Tips for river crossing? Tsitsikamma trail, to be specific

The Tsitsikamma trail has many river crossings and rain could affect the level to concerning issues, apparently. I will obviously take the escape route in case it looks dangerous, but I would appreciate tips for crossing normal level, and also on how to be “smart” about spotting that the level is indeed, dangerous and risky, when/if it’s subtle somehow.


I am replying to my own post (ugh!), as after a bit of research and reading around, I thought it might be useful for someone bumping on this post later. Some points I gathered for river crossing:

Seal electronics in zip-loc bags for extra care, and rest all, ideally, in a proper survival bag, or if you are on a tight budget, a black trash bag (but not the best idea.)

Unhook any waist straps on backpacks so you are not dragged down by their weight if you do fall.

Carry slippers/crocs/sandals/whatever for river crossing, since wet shoes is not the worst thing to walk in, but it’s not the best, either.

Water should be no higher than mid-thigh on the shortest person.

Use hiking poles for balance if you are carrying them.

The flow of current should not be faster than your walking pace, can confirm/roughly check this by throwing a stick or something in the river and estimate the speed.

Stay safe, not stupid! =)

I’ll add in here three people holding each other’s shoulders facing each other is a much more sturdy way to cross a river. Sort of walking in a rotation manner

On your own use a pole of sturdy stick for support so you always have two points of contact with every step.

If (BIG IF) you have to cross then loop a rope to the bank and cross with both ends, once you’re safe release one end and pull across. Or in a group one “swim” across with a rope and tie off at the far side.

KWay made a great Red survival blanket that everything fits into and then seals with a cable tie to float gear across. It’s kinda heavy but really useful
I’d rather have my gear inside drybags inside my rucksack with my rucksack getting wet than go for an all in one approach and risk getting everything soaked if the black bag or survival blanket fails.
Personally my sleeping bag always gets it’s own dry bag - if all else fails and gets wet; that I want dry!
There are different strengths of ziploc bags and different locking mechanisms remember to put some desiccant in there to absorb moisture if using it for electronics (a couple of tubes of dry pasta works in a pinch too)
Another tip use your sleeping mattress as a lilo…

Understand “how” to cross a river so you are crossing at an angle walking along the shallowest cross section before or after a bend.

Fast water = shallow
Slow water = deep

Generally the outer bank on a bend will be deep and the inner bend shallow, if you’re walking from inner outwards it’s going to get more difficult. If you’re floating it’s easier to “swim” from inner to outer than the other way around.

Be aware if what’s underfoot and likely to move round rocks crocks logs etc.

Swolen waters can be identified by muddy consistency and these can hide full sized sunken logs always be prepared to loose your footing and fall in rather than be taken out at the knees with your foot jammed.

All a bit overkill for tsitsikama but good to know.

Also good to know….

1 Like

Hi there,

If it’s any peace of mind, we just completed Tsitsikamma last week. It rained plenty from Kalander Hut on Night 1, throughout the next day and night at Bloukrans Hut, and the entire morning of Day 3.

Our group found the river crossings easy. The Bloukrans crossing was the only one with good flow (just above the knee) due to the constant rain, and we had no issues getting across safely.

Just be sure to move slowly, use the guide rope one at a time, and keep prodding the water with your trekking pole so you can choose your foot placement wisely.

If you’re wary, you can bring a length of rope and a survival bag to ferry gear across, but it wasn’t necessary for our group.

Otherwise, all of the other crossings were shallow at the time and had ropes to assist, and didn’t require wet feet/ taking off boots, even with the rain.

Pro-Tip: Keep Kalander Hut gate closed at all times and don’t leave any food outside unattended even for a second. There are some opportunistic monkeys at this hut that will literally grab the food out of your hands and eat it in the trees above you🤣

1 Like

Thanks a lot! It definitely makes me feel relieved - good to have an idea of how bad it could get. I guess I was over preparing :smiley:

Thanks for all the advice!

Ha! Noted! What about the rest of the huts? And the paths, did you see any naughty animals along the way?