A group of intrepid social activists and outdoor adventurers will take to the Peninsula’s rivers, vleis and canals to highlight the plight of Cape Town’s inland waterways.  The third Annual Peninsula Paddle, set to take place on Sunday, 3 June 2012, starts where Sandvlei enters the sea at Muizenberg.  Paddlers will use kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle (SUP) boards to traverse the waterways from False Bay in the South to Table Bay in the North over a period of 11 hours.  Under the theme ‘Take back the City’s waterways’ the paddle aims to highlight the need for rehabilitation, and to encourage communities to change the way in which waterways are utilised.  Photo on LHS of Peninsula Paddlers spread across Sandvlei as the sun rises. 

The profile of this year’s event is set to be raised through the participation of endurance swimmer, maritime lawyer and environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh (also known as the Human Polar Bear) who will be joining the group for part of the paddle.

All citizens are connected to the City’s waterways – whether living in well-serviced suburbs or areas of urban poverty.  The event aims to highlight the environmental, social and political challenges that affect the Cape Peninsula and to unite communities living alongside waterways in celebrating the value of these often neglected or undervalued resources while drawing attention to the need to conserve them. 

The event will take paddlers through diverse environments – from nature reserves with some of the country’s most threatened biodiversity to areas where dumping, water weeds and neglect are rife.

The 27km route, which starts at Muizenberg beach and ends at Milnerton Lagoon, includes sections of the Black River, Krom River, Liesbeek River and Riet River as well as two vleis and various feeder canals.  The paddlers will pass through some environmentally challenged areas such as the Marina da Gama canals at the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve where a recent Golden Algal bloom (the first since 1973) resulted in major fish deaths; and the highly polluted canals in Retreat, overlooked by backyard dwellers who have made the canal banks their home.

Various awareness-raising events are set to take place at key points along the route. These include:

  • A water education programme for learners from four schools in the Lavender Hill will take place at Princess Vlei – an important recreational site of natural beauty and local heritage currently threatened by development.  The programme will be run by various local organisations and activities include fynbos planting on the banks of the vlei, an invasive aquatic alien education programme, a “Drain2Ocean” programme, and introducing youth to water sports.
    • Louise Stafford from the City of Cape Town will address media about the City’s Invasive Alien Species management programme and the aquatic weed clearing work that has been done on the Black and Liesbeek rivers through the Kadar Asmal Project, which has also resulted in job creation and skills development.
    • Taking water samples and other aquatic measurements en route which will be analysed and published after the event.

 The Peninsula Paddle is a result of collaboration between various partners including Friends of the Liesbeek, Zandvlei Trust, AfriOceans, Ben Bikes, Dressing the Princess Project, Gravity Adventures, the City of Cape Town’s WasteWise programme and WESSA.

While there is still much work to be done to drastically improve the state of our Peninsula waterways, the event also aims to highlight and celebrate some of the recent progress in terms of river rehabilitation work undertaken by various groups and individuals.

For further information about Peninsula Paddle 2012 – such as how to participate in the event, details of the route the paddlers will be taking including where and when you can support them along the way – click here to visit the event website.   

In 2011 a group of Sea Kayakers from the Simon’s Town Paddlers group did a litter clean-up of Sandvlei as they escorted the Peninsula Paddlers along the start of the take back our waters paddle.  To get into the spirit of the Peninsula Paddle event, click here to read their account.  

The Peninsula Paddle, organised and supported by a number of individuals and organisations, is now an annual Cape Town event that aims to raise awareness of major social and environmental concerns that affect the Cape Peninsula and how we would like to live with and around the rivers in our city.  Each of these concerns has global significance as environmental and economic crises deepen.  These twin forces have their most dramatic expression in poor communities living in environmentally compromised areas, magnifying inequality in a divided city.  The first paddle was pioneered by Thomas Cousins, Kevin Winter, Alistair Lee and Trevor Johnston on 23 May 2010.  Never before had this been attempted. 
Media contacts:

Catherine Ritchie (WESSA) – for general event information
Tel 021 701 1397 or email

Dr Kevin Winter (Friends of the Liesbeek) – for water quality related information
Tel 021 650 2875 or email.


Peninsula Paddle 2012 – Route Details with recommended Spectator Points


Coffee and briefing 06:30 with launch at 06:40 from Muizenberg Beach. Meet at car park alongside Muizenberg water slide. Suitable for any craft that floats! Expect a big flotilla.

6.40 am: Early risers can watch the send off at in the car park alongside Muizenberg water slide. The group will then be visible as they paddle up Zandvlei.

ZONE 2: PORTAGE SECTION ‐ 07:45 to 09:00  Marina da Gama/Steenberg Canal to Princess Vlei.

Approximately 8.15 am: The group will be visible in the canal at Steenberg alongside Prince George Drive (in the vicinity of the traffic lights that intersects Prince George Drive, Vrygrond and Steenberg) – some of the poorest urban areas along the route.

ZONE 3: PRINCESS VLEI – 09:00 to 09:30

Environmental activities at this site. Full distance paddles will be on the western shore at 09:00. If you join in here,you can bring any suitable floating craft.

9.30am: Princess Vlei, spectators should access the vlei from the Prince George Drive side.

ZONE 4: PORTAGE SECTION ‐ 09:30 to 11:00  Plumstead canal.

This is the transition from kayak to bike at the end of canal. Meet at the cul de sac, Prince Georges Drive (service road). This is off the M5 (turn into in Dick Burton, then immediately left, drive to the end of the service road and meet at the Railway bridge).

11am: Plumstead (west side of railway bridge in the service road off Dick Burton Road, below the M5 bridge) transition from paddling to biking. 

ZONE 5: BICYCLE RIDE – M5 to ACCESS PARK ‐ 11:00 to 11:30

Load crafts onto trailers and cars, and ride on bicycles. Seconders will need to support the long distance paddlers at this point.  Between 11.30am and 12pm: At the back of Access Park behind the car wash, adjacent to the canal that runs parallel with the M5 – transition from biking to paddling.



We will do a short section to the bridge over the Liesbeek River (alongside the River Club in Observatory and Valkenburg Hospital) then return to the Black River and on to Woodstock Beach. If you wish to join the paddle at the start of the Black River zone, then enter at the Sybrand Park Black River, off Klipfontein Road, just before the canal enters the Rondebosch Golf course. Paddlers will pass this point at around 1.30pm.  This is an excellent zone for paddling and we hope to have a number of paddlers join in at this point for the final leg of the journey.

Between 2pm – 3pm: On the Black River after the paddlers exit the Rondebosch Golf Course – good visibility of the paddlers from the Pinelands/Mowbray bridge (on Raapenberg Road). The foot bridge that precedes the vehicular bridge is also a good vantage point, accessible from the slip road parallel to the river, next to the Water Works.  Additional points include where the M5 bridge crosses the Black River east of Valkenberg, and on the grass verges of the river adjacent to the M5 before the Koeberg Interchange.


Paddlers will exit the Salt River and paddle beyond the surf zone toward Milnerton lagoon estuary. To join this leg, it is best to launch crafts at the beach and to paddle to the Salt River. There is no easy access via the canal in the Paarden Eiland area.

3pm: Salt River mouth at Woodstock Beach – good opportunity to engage with the kayaks and stand up paddlers in the surf zone as they come out of the river, before entering the sea to make their way to the Milnerton Lagoon. 


Finish at car park Milnerton lighthouse alongside Milnerton Lagoon (Woodbridge Island). Soup, rolls, coffee and hot showers available.

Please note – all times given are approximate.

For a really energetic weekend join the Paddle for the Planet led by Dawid Mocke from Fish Hoek Beach on 2 June. Find out more at http://scenicsouth.co.za//2012/05/paddle-for-the-planet-with-dawid-mocke-from-fish-hoek-beach/