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Half-day to 3 Day Rafting Trips on the Umkomaas River - KZN

Experience the thrill of rafting one of South Africa's best white water rivers: the Umkomaas , Zulu name 'Mkomazi' - "place of the cows". Situated in rural KwaZulu-Natal between Richmond and Creighton, the Umkomaas River offers warm, high-volume white water, interspersed with short pools to get your breath back and take in the beauty of its untouched valley and gorges.

The Umkomaas River originates in Giant’s Castle and follows a winding course down to the Indian Ocean. The white water rafting trips take place in a valley that lies just 95km from Durban and 65km from Pietermaritzburg. Summertime rafting on the Umkomaas is typically Grade 3, however when the mighty African thunderstorms unleash themselves on the Drakensburg, this becomes a fast flowing, high volume Grade 4 river. No previous rafting experience is necessary; however participants must be reasonably fit to handle the physical nature of the rafting.

Our river guides are amongst the most experienced white water paddlers in the country. With thousands of kilometres and years of local and international white water underneath them, their aim is to make your experience, in the sport that they love, safe and memorable.


Trip Duration Half-day trips to 3 Day Options
Daily Distances

Half Day: 5 km, Grade 2 - 3 Rapids.  Suitable for younger people, minimum 11 years. Great as part of a teambuilding package, school group trip, part of a bulls party package.

Day Trip: 12 km, Grade 3 - 4 Rapids. Suitable for fitter persons. Minimum age 16 years.  Includes light snacks, lunch and refreshments.

Multi-Day Trips:  2 Day - 25km, 3 Day - 35km. Grade 3 to 4 Rapids. Suitable for fitter outdoor enthusiasts. Minimum age 16 years.  
Trail Grading  
Physical Fitness No previous rafting experience required but moderate fitness required for full day & multi-day trips
Technicality Grade 2-3 Rapids on Half-day trips
Grade 3-4 Rapids on Full & Multi-Day trips
Trail Terrain The Umkomaas River is a big-volume river, and has been dubbed the most high-volume white water available south of the Zambezi. The Grade 3 rapids are a rollercoaster ride of huge waves, with few rocks to slow your momentum. This river is not very technically challenging, but it is also not a mellow float. For beginners, the Mkomazi is an exhilarating introduction.
Accommodation On multi-day trips, participants get a choice of expedition-style riverside camping (tents & gear provided) OR transferring back each day to Highover where you can overnight in backpacker-style lodgings or more upmarket private chalets.
Logistic Support Guiding, Transfers & all rafting equipment provided and included in price.
Catering: Snacks &/or lunch and refreshment will be provided on the half & full-day trips. All meals and soft-drinks are included on multi-day trips.
Tour Highlights From the bridge at Hella Hella to St Josephine's Bridge, the Umkomaas is a roller-coaster ride of high-volume rapids and big wave chains. Below St Josephine's Bridge the spectacular aloe-hung cliffs fall straight into the river. Expedition camping on the riverbanks makes one feel like an early pioneer.
Other Activities Paintball, Canyoning, Fishing, Hiking & Birding
Fauna & Flora The vegetation along the Umkomaas River is predominantly valley bushveld with some pockets of mistbelt forest. Birdlife is high amongst the wild fig trees and acacias. On your way down from Richmond you may be lucky enough to spot the endangered Blue Swallow which breeds in the upland grasses overlooking the valley. For 13 km, the Umkomaas river winds its way through the Duma Manzi Reserve, home to an incredible array of game species. Wildlife sightings here may include zebra, Blue Wildebeests, impalas, the White-Tailed Mongoose, and the clawless otter. White Rhino, buffalo, giraffe, and waterbuck were also introduced to the reserve in 2006.
Climate Rafting is only available during the wetter Summer months (Nov -April). Daytime temperature in the valley vary from 23 ◦C to over 40◦C. Evenings are typically warm, between 13 ◦C and 22 ◦C in summer.
Seasonality & Best Time Year

Rafting on the Umkomaas is ONLY available in mid-summer months (generally Nov – through to April) as the river level is highly dependent on rainfall in the catchment. The water is warm, and we seldom use splash jackets (though they are provided).

Group Size Minimum of 2 persons - maximum of 20 persons per group. More boats & guides can be organised if you are a large corporate group.
Price / PP Price dependent on Group Size, but indicative price for a group of 4 pax:

Half-Day Trip:   R550/pp
Includes light snack, refreshment & return transfer.

Full-Day Trip:   R680/pp
Includes lunch, refreshment & return transfer.

Multi-Day Trips: all guiding, equipment, meals & transfers included - request more info
Price Includes
  • Experienced & professionally qualified Rafting Guides
  • All Rafting Equipment
  • Transfers to drop-in / take-out & return transfers on full-day and overnight trips
  • All Meals & soft-drinks on multi-day trips & snacks or lunch + refreshments on day-trips

the umkomaas becomes a high volume (grade 3-4 ) white water river -  during the wet summer months
calm pools between the rapids provide the perfect opportunity to take a swim and cool off