The Kaaimans River; most likely the river with the most historical mentions in the Garden Route.
This small corner between George and Wilderness is famous for its on going challenges. They vary from struggled crossing to a colossal train bridge built in 1925. The 210m long bridge entered South African Railways and Harbours service on 30 November 1928 and became redundant in June 2009 after the floods.
The first documented crossing was that of Ensign Beutler on 13 October 1752, during a scouting expedition.
The crossing, named Kaaimans gat, was also known as ” Keeromriver” meaning Turnabout, as many had to turn back here in the past. Other documented crossings that were made included some prominent figures. In 1778 – Governor Joachim van Plettenberg battled his way through the ravine with 3 ox wagons on his way to Bahia Formosa (Plettenberg Bay) and in 1782/3 Naturalist Francois le Vaillant left pampeon kraal to face the same ordeal.
Most of these records eloquently describe the difficulty of the descends and ascents by ox wagon down the traitorous ravine. I can only imagine, if it wasn’t for the elegance of the time, that it would have been a string of undesirable words.
Today the Kaaimans is a soft adventure spot for visitors and locals alike. This is where you can paddle to the hidden Kaaimans waterfall, suspend yourself over a waterfall while abseiling, spend some time exploring the river upstream or laze on the white river banks.
At the river mouth, the dark fresh water merges with the blue Indian Ocean under the magnitude of the Kaaimans Bridge. The old train bridge, no longer in use, is now an iconic site for curious explores and zealous photographs.
Fortunately these days the Kaaimans can easily be reach by car via the N2 or by foot from the Wilderness beach. It’s a real treat and one that should definitely be part of your “things to do list” while visiting the Garden Route.