Our trips

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Learn about river grading – the classes of rapids.

What we offer:

  • Local day trips and overnighters close to Johannesburg (Vaal River, class 2-3)
  • Longer trips and expeditions in the Cape and Zululand (Tugela, Orange and Doring Rivers, classes 2-4)
  • River proficiency courses in boating, safety and rescue (Various rivers, classes 2-4)

Our trips and courses are for everyone no matter what age and level of experience. We’re here to make river-running pleasurable and exciting for the average person, and to help adventurers hone their skills.

There’s an ancient truth about rivers. You can never cross the same river twice. The water is flowing and it’s always a new river. All paddlers know that the day you choose to run a river is unique for you and for the river. So set out to savour and remember the trip, whatever the level, high or low.

South Africa has marvellous rivers for touring, camping out and running the rapids. The rivers on which RIVERMAN mostly operates are –

  • The Vaal, 1 hour from Johannesburg. Go here.
  • The Orange, 1 day from both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Go here.
  • The Tugela, 4 hours from Johannesburg and 2 hours from Durban. Go here.
  • The Doring, 2 hours from Cape Town. Go here.
  • River Proficiency and Guide training courses. Go here.
  • We also do other rivers on demand, including expeditions on little-known rivers. Go here.

Rivers are not all the same. Moving water always behaves according to the laws of fluid dynamics, but because of the climate, lie of the land, geology, and human impact on the channel, every river develops its own unique personality.

The three greatest rivers of South Africa – the Orange, Tugela and Vaal, in that order – are fed by the rains that fall in the eastern half of the country. South Africa consists of a high plateau (the highveld) which tends to be more and more arid the further west you go. The Vaal and Orange rivers are long and flat, covering great distances, occasionally dropping sharply over falls and big rapids. The landscape starts green and ends as desert at the Atlantic Coast. The scenery is superb: huge bare mountains come down to the edge of the water. On the Eastern and Southern sides of South Africa, steep rivers flow off the escarpment down the well-watered slopes and soon enter the warm Indian Ocean.  Rivers like the Tugela are relatively short and steep, with many rapids and much excitement to offer.

The Tugela is a steep easterward flowing river which peaks in midsummer (November to March) with its roaring brown waters carving deep canyons in the green landscape of KwaZulu-Natal. Here we run 2-4-day wildwater rafting trips, often based at a remote lodge that can only be reached on a 35km 4×4 route. The Tugela flows 350km eastwards to the Indian Ocean, offering plenty of routes for rafters.

The Orange meanwhile flows westward, some 2200 km to the Atlantic. Both the Orange and the Tugela rise in the same marshy patch of high ground in the Drakensberg at Mont Aux Sources, then divide and go their ways. The Orange flows right across the subcontinent, east to west, and becomes the “Nile of South Africa” as it crosses the Kalahari and Namib deserts.

The Vaal, 1200km, also benefits from eastern rainfall, joins the Orange about halfway down its course. Together, these two rivers drain almost two-thirds of the interior of South Africa. We do 4-day whitewater safaris on the Orange in the Kalahari, and half-day, full day and 2-day camp out trips on the Vaal near Parys.

Other rivers on which you will find us include the Doring in the Cape Cederberg – a beautiful seasonal river depending on winter rain and snow in the Cape Cederberg; and sometimes the Olifants (Limpopo Province); and Mkomazi and Mzimkulu rivers (KwaZulu-Natal). We’re always ready to explore a new river or establish a new route!


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