If your idea of an awesome holiday involves climbing into an inflatable boat and speeding down a raging river, then South Africa is the place to be! SA is home to an array of exciting torrential rivers that are perfect for white water rafting. These churning waterways are ideal for adventure travel enthusiasts looking for a thrilling experience.
However, not all of these rivers are exclusively reserved for white water rafting pros. Many of SA's waterways are perfect for amateurs who are just looking to dip their toes into the adventure travel waters. Here's a collection of some of the country's best white water rafting destinations (this is part one in the series, so make sure you check back for the next edition)
1. Orange River Richtersveld
The Orange River (or Gariep River as it is known to the local Nama people) is the country's longest watercourse. Stretching for 2200 kilometres, the river flows westward through South Africa from the Drakensberg Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
White water rafting on the Orange River is offered in the Northern Cape amongst the unique topography of the remote Richtersveld.
2. Vaal River, Gauteng
The Vaal River is the longest tributary of the Orange and it stretches for about 1120 kilometres from the Mpumalanga mountains through Gauteng and finally to the Northern Cape where it joins with the Orange River.
The small town of Parys in the Northern Free State approximately an hour's drive from Johannesburg is the base for most of the white water rafting on the Vaal River. Travel operators offer something for everyone from morning trips to longer overnight adventure travel experiences. The Vaal River is also great for team-building exercises.
3. Palmiet River, Western Cape
Snaking through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve about an hour's drive from Cape Town is the beautiful Palmiet River – a white water rafting wonderland. The river is relatively calm in summer; however, winter rainfall turns the timid watercourse into an adrenaline-filled joyride ideal for adventure travel seekers.
Spend a day winding your way down this exciting waterway and maybe even spend the night in the stunning Kogelberg Nature Reserve. For the more experienced, the Molenaars is a technical white water rafting run that can only be done after heavy rains.
4. Umkomaas River, KwaZulu-Natal
The Umkomaas River stretches from the Drakensberg Mountains through the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal before finally entering the Indian Ocean southwest of Durban. It offers some fun and challenging white water rafting that's sure to get the blood pumping.
Most of the white water rafting options on the Umkomaas River begin at Hella Hella about 95 kilometres from Durban and 65 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg. Single and multi-day trips are available.
5. Buffalo River, KwaZulu-Natal
In a little corner of KZN's Zululand approximately three and half hours from Durban, adventure travel seekers will find some of the most exhilarating white water rafting in South Africa. The Buffalo River, opened in 1993 for white water rafting enthusiasts, twists and turns for about 19 kilometres through private game farms and gorgeous scenery.
Single or multiday rafting trips are on offer. Make sure you're on the lookout for the splendid bird and animal life along the river banks.
So, make sure you jump in and explore the top white water rafting destinations in South Africa from the Orange River to the Buffalo. SA is the ideal adventure travel destination for all those looking for a thrill.