"The Confluence" is a maze of channels and rapids that start soon after the 2nd Saddles Portage put-in and continues down to Ibis Point. In low water it is a matter of careful navigation looking for the deepest channels. In high water it is one of the most exciting stretched of water on the course that will leave your adrenaline pumping. Errors and swims in the bigger drops will more than likely result in damage to boat and body!
There is a lot to remember on this stretch of river if you are not too familiar with it, however if you break it into three sections its actually quite easy.
- Upper Section - From where the Duzi meets the Umgeni to the Big Gum Tree (not to be confused with Gum Tree Rapid) (700m)
- Middle Section - From the Big Gum Tree to Washing Machine (700m)
- Lower Section - From Washing Machine to The Slide (1300m)
Upper Confluence Section (from end of Duzi to the Big Tree - 700m)
As you ext the Duzi River you cross a wide falt shelf of rock. Keep extreme left for a nice little channel, but there are other options. River right is shallow and rocky unless the Duzi is full.
The Upper Section gradient is relatively flat with wide open lines. If in doubt simply keep to the left bank all the way to the Big Gum Tree. In high water some great wave trains and strong eddies form so keep up your boat speed and power through the turbulent sections.
The Upper Section ends with a clearly visible Big Gum Tree near the left bank. At high levels you can go either side. It is a great land mark to get your bearings and you cannot miss it. The long Confluence Portage take-out point is just after this tree on the left bank. It takes you to Guaging Weir, missing out Washing Machine, Cascades/Jaws, The Slide and Ibis Point.
Middle Confluence Section (Big Tree to Washing Machine - 700m)
Once you pass the big tree, the river changes to a braided maze of channels. Choosing the wrong one can result in you moving back a couple of batches before you see another boat.
The good news is that by keeping right you cannot really go wrong. After only about 100m past the Big Tree, look out for a couple of narrow channels to your right and head down one. They are relatively easy to navigate, but try not to peg the bank and create pick-up-sticks behind you. The two channels quickly merge into one and then pop you out above Washing Machine.
There are other options keeping river left, however you need good knowledge of these to go there confidently.
The Middle Section of channels ends at Washing Machine. To get your bearings there are power lines across the river just below Washing Machine. Again, make sure you keep right to line up for Washing Machine, otherwise you will find yourself going down a tricky little channel called Pope's Sneak. It is unlikely that you will do much damage in Pope's Sneak however if you don't know this line you are likely to have to get out at some stage.
After Washing Machine the river changes dramatically again. The river opens up however the gradient increases and there are plenty of rocks, channels and chutes to keep you on your toes. Look out for the deepest channels paddle positively in the section between Washing Machine and the Cascades.