Olifants River – Visgat

This rarely run but awesome piece of the Olifants River cuts right through the Groot Wintershoek wilderness and is one of the most beautiful gorges in South Africa. There are no roads even close to the edge of the gorge, so once you start, you are locked in until you leave the walled-in gorge.

Access is an issue, where a permit is needed by Cape Nature and that is no guarantee the farmer will let you put in on his property…

  • Ideal for: Creek boat
  • Grade: 4 – 5
  • Length: 40km
  • Duration: 10 hours / best to do overnight
  • Type: Very tight pool-drop with some continuous sections
  • Put-in: Low level bridge, Glendonald Farm
  • Take out: The road by the Citrusdal Warm Baths
  • Levels paddleable: Usually two or three days after good rain in the Ceres area. Do not put on if flooding.
  • Permits: Cape Nature permits and Glendonald farmer permission

MAP - Olifants River - Visgat

Most of the action is found in the first 15km, where numerous class 4 and a few class 5’s wait. Some sections are completely walled in, making rapids unportageable. There is one must-make-portage in the first 3km; look out for a cottage on river left with a zipline into the big pool and take out on river right before the flow get’s too fast. Seal launch below the portage around a potholed waterfall.

From this point on, the gorge begins in proper. There are places where the walls get very tight and it makes for an unforgettable experience. If you are confident on a river like the Wit, you will have a great time. The rapids are technical but mostly of a pool-drop nature, but there are a few continuous sections to keep you on your toes. Just don’t go when the river is too high.

Be prepared to slog through some epic flatwater sections once you leave the gorge to reach the take-out. There are certain areas where black wattle vegetation has clogged the river, but there are channels through most of it. Just be careful that you don’t get snagged on a branch.

Special thanks to Scott Reinders for supplying this river description.

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