South Africa has some excellent rivers that are most suitable for canoeing and kayaking. The most popular of South Africa's rivers is the Orange River -- situated on the northern border with Namibia. The Orange River forms a long, green-fringed oasis that runs through the mountainous desert area known as the Richtersveld. Incredibly scenic, it also has a few great rapids.
The section below Augrabies Falls is similar, and there is a one-day rafting trip above Augrabies which features some exciting but not radical rapids. The Gorge section of the Orange is a lot more technical and has some good high-volume rapids.
The Vaal River, a major tributary of the Orange, has few rapids but it is very close to Johannesburg, so it's a popular destination for corporate trips. Also near Johannesburg, is the Crocodile River, which offers a pleasant days outing with some small and mildly challenging rapids.
The Doring River in the Western Cape has a short season towards the end of winter, and offers fantastic, quite technical white water, but it's pretty cold.
The Palmiet River is absolutely wonderful. It runs through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and offers fantastic technical rapids and wonderful scenery. The trip offered takes one day and includes all meals and sometimes a visit to a winery.
The Molenaars is a very technical, white water river that only works for a few days immediately after heavy rain in its catchment area, so it's not easy to plan a trip. The Sonderend River is a smallish river where you can do a fun day trip or overnighter.
There are two trips on the Breede River: a one day wine tasting trip near Worcester, which is really just an excuse to have a lovely picnic and sample some local wines, with a little bit of paddling thrown in. Lower down, near Swellendam, two-day trips are run on some small rapids and quite rocky sections. This section is used mainly for corporate trips.
There is some fun canoeing in the lakes area of the Garden Route, especially Wilderness and Knysna Lagoon. Other enjoyable flatwater trips include the two self-guided excursions near Port Alfred, one of which is up and down the conveniently tidal Kowie River. The other is a short paddle up the Kleinemond River to a wonderful overnight spot, called Kayak Camp.
Far more luxurious would be an escorted trip through the spectacularly beautiful and biologically unique Kosi Bay lake system. And, also in the Maputaland area of northern KwaZulu-Natal, there are fantastic escorted one-day trips on Lake St Lucia, where you may see crocodiles and hippos, and on Lake Bhangazi, also part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.
The Umkomaas River on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast offers fantastic paddling with some fun, challenging but not too technical rapids. Just north of Durban, the Umgeni has some excellent little rapids. The section paddled is part of the gruelling two-day Dusi Marathon.
The Buffalo River used to be the border between the kingdom of Zululand and the British colony of Natal and is near some fantastic historical sites. It's a great river with some quite challenging rapids. Standard trips are two days. The Buffalo is a tributary of the nearby Tugela River, which also has some pretty impressive white water with some very scary rapids indeed.
The Blyde River in Mpumalanga is probably one of the most beautiful rivers in South Africa - a somewhat hectic, technical alpine-style river with a steep gradient. A second trip on a tamer section of the same river is far easier, and the nearby Sabie River also offers an easy day out. The Olifants River, also close by, has some wonderful, big but not too technical rapids and also traverses some beautiful scenery.
Canoeing and kayaking in SA:
Eden Adventures are based in the Wilderness National Park and specialise in adventure tours of the area -- home to some awesome abseiling sites, unrivalled kloofing and stunning canoeing tours. Eden Adventures hire out canoes and mountain bikes for people wishing to do their own thing, arrange tailor-made tours of the area and offer a wide range of teambuilding packages.
Cape Sports Centre on the Langebaan Lagoon caters for kitesurfers, windsurfers, mountain bikers and kayakers. They sell and rent equipment, offer lessons and tips, and provide various adventure packages.
Coastal Kayak, based in Cape Town, is a sea kayaking outlet offering guided sea trips along the coast of South and East Africa. They also sell a range of kayaks and accessories.
Eastern Shores Kayak Safaris provides trips that give you a closer look at the riverine and lakeside aquatic life of the St Lucia Wetland Park.
Felix Unite River Trips offers a variety of river activities on the Orange and Breede rivers as well as overland safaris and tours.
Gravity Adventure Group runs somewhat more exclusive trips for small groups on the Orange (including the whitewater gorge section), the Doring, the Palmiet and the Molenaars, when conditions permit.
Infinity Marine’s Sea Kayaking offer package and custom sea-kayaking trips from the Wild Coast to Zanzibar.
Intrapid Rafting will take you on trips varying from the gentle to action-packed whitewater rafting. They run along the Orange River, Doring River, River of Milk and Honey, Enchanted River, Back of the Moon and Palmiet River.
Otters Den, a river lodge on an island in the Blyde River at the foot of the Drakensberg near the Kruger Park, offers whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, kayaking and abseiling.
PaddleYak Sea Kayak Store, located in Cape Town, offers sea kayak trips, tours, safaris and team building.
Wildthing Adventures operates on the Orange, Breede and Doring rivers.