On Monday we were greeted by beautiful sunny weather, and the prospect of running the Lusushwana River from below Luphohlo Dam to Mantenga Falls. The take out for this section is Darron Raw’s garden, and Darron drove us to the put-in. This was only the 3rd time the section had been run, and it rates as one of my favorite sections of whitewater anywhere, with a combination of beautiful clean slides and technical boulder sections. Towards the end of the stretch I mangled my elbow on a rock, which serves me right for paddling without elbow pads, and landed me in hospital later that week for surgery. This run included a few previously un-run drops to sweeten the deal. Shane left his camera next to one of these slides (which was then termed “Camera Slide”) which resulted in a bit of jungle bushwacking that afternoon to find it. The next morning my elbow was seriously hurting, and it was time to head back to Johannesburg, where I was convinced by my sensible housemate Kate that I should go to the hospital. A general anaesthetic and some stitches followed.

Dsc_0322Shane running the river left part of the slide. This side had never been run before but was very fun.

Dsc_0339Luke preparing to climb up to run the river left of the slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0349Luke getting air on the river left slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0372Shane running the entry to Camera Slide.

Dsc_0375Shane, Camera Slide.

Dsc_0391 Dsc_0394Shane running the bottom of Camera Slide.

Dsc_0412Luke, Camera Slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0427Shane on another Rapid on the Lusushwana River.

IMG_3119The mashed up elbow, after our walk back to Camera Slide to find the camera. Photo by Shane Raw.

IMG_3122Camera Slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

IMG_3136Mantenga Falls. Photo by Shane Raw.

Photo-0004Hospital in Johannesburg, getting my elbow seen to. Photo by Kate Comrie.

Dsc_0024Shane and 12C scouting the last rapid of the Bhunya section of the Usutu.

Dsc_0026Shane scouting the last rapid of the Bhunya Section, with the paper mill in the background. This mill stinks terribly. You can smell the take-out before you can see it.

Dsc_0034Shane running a rapid on the upper section above the Bhunya Section.IMG_3281

Luke on the upper section. Photo by Shane Raw. IMG_3298Luke on the upper section. Photo by Shane Raw.     

Dsc_0053Luke on a nice drop on the upper section. Photo by Ward Young.

Dsc_0065Scouting the upper of the big slides. Photo by Ward Young.

Dsc_0089Luke on the upper slide. Photo by Shane Raw.    

Dsc_0095Luke on the upper slide. Photo by Shane Raw.    

IMG_3315Luke on the upper slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0104Shane running the upper slide a second time, with a different line. Photo by Ward Young.

IMG_3332Luke running a different line down the upper slide. Photo by Ward Young.

Dsc_0130Shane running the Big Slide. Photo by Ward Young.

IMG_3337aShane running the big slide.

Dsc_0143Luke running the big slide. Photo by Ward Young.

IMG_3345A different angle of Luke running the big slide. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0194Shane running the upper slide again the next day.

IMG_3357Luke all smiles after running the upper slide again. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0227Shane running the big slide for a second time.

Dsc_0241 Dsc_0242 Dsc_0243Luke running the big slide for a second time. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0244Luke running the big slide for a second time. This slide was one of the highlights of the trip.

IMG_3377Luke giving the thumbs down for 4-drop gorge, which was looking just a bit too meaty. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0270Shane giving the thumbs down to a very, very bad pourover in 4-drop gorge. The suck back was about 5m. Shane has taken an extreme beating here at lower water and had to get roped out.

Dsc_0283Shane running one of the smaller drops on the Bhunya section of the Usutu.

Dsc_0305aShane getting munched on one of the rapids on the Bhunya section.

Dsc_0328Shane in yet another awesome rapid on this awesome section.

Dsc_0363Shane running the final waterfall near the end of the Bhunya section.

IMG_3408Luke running the final waterfall. Also a highlight, this drop had a nice tricky, technical entry, and one had to make the eddy immediately below the drop as the next (rather large) rapid followed about 50m downstream, which could only be scouted after running this waterfall. Photo by Shane Raw.

Dsc_0383Luke running the rapid immediately below the waterfall. Photo by Shane Raw.            


A few weeks later, with my elbow freshly healed and with a new set of elbow guards, I headed back to enjoy a bit more of the fantastic whitewater that Swaziland is packed with. This time Shane and I ran the Usutu River above Bhunya, which was extremely high, and dished up some more amazing whitewater (although we unfortunately had to portage four-drop gorge/siphon alley as it was looking a bit too gnarly).

Thanks to Shane Raw and the Raw family for their amazing hospitality, and to Ward Young for driving us around. And thanks to Kate Comrie for dragging me to the hospital to get my elbow sorted!

White Fluid Name deep etched with white inside copy_250

All words: Luke Longridge.

Photos: Luke Longridge, unless otherwise stated.