Lon 30.715942 Lat -29.666409
This is the start of the Big Three, and is essentially the last bit of Mamba Gorge. If you are uncertain, worried about a full river or nursing a broken boat then there is a good portage option down the left hand bank past Gumtree and Thombi, and a portage at Hippo Rocks.
Gumtree is the easiest of the big three but requires positive paddling. From the put in after Nqumeni it is a few hundred metres to Gumtree. Enter on the left and take the series of shelf drops as the river gradually converges. Then look ahead and take a decision.
There is a big pile of rocks left of centre, with a strong flow to the right of that rock. In a medium or low river you will need to follow the flow as the river takes you in an S-bend right and then left against a small cliff face at the exit of the rapid.
In medium to full conditions you may well see enough water going left of this big rock to stay on a left hand line and cut the last corner easily.
Gumtree basically leads straight into the approaches to Thombi. As you exit Gumtree there are a number of big waves and drops that need to be tackled head on before a tricky wave as the river turns left through a constriction that whips up a tricky tongue and wave. You are very close to Thombi and don’t want to swim here so be extra positive and stay in the middle of the tongue!
Approach middle left, don’t be nervous to stay in main flow then head towards the end
As you’re approaching look for the 3-4metre egg shaped rock towards the bottom of the rapid. Accept the rapid and let it take you as you start going down but use your left rudder to avoid the egg shaped rock.