White water rafting in South Africa happens mainly in the rainy seasons, which is winter for the Western Cape and summer for everywhere else. It is best to do a trip with an experienced company.
There is a number of safety aspects to take into account when sourcing the best company to book with. You must be sure that the guides are experienced - both on and off the water; that the company has the necessary medical insurances; and of course that they are delivering what you have been promised.
The best rivers for white water rafting are the Tugela River (upper Tugela near Weenen), the Buffalo river (accessed from Dundee), and the Umkomaas (near Hela Hela and Bulwer), of which the biggest wildwater in South Africa is the Tugela. These rivers are only runnable in summer.
A number of popular canoe marathons are also run during the year, namely the 50 Miler on the Umsindusi and Umgeni Rivers (December) the Dusi Canoe Marathon (January), the Drakensberg Challenge on the Umzimkulu (March), the Umkomaas Marathon (February) and Tugela Marathon (March). Overnights are spent camping on the banks of the rivers.
The best summer rivers in Limpopo are the Olifants and the Mutale.
The Blyde River is an 8-km descent with grade 3 to 5 rapids. It is runnable throughout the year, but highest in summer. As well as a very challenging white water section, the Blyde has a nice gentle stretch suitable for families.
The Sabie River also offers some mild rapids.
Contact Induna Adventures at Tel: 013 737 8308 or Cell: 082 463 2334.
The Crocodile River and the Vaal River, both near Johannesburg, offer either very gentle or not-so-gentle rafting, depending on the water level.
Contact Vaal Rafting at Tel - 011 956 6307 for trips on the Vaal River.
The Ash River, near the small town of Clarens, is the most dependable white water river - courtesy of the Lesotho Highlands Water Projects, which releases water on a regular basis. There is also a family-friendly bird watching trip on a different part of the same river.
The Orange River, on the border of South Africa and Namibia, has some serious white water sections. It also has long, flat scenic stretches that are suitable for families though, with fun rapids that can be walked round if you're nervous.
Sleep under the stars and make this the ultimate family trip!
Day and multi-day trips on the Kraai River in Barkly East that can be combined with other activities to form a multi-day adventure trail. Options include hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.
In the Western Cape, the Doring river, which runs through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, is a great snow-melt river that offers great spring paddling. It runs from about late August or September.
The Palmiet is runnable all year, but is far more rewarding in winter.
There are also occasional trips on the Molenaars, which is a very technical run, but only directly after heavy rain in its catchment area, which makes it a difficult trip to plan. The Breede River, near Cape Town is runnable all year, and offers mild rapids.