WW kayaking guide to rivers in South Africa

Sabie / Section U2 / Mpumalanga / South Africa

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Sabie River – Upper, upper Sabie (U2)

Sabie River – U2
Grading IV+/- (V- for high flows)
Levels / gauges Sabie @ Emmet & Sabie @ Sabie (Inkomati)Low – 7 to 14Medium – 15 to 25

High – 26 – 30

Pumping – 40

Put-in 25° 3’45.73″S ; 30°54’28.27″E
Take-out 25° 2’22.20″S ; 30°57’35.63″E
Estimated time 5 hrs
Length 8.5km (7.4km)
Gradient 20m/km
Portages Yes
Hazards / Notes Logs
Fun factor 4 / 5

The U2 holds water well and is a good bet if water is low in the area.  This section can be paddled in mid winter with flows of around 5m3/s.  High flows for this section is considered 25 to 30 m3/s and things start getting a bit more interesting at flows higher than 40m3/s.

The put-in is at low level bridge next to the Sabie/Hazyview road.  The first 2km is pretty flat and an easy warm-up.  The actions starts with a slide rapid leading into a 90 degree bend to the left in the river.  All the rapids are easy to scout from your boat or jump out and have a look.  The first major obstacle is a log jammed waterfall (3m).  Best way to spot it is when the gradient starts picking up and the river gets a bit more continues in terms of bigger rapids.  When the water is up, watch out not to try and catch the eddy just above the falls since this gets smaller and pushier.  Have a look at the drop.  There are runnable lines and it all depends on whether there are logs or not.  If you portage, seal launch from the side of the rock shelve.  The rapid immediately after the portage is worth having a look at.  The line is towards the right and the shoot back to the left.  Check for logs in this rapid.

From here the section starts being worth it.  The big slide is around half way.  Run on the left or try the gutter run from right to left if the line is open.  The big slide follows into double drop which can dish on the day.  The big rapid of the section is Hugh-twice.  Best way to spot this is for a large boulder in the river (roughly 3m tall).  You can run the first two parts of the rapid and eddy out above the main section to have a look.  Two things to look out for: logs and the siphon on the right at the end of the rapid (set-up safety for this one).

After Hugh-twice there are two gutter rapids that should be scouted on lower levels (both rapids’ line are from right to left).  After the last gutter rapid you will get to a bridge.  Do not use this as take-out since the land owners get pissed-off.  The rapid after the bridge, you need to hug the right hand back.  From here you will get Jeff’s rapid and then Lock-stock-and-two-smoking-barrels.  Set-up safety at the middle pour-over, this can end up in a nasty swim.  Siphon falls has two lines.  The normal line is down the falls on the left and the other is a slide river right when the water is super high.  The take-out is either at Siphon falls or less than 1km downstream on the right.


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