WW kayaking guide to rivers in South Africa

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Dante’s Falls / Elands River / Mpumalanga / South Africa

    Elands Rivers – Dante’s Falls

Dante’s Falls – Elands River

Grading It’s a waterfall (IV+ to V)
Levels / gauges Elands @ Lindenau (Inkomati)

Low: 5 – 12m3/s

Medium: 12 – 20m3/s

High: 20m3/s and up

Take the levels with a pinch of salt and go check it out.  If the water at the top drop is overflowing on river left it is considered a lower level.  If the water is overflowing over the whole drop (this means no rocks are visible on the first drop – second ledge) then it is on the high side.

Turn-off from highway 25°28’49.32″S ; 30°42’5.84″E
Put-in  / Take-out 25°28’40.14″S ; 30°42’23.18″E
Estimated time Park & Huck
Length 0.25km
Gradient 70 – 80m/km (Waterfalls)
Portages None
Hazards / Notes Syphon / Cave
Fun factor 5 / 5

Dante’s Falls (Dante’s Inferno) is located alongside the busy N4 route between Waterfallonder and Nelspruit.  It is a perfect park and huck on your way to or from another river.  It is important to note that you will likely spend anything from 2 to 5hrs scouting, setting up safety and getting into position for photos.  Don’t underestimate you time you will spend here if it is your first time.  Leave enough daylight for if something may go wrong.  The grading of a waterfall is pretty hard.  The first drop is not that difficult, but the second one does carry some consequences.

The section consists of two channels of which the river left channel is the one to paddle.  It two drops.  The first one is a double drop totalling 7m in height.  The second drop is between 10m and 12m high.  Access to the waterfalls is hidden away next to the N4.  Best to describe it is if you are coming from Nelspruit:

Passing Montrose (the Schoemans Kloof road to the right), carry-on until the road-way forms a double lane and you need to keep in the left lane.  Just before the two lanes join, there will be a gap in the fence.  If it is high summer, then it is likely to be overgrown.  It is basically where a gate use to be and there is a road (see jeep track) that goes down to the river.  Following this jeep track and stop where it starts turning to the right and you are pretty much under the power cables.  Walk straight ahead towards the noise of the falls and start scouting.

There is an old irrigation ditch that you cross (on foot) and then you get to the gorge.  From the N4 it is about 500m to the gorge.  The first drop is easy to scout and the line is pretty straight forward.  Get in on river left and paddle the first drop.  Set-up safety in the pool below, but make sure to notice the syphon in the middle of the river where the entry to the next fall starts.  When the water is low, it is open.  When it is pumping, it will be concealed.  It is easy to avoid though, but don’t make the error when rescuing someone to pull them towards it.

The second drop can be scouted from the first drop’s finishing pool.  That will give you an idea of the entry.  If the water is low/medium you can go right and against the cliff wall.  If the water is on the high side, you can sneak past on the left.  Scouting the second falls from the bottom will require you to walk a bit further downstream.  Check where you can set-up safety.  The trick with the second waterfall is the cave / overhang at the back of the falls.  If you get washed to the right and into the pocket to the right and back of the falls, you will have a hard time getting out and even a worse time if you are out of your boat.  Rescue options to get someone out are from the right-hand bank.

Luckily most of the water tends to flow out and away from the second fall and from the pocket/cave.  The best line is debatable, but it seems that keeping a right to left direction at the top of the falls does the trick.  This waterfall is rewarding and the scenery is pretty awesome so close to the highway.


Bazooka test paddle

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So I got my hands on a medium Bazooka, the new creek boat from Fluid kayaks. Decided to take it along to the lowveld and paddle the U3/U2 of the Sabie and huck the Elands drops (Dante’s). Will put together a short review of the boat in the next two weeks.

For Dante’s drop. The video shows the lines on a low side of medium level. Note that the set-up of safety below the second drop is super difficult. The water pushes you to the left, but there is an off chances that you can end up on the right. There is a huge cave behind the falls and paddling past the boils can be tricky. You will probably need a safety from the top on the right and then a boat in the water.