WW kayaking guide to rivers in South Africa

Gatsien Jam Session / Vaal River / Freestate / South Africa

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Short video of Gatsien wave located about 15km out of Parys on the Vaal River. Water level for this clip is between 70cumecs to 100cumecs.

Access is gained via Stonehenge Adventures (Access is about R15).


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Vredefort Dome / Vaal River / Free State / South Africa

Vaal River – Dimalachite/Hadeda Creek to Venterskroon/Schoemansdrift (Vredefort Dome)

Vredefort Dome Section : Vaal River (Touring)

Grading I to II (mostly flat)
Levels / gauges Vaal @ Goosebay Canyon (Upper Vaal)Vaal @ Schoemansdrift (Upper Vaal)

Low – less than 30 cumecs

Medium – 30 to 50

Medium-high – 50 to 100

High – 100 and up


Put-in 26°54’11.73″S; 27°22’5.86″E (Dimalachite)26°53’2.38″S; 27°21’22.23″E (Hadeda Creek)
Take-out 26°53’16.45″S ; 27°16’4.39″E (Venterskroon)26°58’15.19″S ; 27°12’40.48″E (Schoemansdrift)
Estimated time 2hrs to 6hrs
Length 16km to Venterskroon31km to Schoemansdrift
Gradient Less than 5m/km (Flat)
Portages None
Hazards / Notes Shallow / Weir
Fun factor 3 / 5

This section is meant for tour boats and K1/K2 river paddlers.  The scenery is pretty cool since you paddle through the heart of the Vredefort Dome.  Go check out some details on the Vredefort Dome at: http://www.vredefortdome.org/.

The paddle can either a 31km long flat paddle (few rapids) or could be split into an easy two day touring trip with a stopover in Venterskroon.  The section, although flat, has some great birdlife and you are likely to see Goliath Herons and Fish Eagles on this section.

To get to the put-in, drive towards Vredefort out of Parys.  Take the Schoemansdrift Road (the first proper turn-off outside of Parys) and carry on with this road until it becomes a dirt road.  Dimalachite is along this road and will be on your right.  They do camping and general day access, but the first kilometre is pretty shallow with several channels.  Keep left for the first two kilometres.  Hadeda Creek is further down the road and you cut-out a section of shallow channels, but they do not do general day access and they are likely to charge you in the region of R100 per boat to launch from there.

To get to Venterkroon, drive back into Parys and follow the signs to Potchefstroom. Get on the R53 and continue towards Potchefstroom.  About 10km outside of Parys you will see signs that indicate a dirt road towards Venterskroon on your left.  Take this road and continue until Venterskroon.  You will be able to see the river on your left.

To get to Schoemansdrift, continue with the Schoemansdrift road.  Turn right at the t-junction after Dimalachite and continue until you get to another t-junction.  Again, turn right and continue with the road for about 6km and you will find road to your right and Schoemansdrift.  If you need to get from Venterskroon to Schoemansdrift, then continue with the Venterskroon road.  After Venterskroon you will start to climb a big hill.  Follow the road over the hill and at the bottom of the hill there is an intersection (after a low level bridge).  Turn left here and follows the road to t-junction, turns left again and follows the road (tarred) towards Schoemansdrift.

The section is mostly flat.  The first 2km are shallow channels and gets better with water levels closer to 50cumecs.  For the first 2km keep left mostly where there is a split.  After that the main flows are right.  The only rapid worth mentioning is about 6.5km from the put-ins.   The rapid is straight forward and falls into the II+ range.

From here it is pretty much flat.  For the take-out at Venterskroon, you need to organise access.   Get in touch with http://www.safarinow.com/destinations/venterskroon/Restaurants/The-Old-Imperial-Inn.aspx.  They serve great food and got local beer on tap.  There are several accommodation options in Venterkroon if you plan to split the trip into a two day touring paddle.

The section from Venterskroon to Schoemansdrift is flat.  The last obstacle is a weir located 50m before the Schoemansdrift Bridge.  Always scout this and portage when required (Weirs are nasty man-made hazards and should be treated with caution).

Below are some pics from the section: