Palmiet River

The greater part of this beautiful river flows through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, offering unspoilt fynbos and sandstone mountain scenery. It is a great river with pool-drop rapids, some of which are quite technical. The water has a characteristic tea colour (thanks to the palmiets), but is very drinkable.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, bottom section also croc
  • Grade: 3
  • Length: 25 km from farm, 4 km from reserve
  • Duration: 6 to 8 hours, or 1 to 2 hours for last section with playing
  • Type: Pool-drop. Long flat stretches on top section, lots of channels.
  • Put-in: 1) Low-level bridge on Monteith Trust farm. Phone during office hours (before 9 am on Friday) for access. 34°15’18.3″S 19°02’02.7″E
    2) In the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Entrance from R44, close to take-out point. Ask for road to put-in at the gate.  34°18’54.4″S 18°57’45.9″E
  • Take-out: At river-mouth, just after bridge on R44.  34°19’51.5″S 18°59’28.4″E
  • Levels paddleable: Water must be flowing through all openings at low-level bridge
  • Dam controlled: Yes
  • Permits: Permission from Trust Farm when doing full section (contact CWWC). Seasonal or day permit from CNC for short section.
  • Commercial operators: Gravity River Tours


A long and worthwhile trip can be done from the low-level bridge on the Monteith Trust farm. There are some long flat sections that can be a slog when the water is low, but the scenery is awesome, and there are challenging rapids to negotiate. Many paddlers, though, prefer to do only the last short section, where the concentration of rapids is highest. Commercial trips are also offered on the last section.

Soon after the put-in at the low-level bridge, the river is clogged with palmiets and other members of the vegetation family. Small channels make it possible to go through it, but it is advisable to get out on the right and take an easy walk down for about a kilometre, before getting on the water again.

A nasty weir spans the river about 4km after the start, which should be portaged on the right bank. Another 6km down, watch out for a spectacular waterfall, 6 metres high. The sloped waterfall has been run but it is a very tight line, if you miss it you will end up in a pothole with no escape – class V+.  It is highly recommended that you portage it on the left bank. This fall is almost halfway and is often used as a lunch spot. Further down is a low-level bridge that should be portaged on the left.

The last section to the take-out, which is most often run, is exciting, with short pools between the rapids. There are two weirs close to the end, which has runnable lines at most levels. Don’t attempt to run them blind if you don’t know them, first scout. The last major rapid, just below the second weir, is one of the more testing on the section. It is long with a couple of small keeper holes, and also has a nice surf hole in the middle.

Be wary of pour-overs in some of the rapids when the water level is up. They become sticky and demands positive attitude and perfect boofing. A couple of nice playspots can be found along the way, the most well-known one being right at the take-out.

Detailed trip report on Adrian Tregoning’s blog: The Palmiet River unveiled and Palmiet River – First full length trip

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