Canyoning, as it is called in most parts of the world, or Kloofing in South Africa, is a sport consisting of following a mountain stream up/down its course by climbing, sliding, jumping and swimming.
The Cape mountains, warm climate, cold mountain water and hard quartz sandstone have come together to form the unique river gorges and valleys which make great kloofing possible. In South Africa the sport started in the Western Cape.
By its very nature, kloofing takes place in a relatively high risk area, a river gorge, mostly where there are no development or roads, only you and nature. Seeing as the whole point of kloofing, really, is to leap over gorges and jump off waterfalls or cliffs into pools, with no help or first aid (or sometimes even cellphone coverage) it can be a very dangerous sport.
One part of kloofing that's especially exciting for the adrenaline junkies is the fact that most kloofing or canyoning trips involve a point of no return, where you have to jump or stay stuck in the middle of nowhere. Some kloofs, or canyons, may also include a bit of scrambling and perhaps an abseil or two.
If you really know what you're doing, you can do this on your own but kloofing is best done with a knowledgeable guide or at least someone who's done the river before.
Mostly kloofing is a one-day trip up and down a river gorge, the multi-day trips are less popular, probably because most people can't climb and swim continually for more than one day.
The most popular kloof in the Western Cape is probably Suicide Gorge in the Riviersonderend mountains near Grabouw, with a highest jump of 18m and compulsory jumps of 7m-8m. The trail distance is approximately 17km (8 hours) with five groups of 6 people allowed over weekends. Groups of 12-15 allowed on weekdays.
Die Hel is a famous pool in the Groot Winterhoek mountains (near Porterville), the biggest and best rock pool in the Western Cape, surrounded by cliffs and a large waterfall. It's about a 15km hike to this point, so you should plan to camp out or spend the night in De Tronk or another hut in the area.
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In KwaZulu-Natal, the Mfongosi River, near Eshowe, is renowned for very high, very steep rockslides, quite an adrenaline rush.
The Sabie River, near the Mpumalanga town of Sabie, is the site of a couple of fun, escorted kloofing trips. Contact Induna Adventures at Tel: 013 737 8308 or Cell: 082 463 2334
There are also some self-guided kloofing or canyoning trips in the Drakensberg.