Umgeni River – Midmar to Howick

This section of the Umgeni River might be a good alternative if your hot-shot buddies run the gorge below Howick and you don’t feel like sitting around the whole day waiting for them. This is not a spectacular section to paddle, but very accessible and good practice if you are in the area.

  • Ideal for: Kayak, K1
  • Grade: 2 to 3
  • Length: 7 km
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Type: Pool-drop, narrow
  • Put-in: Below dam wall
  • Take-out: Picnic spot above Howick Falls, left bank, just after bridge.
  • Levels paddleable: When dam is overflowing
  • Dam controlled: Midmar Dam
  • Permits: None

MAP 33

A short, fairly easy paddle. Most rapids are straightforward, except for a few boulder gardens where more precise manoeuvring is required. The main attraction on this stretch is the 3m waterfall just over halfway (K1-paddlers have to portage it). The waterfall is wide and broken on the left side. A few lines are runnable, but the best one is on the far right, next to the bank. On top of the waterfall is a long easy rapid. The easiest way for kayakers to run this is to go down the rapid on the right. Catch an eddy on the right just above the waterfall to get out and scout. The waterfall is also visible from the road that goes to the N3 from town (southern turn-off from N3 highway). A path goes down to the waterfall from the road for easy scouting before going to the put-in.

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