Thrombi 2019

Thrombi 2019 is a two day whitewater kayaking festival on the beautiful Umzimkulu River near Underberg, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. It will be held on Saturday 19 January 2019. The Thrombi X-Fest hosts a dedicated crowd of whitewater enthusiasts every year, who battle it out in head-to-head sprints down class 4 rapids. Competitors have to win through a number of rounds of heats, semifinals and finals for the honour of being the Thrombi champion.

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More information about the Umzimkulu River – Thrombosis Gorge – from Celliers Kruger’s blog (http://cellierskruger.com) 

Thrombosis Gorge, or “Thrombi” as it is commonly known, is one of the most popular technical sections in the country. The section includes Thrombi Falls, an 11m waterfall that is probably the most regularly run waterfall in the country.

Ideal for : Kayak
Grade: 4, at high level 5
Length: 1) 8km 2) 25km
Duration: 1) 2-4 hours, depending on amount of scouting. 2) 6-7 hours
Type: Pool-drop
Put-in: Bridge across river. First turn-off to Coleford from R617 when coming from Bulwer to Underberg.
Take-out: 1) Farm 2) Polela confluence
Levels paddleable: Look at low-level bridge at put-in. If small pillars are under water, the level is very high.
Dam controlled: No
Permits: Permission from farmer at first take-out

The most difficult rapids are the first 5 or 6 rapids after the put-in. They are all short and easy to scout, with decent pools between them. After them come a couple of long technical rapids which can be scouted doing eddy-hopping. A natural weir follows, which should be scouted but can also be run. Not a long way after this, a solid class 4 rapid forms the entry to the 11m waterfall. Get out on the left before the rapid and walk down to scout the fall. It has been shot many times, but a good couple of fellows almost came short on it. Don’t be pressured to run it, and if you do run it, stay away from the left.

Most paddlers take out at the waterfall. The walk is long and uphill, you basically have to ascend the hill on the right of the river. If you don’t run the waterfall, paddle upstream from the rapid on top of the waterfall for about 100m. Get out on the river right and start your hike. This take out is on private farmland. Definitely don’t use the take-out without prior arranging it with the farmer.

If you do the long section, you will encounter some of the best rapids on the whole section, soon after the waterfall. They are all runnable, but scout the bigger ones. The scenery is also awesome on the second section, making the long trip really worthwhile. Lots of play-waves can be found on the whole stretch.

Detailed trip report on Adrian Tregoning’s blog: Thrombosis Gorge – The Seldom Run Full Section

This river description is taken from Celliers Kruger’s book “Run the Rivers of Southern Africa”.