Price range, per nightmin R max R
*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Pietermaritzburg inland of Durban is the starting point for the Dusi canoe marathon, a prodigious canoe race that follows the Msunduze River (from which the race takes its name) until it reaches the Umgeni River and flows out to the Indian Ocean, and where the finish line is placed at the river mouth. The race is held over 3 days, each stage roughly 40km and a total distance of 124km. This is endurance paddling at its toughest, the river offering many challenges that include negotiating dangerous weirs and grade 3 rapids, and with several portage stints requiring the paddler to leave the water and run, carrying the canoe, into deeper water a few kilometres further along the route.
All paddlers must be experienced enough to take on AR-rated rivers which are generally dotted with hazardous obstacles and dangerous rapids, and while the Msunduze River is BR-rated, levels can change quickly, making paddling extremely difficult.
The Dusi has been held at the same venue since its inception in 1952 and irrespective of the river levels. In the 1980s women were invited to compete and today, young girls and boys may enter, provided they are accompanied by an adult and each entrant is expected to wear compulsory safety gear. So popular is the race that major sponsors are attached to the event which attracts between 1000-2000 participants from all parts of the world.
Names such as Devil’s Cauldron and Graveyard Rapid give an indication of the challenges that lie waiting for canoeists who brave the race.
The king of the Dusi canoe marathon is Graham Pope-Ellis, a 12-time winner of the event, and while some have come close, his record of wins between 1974 and 1988 remains unbeaten.
For participants, completing the race is a massive achievement while spectators can enjoy a wonderfully scenic area of KwaZulu-Natal.