Tradouw River

The Tradouw is easily one of the best runs in the country, but because it borders the arid Karoo, it unfortunately only runs once every two years or so. When it does though, you will see Cape paddlers flocking to Barrydale.

  • Ideal for: Creek boat
  • Grade: 4 – 5
  • Length: 11km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Type: Continuous creeking with some big holes
  • Put-in: River parking for the Bronze Grove Farm and Chalets
  • Take out: River left once the road gets close to the river after you exit the gorge
  • Levels paddleable: Usually paddleable when the area is experiencing floods. If Montague is flooding the Tradouw will be up.
  • Permits: Bronze Grove for permission to park at put in.

MAP - Tradouw River

The Tradouw River pass is another one of Thomas Bains’ famous roads, linking the N2 with the famous Route 62. For the first few kilometres the pass is close to the river before becoming one of the great gorges of South Africa. Bear this in mind because once you get 3km down the river, escaping becomes almost impossible.

The river is continuous with most rapids stacked close together. The biggest rapids are all in the first few kilometres and if you are comfortable on these you shouldn’t be concerned about being locked in further down. However, the rapids downstream may be a bit smaller, but they are very technical and still demanding. About halfway is an unrun waterfall that has a boulder at the bottom; there is a line, but it is marginal and yet to be claimed.

Because the river runs so rarely a fascinating phenomenon occurs – the eddies are full of natural foam. This is not pollution but rather the release of compounds from flora known as surfacants. Enjoy the foam party, but be wary of going into some eddies where the foam is over head high. Swimming in this also makes for a dangerous situation so stay on your toes.

The river holds its water better than most Cape rivers and you will be able to paddle it for up to three days after good rains.


Special thanks to Scott Reinders for supplying this river description.

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:
I appreciate any contributions to keep this content up-to-date.