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CANOEING & KAYAKING – general information
Paddling can be broken down into the following disciplines:
• Swiftwater (flowing water with rapids in rivers)
• Flatwater (lakes, estuaries with no rapids or tidal currents)
• Sea kayaking (coastal paddling including river & estuary mouths).
Kayaking and Canoeing are governed by the (APA). APA (African Paddling association) is a voluntary, not for profit association that was formed to represent the interests of the commercial paddling industry in Southern Africa. Initially, the industry consisted mostly of river operators and so the emphasis was largely on the swiftwater sector at the start. Since then, the commercial paddling industry has grown to include flatwater (trips offered on dams, lakes, estuaries etc.) and sea kayaking (coastal waters). APA has expanded its efforts to include these disciplines as well.
Our main focus has been on developing industry recognised standards regarding safety and best practice with regard to the running of commercial paddling trips. To this end, a system of guide training and qualifications has been developed and accredited training centres have been appointed to offer this training. APA oversee’s the guide assessments through the National Office in Cape Town. Guide qualification systems currently exist for all three classification types
In addition, there are APA accredited courses aimed at canoeists and adventure racers. We have developed various safety recommendations and guidelines aimed at operators to advise them on best practice within the industry.
If you’re looking for white water rafting, the best summer rivers are the Tugela, Buffalo and Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Olifants and the Mutale in Limpopo. The Blyde in Mpumalanga, which is runnable throughout the year, is also highest in summer. As well as a very challenging white water section, the Blyde has a nice gentle stretch suitable for families.
In the Eastern Cape the NUKAKAMMA canoe trail has been the first canoe trail to receive Green Flag Accredtitation status in South Africa.
In the Western Cape, the Doring is a great snow-melt river that offers great spring paddling. It’s been very erratic over the last few years, but it may just start operating soon. The Palmiet is runnable all year, but is far more rewarding in winter, and there are occasional trips on the Molenaars, but only directly after heavy rain in its catchment area.
Dusi Marathon The Ash River, near the small town of Clarens, in the Free State, 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.
There are some serious white water sections on the Orange River, but it also has more scenic trips, that are suitable for families. It is popular amongst school groups for recreation, team building and outdoor education.
The Great Usutu River in Swaziland offers really good white water for most of the year, but it’s best in summer, and the Kunene River, on the border of Namibia and Angola is an absolutely fabulous river, with awesome scenery, stupendous rapids and a real wilderness feel. But, of course, the Grand-daddy of them all is the Zambezi, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The white water rafting in the Batoka Gorge is reputed to the best one day rafting trip in the world. This is big stuff.
For absolutely flat water, the Lower Zambezi, which runs through the Lower Zambezi National Park of Zambia and the Mana Pools National Park of Zimbabwe, offers awesome canoeing safaris. Here you’ll see loads of game, dodge hippos and crocs and sleep in anything from a simple rough camp to a luxury tented camp. You can rent kayaks in the Wilderness National Park in the town of Wilderness on the Garden Route. Also on the Garden Route, the Keurbooms River, near Plettenberg Bay, is a lovely scenic paddle, with an overnight hut.
The Eastern Cape town of Port Alfred is at the mouth of the Kowie River, which is tidal and so offers easy paddling both ways if you plan it right. Like the Keurbooms, you can rent canoes and paddle up to an overnight hut. In KwaZulu-Natal, there is paddling in the St Lucia estuary, the Kosi Bay Lake system and the Pongolapoort Dam. There is a great, gentle bird-watching kayaking trip on the lagoon at Swakopmund in Namibia. Probably the best way to see Lake Malawi, which is virtually an inland sea, is by kayak. There is a great trip that consists of not-too-strenuous paddles between Paradise Island camps.
Sea Kayaking around Cape Point, Cape Town
With our fantastically long and varied coastline, it’s not surprising there are lots of great sea kayaking trips. Cape Town is a great place for sea kayaking, with regular trips on which you stand a good chance of seeing seals, dolphins, penguins and – perhaps a whale in the distance. There are two great sea kayaking venues, with operators, on the West Coast. These are Langebaan and the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve near the small fishing village of Paternoster. The sea kayaking operators in Plettenberg Bay, on the Garden Route have to work hard to stay the prescribed 300m from the southern right whales in season, as they are so curious. There’s loads more to see, including dolphins and seals.
There is a really great sea kayaking operation in Swakopmund in Namibia. Inhaca Island, in bay of Maputo in Mozambique, has a beautiful coastline with coral reefs and deep mangrove forests, so it’s a great place to paddle. And – further afield – kayaking trips visiting the tiny islands off Madagascar offer great tropical scenery, snorkelling and a real adventure experience.
Clarens Extreme Adventures offer fun river rafting trips on the Ash River.
Office: 058 256 1260
Mobile: 082 56 36 242