Swazi Trails is stoked to announce that we’ve opened a brand new white-water rafting stretch on Swaziland’s Komati River. Rafting the Komati in the northern Hhohho region is now a reality for adventure travellers with the trips taking place immediately downstream of Maguga Dam.
For the past 25 years, white-water rafting has been concentrated on the Great Usutu River, where Swazi Trails has built up a reputation for Swaziland, as one of the most desirable white-water destinations in Southern Africa. Thousands of tourists and locals have enjoyed rafting trips, which involve using either 2-man or 8-man inflatable rafts to tackle a range of grade 2 to 4 white-water rapids. However the Swazi Trails crew have long known that the country has more to offer than just one river.
“We’ve had our eye on rafting the Komati River for a number of years,” says Swazi Trails director, Darron Raw, “but hadn’t pressed the “go” button, until now. Just recently a couple of factors conspired to make it a reality. This year the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) were forced to shut-down their hydropower generation at Ezulwini, Dwaleni and Magaduza in order to effect maintenance on their storage reservoirs. The resultant river levels got too low on the Usutu River for enjoyable trips. When we realized the water shutdown on the Usutu was going to be for an extended period, we quickly switched our attention to the Komati River. We’d run some trial trips and training exercises there in the past. But we’d forgotten just how damn nice the Komati River is, we’re like kids with a new toy”.
With a warm reception from both the management at Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA) who manage the dam and its water releases, as well as the communities in the area, Swazi Trails has managed to continue daily operations and honour all pre-bookings without any disruption. Trips are running on a daily basis Monday to Sunday.
KOBWA release water into the Komati River continuously for agricultural needs further downstream, whilst hydropower generation by SEC takes place during peak demand periods. The area is one of the most scenic and remote in Swaziland.
So how does the Komati River compare to the Great Usutu? This is a question that Lead Raft guide, Bheki Gadlela, is regularly asked? He gives his opinion, “the Komati River is very good for rafting, the water is clean, the rapids are fun and the valley itself is very scenic, tourists love this place.”
One additional bonus is that this new rafting trip also gives adventurers access to one of Swaziland’s most legendary geological features, The Gap, a place where the entire Komati River disappears down a waterfall and underground, later emerging in a gorge further downstream. Known to locals as sicancweni, literally meaning “footbridge” it is a place that few people have every visited due to its remote location.
Concludes Raw, “It is quite possible that we will offer rafting trips on both the Usutu and the Komati River going forward, rather than just treating this as a short-term Plan B. Our eyes have been opened fully to the beauty of this area and we look forward to promoting this as a new tourist attraction in Swaziland.”
Swazi Trails rafting trips depart from the Ezulwini Valley with transport provided to and from the river. For more information see our FAQ on Rafting the Komati River