Fast Facts - Tops
River: Umgeni
29°42'58.17"S
30°52'11.82"E
Access: Good road
Races on this section:
     Inanda to Durban
     50 Miler
     Dusi Canoe Marathon
     Non-Stop Dusi

Tops Needle Portage & Rapid

Tops Needle Rapid begins immediately after the Dam Wall Portage. It is a dangerous rapid due to the unnatural placement of boulders that occurred during the construction of the bridge above the rapid. This has resulted in hazardous undercuts and siphons that have claimed many boats and entrapped paddlers.

Your best option at Tops, since you are already out of your boat, is to by-pass the upper part of the rapid and put in half way down on the left bank. This option avoids the steep and dangerous section of the rapid. The Tops Portage begins 50m before the bridge down a steep, but easy path and then follows a small stream to the put-in. Alternatively keep going all the way to the bottom of the rapid which is a slower but safer option.

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If you opt for the half-way put-in remember that the river is still flowing deceptively fast. It is therefore best to hug the left bank and get your boat speed up in order to steer effectively. Many paddlers fall out here trying to head into the centre of the river. The fast current either catches the right edge and flips them out unexpectedly or they get swept broadside onto the rocks downstream.

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Keep close to the left bank and you should be fine.

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