careful of the submerged pipes that can suck you in. The approach is on the left-hand side, and tricky due to the trees. The finish is at the bridge of the S595 from Daniëlsrus.

If you encounter any problems on the river, rather follow the river to the closest bridge. There are many bridges and this will prevent causing problems with crime sensitive farmers. If all else fails, you are never more than 4 km from the gravel road on the western side.

If you want to go further, the river is very much similar as far as the Wilge River confluence. Water Affairs has two gauging weirs, one at Reitz Water Works and one about 10km from Frankfort, which should be portaged.

This river description is taken from my book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.
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