Rafting & Kayaking in the Western Cape
Rafting in South Africa
Freedom, nature, adventure and fun…. Paddling puts you back in touch with these core human yearnings. A truly limitless sport that is accessible to absolutely everyone, paddling will take you to places that you would never otherwise have had the opportunity of seeing or experiencing.
Mainstream paddling in South Africa is linked to the competitive side of the sport and includes world-famous events such as the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Fish and Berg River Marathons. However, magnificent weather patterns provide the ideal backdrop for the diverse commercial paddling industry, which comprises rafting, sea-kayaking and touring on the country’s spectacular rivers, oceans, dams and lakes.
South Africa’s low rainfall belies the fact that it is home to some of the best river-rafting sections in the world. The rivers running off the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains in the east of the country provide high-volume and exciting rafting after good summer rains, through wild and untouched areas such as the Tugela, Umkomaas and Umzimkulu valleys as they head to the warm sub-tropical coastline.
The rivers in the Western Cape are lower volume and rely on winter rains, offering more relaxed trips and allowing paddlers to soak in the beautiful wineland scenery. This area is better known for idyllic sea-kayaking expeditions that focus on the area’s rich history and abundant sea life, delivering unforgettable interactions with penguins, dolphins, seals, whales and birds.
The dry desert regions of central and northwestern South Africa are interrupted by the country’s longest river, the Orange River, which provides endless sections to explore through ancient landscapes and gorges that nourish the soul.
The rivers of the northern Highveld and Lowveld areas are generally narrow, rocky and technical.
They often win the award for rafting excitement as they flow through expansive canyons, special conservancies and lush, pristine valleys.
Whatever your appetite, no matter your skill level and wherever you find yourself in South Africa, there is a stretch of water nearby that will satisfy any desire and may well surprise you by being the highlight of a holiday or quick getaway.
Articles & Blogs
Get ready to SUP in Cape Town9:30am 12 Aug
Get ready to SUP in Cape Town
Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and it is quickly taking hold in South Africa, not only as a sport, but as a fitness-orientated pastime as well. Like surfing, part of the draw is the physical element, without it ever feeling like a workout. But unlike surfing, it doesn’t take very long to get to grips with the basics.
I honestly thought I would start this article with a hilarious story about falling into the canal. I...
Adventure in Grabouw1:39pm 9 Oct
Getting gritty in Grabouw: My little piece of adventure
Gadijah Darries for Cape Town Tourism
A few years ago I was a very adventurous person, but after too many broken bones and visits to the casualty unit I decided to scale down. I am one of those people with ECS (excessive clumsiness syndrome) so for me the outdoors can be fatal.
Nonetheless, when my colleagues and I were offered the opportunity to go kayaking, hiking and mountain biking, all in one trip, the adventurer in me took over and I couldn’t resist. So there I was in the...
Discovering Simon’s Town6:00am 3 Jul
Words by Fiona McIntosh, pics by Chris Fallows, Dave Hurwitz, Shaen Adey, Derek Goldman
Sometimes you just have to drop everything you’re doing and seize the day. So when I heard that orcas had been spotted in False Bay I cancelled my meetings and headed over to Simon’s Town.
I’ve driven through this seaside spot numerous times on the way to the Peninsula’s top dive sites, the penguin colony at Boulders Beach and to Cape Point. I’ve...
Orca Sighting5:35pm 9 May
Most people would immediately leave the water at the sight of a two-metre high dorsal fin cutting through the glassy surface. Not Dave Hurwitz. When the owner of the Simon’s Town Boat company (the sole permit holder for whale and dolphin watching in False Bay) got news of orca sightings just off the coast south of Simon’s Town this week he was quick to launch his boat. And the reward was quality time with a very relaxed pod of 6 killer whales. Dave recorded the first sightings of orca this year only 10 days previously when a pod of was spotted on one of his scheduled trips out to...
Nightjar Junior and the Dolphins4:55pm 13 Apr
Every once in a while, we make Nightjar Junior do something fun and write us 'the youth perspective'... Not too much fun of course, else he'll get spoilt. This week, we sent him sea kayaking:
"After much persuasion (almost none whatsoever), my dad agreed to bring the two-person kayak to Cape Town. It was covered in dust, but completely unscathed, from ten strenuous years of lying in our garage.
My girlfriend and I were already giddy with excitement, having talked about doing this for months, and it was pleasant paddling up until we decided to go back. From then, in just...
Chris Bertish5:01am 2 Apr
- In a nutshell: A world first solo, unassisted, 8 day SUP journey up the Cape West Coast, from Cape Town to Lamberts Bay to raise money for The Lunchbox Fund.
- The adventurer: Chris Bertish, 38, from Cape Town,
- Previous big adventures: History shows that Chris Bertish has big kahunas. In 2001 he won the XXL Swell.com Award for the biggest wave paddled in the world that year. He was the first person to paddle into the legendary surf break at Jaws in Peahi, Hawaii and has numerous Big...
THE WEST COAST - SOUTH AFRICA'S SOUL COASTLINE9:04pm 15 Oct
Words and pics by Paul Winter
In certain symbolism, the place where the sea meets the shoreline is a representation of the mystical zone where the human spirit meets the body. In South African tradition, the West Coast represents a similar place of lucidity and soulfulness. It is a sparsely populated part of the country where, on one level, you can engage all your physical senses. On another level, you are free to 'just be' and explore your inner space...
TUMBLING DOWN THE RIVER - TUBING THE PALMIET3:19pm 25 Jun
I discovered tubing in China. I was in a rather hippy spot called Wangshao, deep in those incredible karst mountains that you see in Chinese watercolour paintings. Clearly the laid-back feel of the place was getting to me for when I spotted, in the Lonely Planet Guide, that one could navigate this scenic section of the Yangtze River in an inflated tractor inner tube I was intrigued. My poor husband was given no choice – the next day we were going tubing.
BAY OF PLENTY9:50am 20 May
Paddle along kelp-tossed coves, laze upon a secluded beach and taste the salt water on the afternoon breeze … sea kayaking is this summer’s ultimate ocean experience. Take some time out to explore the Cape of Great Swells.
Sell your golf clubs. Cancel those weekly meditation classes. And fire your shrink. Now pool all of your savings,...