White Water Rafting Abseiling Tubing Combo
White-water rafting was introduced to Swaziland way back in 1991 and is rated as the best white-water south of the mighty Zambesi. Swazi Trails offer a half or full day guided trip format. During the winter months of June to October Swazi Trails opt to restrict their rafting section to only the best rapids, which make up a half day trip. However with so many hours of great sunlight (winter is fantastic in Swaziland) why waste the rest of the day? That's how this rafting-abseiling combo came about, with the afternoon jam-packed with exciting ropework alongside the thundering Holomi waterfall. Raft, then abseil, then relax and chill out - in that order !
The Great Usutu River offers a good range of Grade II to Grade IV white water rapids. Trips are undertaken in two-man, inflatable rafts and guided by local Swazi river guides. Departures are guaranteed for minimum of two persons.
The Great Usutu is Swaziland's largest river. It originates on the South African highveld and flows through central Swaziland and exiting the Kingdom near Big Bend. Then it meanders past Nduma in KwaZulu-Natal and up to the Bay of Maputo in Mozambique. The white-water rafting stretch that Swazi Trails make use of is roughly between the rural villages of Sidvokodvo and Siphofaneni, an area known as the Bulungapoort. The river is wide and at lower water levels it winds its way between numerous islands and sandbanks, which are otherwise covered during the full water season. The location is scenic with tall mountains and forested riverbanks, interspersed occasionally by rural Swazi homesteads. Although the river does change dramatically from full to low water season, there is always enough rapids to maker this day one to remember.
The abseiling site at Holomi waterfall is particularly scenic with a vast moonscape of granite rocks carved into numerous potholes, twirls and towers of smooth rock. Our abseil is aimed at beginners and is not particularly high, however the staging area is quite exposed and even experienced abseilers will get a little bit of a rush from this gnarly take-off. Abseiling is not offered in the summer months as it can be uncomfortably hot sitting on top of a cliff...when the river is really the place to be.
For those that don't have a head for heights and aren't interested in abseiling, we offer another afternoon alternative and that is to re-run the last section of white-water rapids by tube. Swazi Trails provide proper Ark Inflatable white-water tubes, with handle holds and high volume bouyancy, because there's no doubt you'll need it. Note - there is generally not time to do both the tubing and abseiling in one afternoon, so you'll need to choose.
This booking tab that you are currently browsing is for a full day White Water Rafting Abseiling Tubing Combo - generally available May to October annually. A quick peek of what sort of action to expect can be taken from the Swaziland Adventures section of our videos page.
If you would prefer a half day river rafting trip, available all year round then switch to - White Water Rafting Half Day.
If you are planning to be in Swaziland between November and May, you've cracked high water season, so then rather book a full day White Water Rafting trip.
Trips kick-off from the Swazi Trails office at Mantenga Craft Centre in Ezulwini. This is when registration and the signing of waivers and indemnities takes place. Thereafter transport departs for the river in closed tour vehicles. Travelling time from the Swazi Trails offices to the river is 45-60min,
All river trips begin with a thorough safety briefing and the opportunity practicing technique on flat water. Rafters paddle and carry their own boats on portages and must be prepared for vigorous activity. After the first 1 to 1.5 hours of fairly gentle rafting, the real challenge starts at the LUSIP weir and then carries on for the next hour thereafter. This section is characterised by careful raft-by-raft progression through the Holomi Station and Initiator rapids in particular. Most importantly, a halt is called just above the Holomi Waterfall. At this point seven kilometres of river will have been covered and this marks the end of the half day stretch.
The relaxed riverbank lunch is a picnic-style affair, served near the Holomi Waterfall. The standard fare is a light and tasty chicken and mayonnaise or ham rolls combination, together with cheese rolls, fruit, chocolates and orange juice.
After lunch it is time for abseiling or tubing. Abseiling is undertaken during the afternoon on a cliff alongside the Holomi Falls. This involves learning basic rope-work skills and then descending the cliff by means of a figure-8 apparatus. The activity is controlled by a guide, using a safety line. There are also exciting cliff jump and rapp-jumping options for adrenaline junkies.
The trip ends with sundowner drinks (beers & soft drinks) and light snacks on the riverbank. The return journey takes approximately one hour.
Absolutely no prior experience or skill is necessary to attempt this river. All equipment is provided, including buoyancy aids ("life jackets") and helmets. Rapids range from grade II - IV, all of which are manageable by first-timers after the pre-trip safety briefing. All rafters must be of sound health, although sanity is not a pre-requisite.
Swimming gear and tie-on or strapped footwear is best. Ties for sunglasses, hats and plenty of sun protection cream are recommended, even in winter. Valuables are not to be brought along on trips. Cameras may be taken on river at the owner's own risk. A suitable waterproof casing is essential.
The rafting area falls marginally within an occasional malaria zone. Precautions are only really advised if staying overnight in the lowveld areas of Big Bend or Simunye during summer months. Those staying in Manzini, Ezulwini or Mbabane need not be concerned as these areas are well outside the malarial zone.
Having pioneered rafting fro its earliest days in Southern Africa, Swazi Trails is an Operating Member of the African Paddling Association and subscribes to the organisations Codes of Safety and Ethics. Swazi Trails river guides are hand-picked, extensively trained and well experienced in river running, safety and first aid. River trips are accompanied by a safety kayaker and followed closely by a support vehicle. First stop basic medical assistance is within 45 minutes drive from the river. Paramedic assistance is available with a 1 to 1.5 hours reaction time. Currently Swazi Trails boasts a 100% safety record over 18 years of non-stop river-running.
The daily trip capacity is 40 people. For large conference or incentive groups certain special formats can be used to accommodate 120 persons or more.
Interested participants are warned that white-water rafting, abseiling and tubing are all active and participative adventure pursuits and that considerable effort and physical activity is to be expected both on and off the river. The capsizing of rafts is almost a given at certain times of the year and participants are well briefed and prepared for this eventuality. River levels do vary significantly from season to season, which can dramatically alter the level of challenge faced.
Participants are advised that large crocodiles are known to inhabit most rivers in the Kingdom of Swaziland, though in the area where rafting takes place these are very shy and seldom encountered. Those with particular fears are recommended to contact the Swazi Trails office for further information.
The children's policy for the White Water Rafting Combo trips is that rafting and abseiling is generally suitable for children of 12 years and above.
However in lower water conditions which are typical of the winter months, participants as young as 8 years have been allowed to join in. A Special Request can be submitted at the time of booking for all children younger than 12 years of age, to which a reply will be given us to whether conditions are suitable for younger participants. Participation is also restricted by the number of small or kiddies-size lifejackets that are available.
There is a 50% discount on the full adult rate for children under 18 years, who are accompanied by at least two adults.
Any unescorted minors, under the age of 18 years, require the written consent of a parent or guardian, agreeing to their participation and signed the Waiver & Indemnity.
For the Swazi Trails White Water Rafting Combo: cancellations made 21 days or more in advance of arrival, will incur an administration fee of no more than 10% of the value of the amount paid.
If a Swazi Trails White Water Rafting Combo is cancelled within:
14-20 days then 25% of the total price will be forfeited,
7-13 days, 50% of the total price is forfeited,
0-6 days, 100% of the total price is forfeited.
Book for more than 20 people, contact us directly
Trips depart Swazi Trails office at 08h30. Swazi Trails are situated within the Mantenga Craft Centre in the Ezulwini Valley. There is safe parking for vehicles. A hotel or lodge pick-up in the Ezulwini, Mbabane and Manzini areas can be arranged at an additional charge.
Free pick-ups are often provided when logistically possible, especially for larger groups or for participants accommodated in the direction of the tour departure. If unsure just ask as a special request when booking.
Participants on half day or combo trips who are exiting Swaziland to the south (Lavumisa/Golela) or west (Mahamba) may follow in their own vehicle to the river, so as to save time and distance later in the afternoon.