The Steelpoort (low level)

We had had some thunderstorms here and there. Reports were looking alright for something nearby when I received the phone call asking if I would want to paddle the Steelpoort. The steel what? Oh yes, I had heard of it somewhere along the line. A tributary to the Olifants river. The Steelpoort looked long on the map and I wondered where we would be putting in. I had my doubts over this river, the only thing convincing me was that I was told the section was long, continuous and at one rapid someone on a previous trip had to be bagged out of a bad hole. Hmmm, that sold me. Brendan Bosman picked me up at 04:15 Saturday morning and away we went.



Brendan at the station down the road from me.



First impression of the river as we drove over the bridge.



The bridge at the put-in.

We climbed onto the river at about 08:30 and started on down. As we passed a car wreckage in the river, the lazy reminded us that this one can pump. The rapids began immediately and there were plenty of them. In fact, the entire section is just rapid after rapid. Very few pools with some rapids several hundred meters long. Not big by any means but a swim at a high level would spell disaster. The river is reasonably remote and we saw only a few people along the river within the first half an hour. Then not a soul until the take out. A couple of startled cattle and various type of buck are encountered on the river. Many animals can be seen from about halfway and hunting is permitted at the lodge at the take-out.



The scenery is very awesome on this river.



An interesting rapid where it begins in a maze of grass and one zips through narrow chutes between the grass to enter this rapid.



Adrian Vroom playing the fool.



The entry to Tonsillitis. 


A nice little drop named Tonsillitis by Greg Howard is encountered well beyond the halfway mark. A relatively simple drop but with a solid suck back in the hole. The rapid is worse at a higher level but at least rescue is from river left and there is a nice pool below. The following sequences were taken by Stafford Robinson. First up, Adrian Tregoning.












Followed by Adrian Vroom who lazily took to this rapid and paid the price… J No swim though, he managed to remove himself after some freestyle in his Blunt.













Brendan Bosman running it too. Click on the video to begin..

  Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site



The group. From left, Adrian Vroom, Viaan, Brendan, Robin, Stafford and Gareth. The river goes through a kind of a gorge section and there are beautiful cliffs at various sections.



The take-out is at the Bonamanzi Game Park. A really awesome place to have a few beers or to sleep over after a great days paddle. They are friendly at the lodge, just ask permission before the time. The roads to both the put-in and take-out is in good condition and any sedan can do the journey with ease.




Brendan Bosman cruising home.





I have included a shot from Google Earth of the Steelpoort indicating the put-in and take-outs we used.


The Steelpoort is only about 250 km from Johannesburg and a river I’ll be paddling again in the future. A long paddle of about 33 km but well worth it. You may notice in the pictures we are all paddling creek boats and this was because we weren’t sure how long it would take us. We took our time and made it to the end well before sunset. A playboat on this section with more water will be a pleasure. The group we had and the super hot weather made for an excellent trip. Thanks for a good one guys. J


N4 or N12 to Witbank, then to Middleburg. After Middleburg drive on the R555 towards Stoffberg. After Stoffberg turn right onto the R579. Look out for a dirt road going right. The sign at that road says: Tonteldoos. Follow down the road to the bridge. This is the put-in. Leave the car here and be friendly to the farmer there. He is a very friendly chap though and you should have no problems. The road at the bridge is a public road after all. Follow this road and turn at the T-junction. Keep going until you cross a little stream. Bonamanzi turn off is shortly after this on the left. Ask permission to leave a vehicle there and that’s it.

BY: Adrian T.

Photography by: Adrian T, except the 2 sequences are by Stafford Robinson. Shot for that.

This story is not really meant as a guide, so don't blame me for any errors. If you'd like add your own description of this spot then please contact me. Thank you.

 For more photo's click HERE!