Senqu River

The Senqu is the upper reach of the Orange River, and can be considered to be the major river in Lesotho. Its source is near the Twelve Apostles in the Drakensberg and it meanders through Lesotho to cross the border in the southwest, where it becomes the Orange. It has been paddled from its source, but it rarely has enough water on the upper part to make it worthwhile.

  • Ideal for: K1, croc, even kayak
  • Grade: 1 to 2
  • Type: Remote mountain river
  • Levels paddleable: Summer season
  • Dam controlled: No
  • Permits: None

MAP 63

The placid river is ideal for a novice paddler in search of a wilderness paddle. The river runs through deep valleys, which seems to be uninhabited. Wisps of smoke in the early evening reveal the location of the camouflaged villages, and the long walk into the hills will almost always be rewarded with friendly faces and great excitement.

Different stretches can be paddled. The put-in for the first stretch is near Mokhotlong at the bridge. This is probably the best section to do if one has to choose. The take-out is on the way to Thaba-Tseka where the road crosses the river. The drive around leads over the second highest pass in Southern Africa. After heavy rains the low-level bridges over both the Senqu and the Linakeng may be impassable, so allow for additional waiting time if the weather has been wet. The Mashai Dam will drown this stretch towards the end of the decade so paddle it while the opportunity is still there. On the way you pass the confluence with the Malibamatso, now a shadow of its former self.

Paddlers seeking a longer trip can continue on for several more days to Sekake or even past the confluence of the Senquenyane to the take-out at the Quthing bridge, just upstream of Mount-Moorosi. Paddle 100m up the Quthing River to take out at the bridge on the main tarred road in Southern Lesotho. Beware of several large weirs prior to the confluence. The section after the confluence is very flat. A number of reports have indicated that people on the lower stretch are considerably less friendly, so exercise caution.

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