Vaal River

The Vaal is South Africa’s most popular river because it is just over an hour’s drive from the metropolis of Gauteng. You can do whitewater rafting as well as wilderness canoeing. No experience is needed on any route but read the route notes on the linked pages below to see what would suit you.  SEE VIDEOS


  Our Vaal Whitewater Routes

  • Bumper Run – Hectic Harry via Tokoloshe to Otters’ Haunt. Class 3+.
  • Otters’ Playground – Otters’ Haunt via Big Daddy to Blydskap. Class 2-3.
  • Drama Tour – Blydskap to LookSharp to Gatsien and sometimes Knucklecrusher. Class 3+.
  • The Full Works – only at high water over 200cumecs, mainly midsummer. Class 3-4.
  • Raft-Camping – 2 or 3 days downriver, camping at secluded spots
  • Vaal Tubing – mild, medium or wild, pick your level


 Vaal whitewater is generally classed 2+ on a scale of 1 (easy) to 6 (likely to be fatal).  The Vaal is generally 1-2-3. There are plenty of exciting rapids.  It’s not the Zambezi (Class 3-5) but it is thrilling and beautiful, with the river tumbling down channels between bushy islands.

Rafting routes are either halfday (3,5 hours) or combined to make full day (6,5-hour) trips. We offer a combination of 2-seater Croc rafts and 4-8 seater guided inflatables for families and the not-so-confident.

Never underestimate the Vaal. Although it is generally imagined as a wide, slow-flowing river with few rapids, it does have whitewater all year long around Parys – and when the river is up it can produce huge waves and boat-eating holes.

Our videos which capture the moods of the river show how it various from season to season. Best whitewater is usually from December to Easter. The river can rise suddenly at other times due to rain or dam releases, so stay in touch with us via our Whitewater Watch List.

Vaal wilderness canoeing and family floatalongs take place among the islands, which offer a wonderful experience of nature. The river is unique in being the only major river on earth to flow through an impact crater (the Vredefort Dome). The underlying geology creates

Easy paddling for young and old

Easy paddling for young and old

hundreds of small islands which are a haven for waterbirds including kingfishers, cormorants, darters, fish eagles, and spoonbills.

Otters inhabit the pools. Vervet monkeys and porcupines live on the islands. The canoeing generally takes 2-3 hours. You may hire  a canoe and/or go with a guide who knows the ecology and will tell you about the remarkable history of the Vaal, one of the world’s most ancient rivers.

Read on below the routes list for explanation and what to expect.


WHEN TO COME: The Vaal is always fun and beautiful, all year round. Best whitewater is likely between mid-November and April, during the rainy season. For high water alerts, join our Whitewater Watch List. The raft floatalong and Malachite wilderness canoeing are possible at all times excepting very high water.

DAYS: Saturdays during summer are often crowded on the river. We know every channel on the Vaal and take special precautions on holidays and busy Saturdays to avoid the crowds, but we do recommend Sundays for those who love a quieter experience in nature.

HALF-DAY:  Normally 08h30-12h30 with refreshments.

FULL DAY: Normally 08h30-15h30 with a delicious picnic lunch.

COMBINATIONS: The following routes are half-day but can be combined to make full day trips.

BRAAI OPTION: No alcohol is allowed on river. Ask for a quote if you wish to do a trip and end with a braai & bar back at Otters’ Haunt base.

CHILDREN: Children 8-12 can join trips B or D provided they are on a craft paddled by a guide. Teenagers can take part in the full whitewater experience.

DISCOUNTS: All groups are offered discounts. Because children require more safety supervision, there is no child discount. But ask about family, school and student group discounts. In any booked group of 10, we add one extra free place.

RIVER LEVELS: River flow is measured in cubic metres a second called cumecs, cm3. We keep a close watch on Vaal Dam and Barrage releases. Normally about 20cu reach us, but as soon as the rains begin the river picks up. From 30cu and above whitewater is great (more water = less rocks!) . Once the flow reaches 150cu or above we up the Class of the rapids by one, making a normal Class 2 a 3 and so on. We cut off around 800cu. The river can reach 3000cu in flood.

BOATS: RIVERMAN is unique in offering all kinds of whitewater boats for the best options in paddling. We use 2-seater paddle-yourself “Crocs” (originally designed by our lead guide, Graeme Addison) as well as 4-6 seater guided inflatables for the less brave or families. All types of raft give a great ride and you can choose the go-it-alone option too, using a Croc as a single seater. As a load boat on expeditions and as a passenger boat on day trips we also use an oar-raft rowed by a single guide with people along for the ride. Finally, we are introducing 1- and 2-seater catamaran inflatables (“Cats”) for those who want more of a challenge. In high water when there are no rocks, we offer Stand-Up Paddle boards (Sups) for the truly adventurous.

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera