As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Even though the best time to go to South Africa is during the southern hemisphere's summer from December through March, when frequent rains keep the rivers swollen, most of South Africa's prime stretches of whitewater are navigable year-round. Three favorite trips: The Blyde River in the northeastern part of the country, and the Tugela and Buffalo rivers in the eastern province of KwaZulu Natal.
Barrelling its way through one of the world's deepest canyons in the impossibly green Drakensberg Mountains, the Blyde River is packed with 14 rapids that get bigger and more challenging as you go, reaching Class IV consistently. Induna Adventures offers day trips.
Over the course of 15 miles, the frothing Tugela River rushes through the deep Tugela Gorge across a series of nearly 20 rapids with names like Washing Machine, Horrible Horace, Rollercoaster, and the Four Man Hole, that vary from Class II to V (and sometimes V, depending on recent rains). This is a trip best taken during the South African summer, due to water levels. Four Rivers Rafting and Adventures leads two-day expeditions.
The Buffalo River is a tributary of the Tugela, unleashing a series of Class III and IV rapids along a 15-mile stretch through game farms near the town of Dundee—along what used to be the border between Zululand and the British colony Natal. Beach and Bush Adventure Expeditions organizes trips.