WW kayaking guide to rivers in South Africa


Herbertsdale Section / Gouritz River / Garden Route / South Africa

Gouritz River – Herbertsdale Section

Gouritz River : Herbertsdale Section

Grading  II to III+
Levels / gauges None.  Rainfall dependant so check the weather predictions.  It needs to rain for a substantial amount of time.  One way of checking if the N2 passing over the Gouritz outside of Mosselbay
Put-in 33° 54.532’S ; 21° 39.145’E
Take-out 33° 58.835’S ; 21° 39.275’E
Estimated time 1.5hr to 3hrs
Length 9km
Gradient 5m/km
Portages None
Hazards / Notes Short isolated gorge
Fun factor 3 / 5

Although this section is pretty flat in terms of white water, the section of river runs through an awesome gorge.  The section is pretty short, but the logistics can take most of the day since the put-in ad take-out is off the normal road and the drive around is a bit more than the length paddled.  So make it a day mission and have a picnic at the put-in and then paddle the gorge section.  The section is also perfect for rafts (2-man) and the rapids are pretty straight forward.


The put-in is located on the R327 between Herbertsdale and Ladismith (about 30km outside of Herbertsdale).  The take-out is on the road from Herbertsdale to Albertinia (driving south out of Herbertsdale it will be on your right – going west).  The take-out is at a bridge crossing the Gouritz River.

The rapids on the section are towards the start and there are basically four notable rapids on the section.  They are easy to negotiate and you can scout them from the side if need be. Once you go into the gorge, take is easy and enjoy the scenery.


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Montagu Pass / Keur River / Garden Route / South Africa

Keur River – Montagu Pass George

Keur River : Montagu Pass

Grading  III+ to IV
Levels / gauges None.  Rainfall dependant so check the weather predictions.  You can drive to the lower water bridge at the take-out and check if it is properly overflowing.  Small catchment so you need to get it during or straight after rains.
Put-in 33° 54.409’S ; 22° 25.114’E
Take-out 33° 56.261’S ; 22° 25.313’E
Estimated time 1.5hr to 3hrs
Length 5km
Gradient 25m/km
Portages One (maybe two)
Hazards / Notes Siphons / Undercuts / Logs
Fun factor 3 / 5

The put-in for the section is on the Montagu pass where the pass crosses the river of a high bridge and then continues up the valley.  The take-out is after the lime works at a low level bridge.  The low level bridge can be used as a visual level marker with water needing to flow over the bridge by at least a foot and a bit for this section to work.

There are no gauges for this river and you need to check the rainfall predictions for the area and jump on it if it looks like good and solid rain for at least a full day or two.  The catchment is super small and you run the risk of sitting in a low river bed if you get your timing wrong.  Be careful of possible flash flood since the catchment is small and super steep.

The section has a lot of tree growth on the banks.  This causes the river to be pretty continues with little eddies with not a lot of space for more than one boater.  Check for tree blocks especially if there have been high flows.

The portage, pending scouting and water levels, are the first big drop that you will encounter.  The river falls into a slot and shoots 90degrees to the left. This is about 800m into the run.  The river runs next to the Montagu pass; however it is pretty tough scouting the river from the road due to steep banks and vegetation.  Towards the end of run and at the lime works the action starts picking up again.  The marker for the start of this is a low level crossing.  Straight after this is a short slide.  You can generally scout the rapids on this section from the right-hand bank.

If you are not familiar with this run, do it earlier in the day since it can turn into a mission if you have to exit the trip.  If you have to cut the trip short, get out on the right-hand bank and check for forestry roads leading back up to the pass.