Best River Rafting Trips in SA

Northern Gems

©Roger de la Harpe
River rafting on the Sabie River in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.
©Jacques Marais
Rafting on the Vaal River in Gauteng.

South Africa is home to a few awesome torrential rivers that promises an exhilarating white water rafting adventure. Along with a river rafting trip, there are great accommodation options adjacent available. Under professional guidance, beginners and experts alike can experience hours of enjoyable and challenging adventures on the water.

One of the most popular rafting rivers is the Orange, which forms the country's northern border with Namibia. It's a long, green-fringed oasis running through the mountainous desert area known as the Richtersveld in the Northern Cape. Incredibly scenic, it also has a few fun rapids that will challenge rafters to keep their wits about them.

Probably the best in terms of scenery, as well as rapids, is the Blyde River in Mpumalanga Province (aptly named, as blyde means 'happiness' in Afrikaans). Running through a dazzlingly beautiful gorge, this deep turquoise-blue river offers constant action. The Sabie River in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, is another northern gem in SA, with lots of fun twists and turns.

The Vaal River, a tributary of the Orange RIver, has some fun and small rapids, situated very close to Johannesburg. It’s thus a popular destination for corporate trips or day outings. Also near Johannesburg, the Crocodile River offers a pleasant day of rafting with little and mildly challenging rapids.

South Coast Fun

©Roger de la Harpe
Rafting on the Umgeni River in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Umkomaas River on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast is a fantastic rafting option with fun, challenging but not too technical rapids. Just north of Durban, the Umgeni River has delightful little rapids and beautiful natural surroundings to explore. The section paddled is part of the gruelling three-day Dusi Marathon.

The Buffalo River used to be the border between the kingdom of Zululand and the British colony of Natal, and is located close to some fantastic historical sites. It’s a lovely river with challenging rapids. Standard trips are two days, with a range of accommodation options available.

Down in the Western Cape, the Palmiet River offers an amazing rafting experience in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. The trip offered takes one day and includes all meals and sometimes a visit to a winery.

By Carla Lottering