Blackwater tubing crew qualifications

Storms River GuideBlackwater Tubing complies with APA swiftwater standards and criteria laid out by our PPP agreement with SANParks and our public liability insurance policy.


Our guides are trained, certified and registered as professional swiftwater safety guides in line with the APA standards. APA requires a minimum of level one first aid  in order to obtain their guiding certification. However, most of our guides have obtained their level three certification and practical skills necessary to initiate and apply first aid treatment in any eventuality and environment.

Our tubing trips are run by a minimum of one APA acredited guide and one in house trained guide who has a minimum 20 trainee trips and level one first aid qualification

We have public liability insurance coverage for damages up to and including 20Million rands.



Blackwater Tubing equipment

Blackwater tubing gear for stormsriver tubing South Africa

Clients equipment

$1·         Helmet

$1·         Client PFD

$1·         Full length wetsuit

$1·         Purpose designed tube

$1·         Shoes

$1·         Customised river tube 

Guides equipment

$1·         Guiding pfd including quick release belt and cow’s tail

$1·         Helmet

$1·         Purpose designed tube

$1·         2 x carabineers

$1·         2 x slings

$1·         Whistle

$1·         Watch

$1·         Knife

$1·         Throw bag

$1·         Full length wetsuit

$1·         Shoes

$1·         Customised river tube


$1·         4x4 or high-rider LDV’s for limited access roads must include:

$1·         Valid license disc

$1·         Roadworthy certificate

$1·         Fire extinguisher

$1·         Standard tool kit incl. Fastening webbing/rope tow rope and jumper leads

$1·         Adequate participant seating

$1·         Safety railings

  • Tube pump

Other equipment on river

  • Day pack
  •  Dry bag
  •  First aid kit & contents list
  •  Cell phone
  •  Summarised emergency plan and contaner
  • Snack container

Management replacement and maintenance of equipment

$1·         All vehicles are checked on a weekly basis against a check list.

$1·         All vehicles are serviced every 10,000km

$1·         Diesel vehicles receive oil and filter change every 5,000km in house

$1·         All river equipment is checked on a daily use basis i.e. when the equipment is used it is checked before it is stored back in its location.

$1·         Wetsuits are replaced annually on average

$1·         PFD’s are replaced after three years  and are repaired  at ELECO in Knysna

$1·         Helmets are replaced after a 6 year period

$1·         Tubes are replaced after a four year period

$1·         Damaged equipment is stored in the office i.e. separately from functional equipment.

$1·         Damaged equipment is sent in for professional repair (mostly suppliers).

$1·         First aid kits are checked on a weekly basis according to their contents checklist

$1·         River phones are checked for functionality, battery strength and airtime before daily departures


Blackwater Tubing safety briefing

blackwater Tubing safety Stormsriver Tubing South AfricaBefore entering the river, a full safety briefing will be done to familiarize all clients with important safety aspects and procedures.

For purposes of smoothe running, our briefing is done as follows:

  1. 10 min orientation talk includes:
  • Itinerary
  • experience
  • risk
  • Chance to ask questions and voice concerns

2. Area aninformation and safety talk en-route to the drop off point includes:

  • Information about Tsitsikamma demographics and habitat
  • Equipment use
  • Hazards on River
  • River ettiquette and personal responsibilities in a nature reserve
  • Chance to ask questions

3. Demonstrations

  • How to carry tube before embarking on the walk into the gorge
  • Use of tubes at rivers edge
  • Hand signals
  • Thow Bagging (high water only)
  • Chance to ask questions

Two guides per Blackwater Tubing trip

Blackwater Tubing Stormsriver Black water Tubing South AfricaOur trips are led by a minimum of two river guides. On low water we use a guide to client ration of 1:7 On high water this ratio drops to 1:5 with a minimum of 3 guides.

The trip leader has a minimum of 100 river trips experience and level 3 first aid certification.


Blackwater Tubing emergency procedures

Storms river Blackwater Tubing Garden Route River TubingOur groups are dispatched with an emergency first aid kit that includes a mobile phone and and emergency procedures document with which all guides are familiar.

In the event of an emergency, our trip leader will take the roll of incident comander and may request group members to assist depending on thier respective capabilities and or qualifications and willingness.

Our front desk staff and management are also furbished with the same document as well as the entire Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) doucument and follow strict protocols regarding communications to ensure swift assistance from Metro and Mountain Rescue.

We endevour to partake in rescue excercises with Metro, Mountain Rescue the police and the air force at least once annually. 



Blackwater Tubing safety development

Blackwater Tubing safety Stormsriver Tubing South AfricaIn March 2000 an accident that led to the death of 13 tubing participants shook the river rafting industry world wide.

It was this accident that singualry raised the safety standards of river opperations throughout South Africa and the world and in the wake of sadness of the deceased and trauma to the operator at the time of the accident left very valuable lessons to river operators of the future.

The Blackwater Tubing operation took the lessons and put into place a few fundamental procedures and protoclos for opperations on the Storms River so as to ensure the prevention of a recurrance of such and accident in the future.

Fistly an escape route was built by us to provide an exit point befoire  the confluence of the Witteklip and Storms Rivers.

Seconly for the first five years we had called off all Tubing trips during rainy weather allowing us adequate guaging experience in determining the rate of water level rise during such weather without putting our clients at risk.

Thirdly the lauch of the half day and full day high and low water trips had provided and invaluable 'financieal pressure release' mechanism as we are no longer reliant on opeartions in the  narrow gorge and now have a super fun and super safe section to run during periods of rainy weather.

Fourthly accurate onlie weather reports have added a great deal of safety as we are now able to predict river level conditions and make the call in advance as to which section should be oppearted. 

We ensure the use of our client and guide safety equipment at all times on river as was put in place by SARA post March 2000 accident. This has proven merit and was the sole reason for reventing serious injury in a rock jumping accident in early January 2014

We none the less reserve our right to cancel any river trip should we feel that the conditions are unsafe for operations. In such instances, booking are moved where possible or deposit payment are reversed or refunded. The frequent use of mobile phones has made this convenient and therefore relieved pressure for cancellations in the interest of safety.


Precautionary measures

South Africa Blackweater Tubing Garden Route Stormsriver TubingOur operation carefully monitors predicted weather developments in the Storms Rievr area.

We use YR our primary and WINDGURU as our secondary weather check.

In conjuction with weather checks we monitor the river level with the use of the previos trip reports if they are close enough to the trip in question as well as river level checks that are conducted before the start of the tubing day.

Our rule of thumb concerning the full day trip in the Narrow Gorge is quite simply...

"When in doubt we stay out"