The Best White Water Rafting Rivers Near Me!

The best white water rafting or river rafting in South Africa! South Africa’s landscapes are sculpted by magnificent rivers. Some are great beasts of moving water, like South Africa’s longest- The Orange River. Others, like the Tugela in KwaZulu- Natal, tumble picturesquely through steep mountain terrain slamming around boulders and dropping over falls. White water rafting has been a popular activity in South Africa for many years which is not surprising as a rafting trip is by far the best way to explore these rivers and the stunning environments that they move through.

Our Dirty Boots team have selected the Top 10 White Water Rafting destinations in South Africa with the most important criteria being natural beauty and professionalism of the operators in the area.  Let us help you choose the white water or river rafting trip that best suits your itinerary and location so that planning your next adventure holiday is a breeze.

The Best White Water Rafting Rivers Near Me - South Africa

1. The Orange River
This is a classic white water rafting river offering the full spectrum of rapids from the minor ripples of class 1 to raging maelstroms which are best portaged (unless you’re a pro). The most popular section of the Orange River for paddling trips is where it winds through the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape. Here the earth tones of the desert landscape lie in vivid contrast to the green and blues of the Orange River - a miraculous paring. The Orange River is, without doubt, the birth place of multi-day river rafting adventures in South Africa

2. The Ash River
The Ash River was a tiny stream until it was appropriated by the Lesotho Highlands Project as a discharge point. Now it’s a fun, fast river with water shunting along its course through all the seasons and more than enough capacity for a wild white water rafting ride. It pumps through the picturesque grassed landscape of the Free State. The nearest habitation is the lovely little town of Clarens, an ideal place to hang out in after your Ash River adventure.

River Rafting on the Umzimkulu River - The Best White Water Rafting Rivers, South Africa

3. The Umzimkulu River, Oribi Gorge
Experience the verdant beauty of the South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal from the exciting perspective of a raft as it leaps and plunges down the Umzimkulu River.  White water rafting companies operate on the 24km stretch of river that slices through the spectacular Oribi Gorge. And wherever there are rocky gorges, there are rapids and if you’re up for wild, this is the white water rafting destination for you. 

4. The Doring River
The dry and dramatic landscape, foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, that the Doring River passes through is a nature lovers dream come true. This winter, and early spring run river offers spicy rapids with pristine camping along its banks. In spring, wildflowers transform the arid veld into a wonderland and the nearby town of Clanwilliam bursts into life as flower hunters’ stream into the area. This is an absolute favourite destination for South African white water paddlers. 

The Sabie River - The Best White Water Rafting Rivers, South Africa

5. The Sabie River
Another fun river with excellent water quality close to other ‘must visit’ destinations in Mpumalanga like the Kruger National Park and Gods Window. Lush indigenous forest and bird song follow you down the Sabie River Gorge as you tackle grade 2 and 3 rapids under the watchful eye of professional river guides.

6. The Blyde River
The Blyde River in Mpumalanga gives its name to the second largest canyon in Africa and its crystal clear torrents tumble down seriously steep gradients forming 8-kilometers of rapids that are not for the faint hearted.  Experienced white water rafting companies, based in Hazyview, will guide you safely through this maze of water, providing you with all the necessary safety equipment and expert instruction. For the adventurous, this is the best way to view the beautiful Blyde River Canyon.

The Vaal River - The Best White Water Rafting Rivers Near Me, South Africa

7. The Vaal River
The Vaal is not the first river you think of when dreaming of white water rafting but it has some surprisingly lively stretches - it is after all one of South Africa’s fastest flowing rivers - and its proximity to Johannesburg makes it a great choice for adventurers needing a mini-break from the big smoke. Trips out of Parys, make use of the section of the Vaal that goes through the Vredefort Dome - a UNESCO World Heritage site. This fascinating confluence of an ancient river with an ancient meteorite impact site adds to the richness of the experience.

8. The Tugela River
A wild river and a top choice for those who love total immersion in wilderness. The Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal rises out of the mighty Drakensberg range so you wouldn’t expect anything less dramatic than this boisterous water way, tumbling over age-smoothed boulders, with its stunning back drop of mountains. Both day trips and long multi-day white water rafting trips are on offer.

The Tugela River - The Best White Water Rafting Near Me, South Africa

9. The Crocodile River
A feisty river right at the doorstep of both Johannesburg and Pretoria. A short drive will get you to your launch site on the Crocodile River and you will soon have a sense of being in a remote and wild place. Rainy season - October to March - will add to the white water fun, but there’s plenty to enjoy all year round including an abundant bird life.

10. The Breede River
The Breede River snakes its way through the beautiful fruit and wine producing Breede River Valley which is flanked by the stunning Cape Fold Mountains. Some of the earliest South African river rafting adventure offerings began on this lovely river. Beautifully developed river camps add to the appeal of these trips. While its not the wildest of white water rivers, it has some fun sections and being only two hours’ drive from Cape Town, is a great rafting destination for the whole family. 

The Breede River - The Best White Water Rafting Rivers Near Me, South Africa

11. The Umkomaas River
You could say that the Umkomaas, in the KwaZulu-natal South Coast area, is the sting in the tail of the dragon, since it has its origins in the mighty Drakensberg and it’s a river that produces some formidable white water, especially after rain. Some of the countries best river guides operate in this region so you can happily sign on to a white water rafting trip on the Umkomaas, secure in the knowledge that you are in good hands.