The 31-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from Amsterdam had been on a hiking trail with his partner, a general surgeon, when the incident happened on Monday, NSRI Knysna station commander Jerome Simonis said in a statement.
Simonis said a river guide had been taking the two through the Drupkelders hiking trail when the man jumped into a rock pool.
He sustained a suspected fracture to the lumbar spine.
“While Drupkelders [hiking trail] is a relatively short hiking trail of only 3.6km, it involves vertical cliff traversing making it a barely accessible and remote area,” said Simonis.
“They remained where they were not wanting to move the injured man fearing complicating the injury.”
The guide hiked a cliff trail to a higher spot for a cellphone signal to call for help.
When paramedics, rescuers and the NSRI arrived the guide met them and they hiked a steep cliff, about a kilometre, to the Goukamma River.
“From there six NSRI Knysna rescue swimmers, accompanied by the river guide, then swam upstream searching for the two hikers,” said Simonis.
“The swim upstream involved going over numerous waterfalls. A kilometre upstream the two hikers were found, with the injured man in a serious condition.”
The man was put onto a floating basket stretcher and was gently floated downstream.
Special care was taken to get down the numerous waterfalls.
The police and paramedics were waiting a kilometre downstream.
Paramedics treated the man on scene before a rope and pulley system was used to haul the stretcher up a steep cliff to reach the parking area.
“A Medlife ambulance transported the man to hospital in a serious but stable condition, accompanied by his partner,” said Simonis.
The name of the man could not be released until his family overseas had been alerted.