Paddle the Orange River
Did you know?
The Orange River is also known as the Gariep River, so-named by the Nama people. Gariep in Nama means 'great river'.
Prepare for an experience that's just you, the water, the sun, mind-bending landscapes and the heavens above when you embark on an Orange River paddling trip with experienced, qualified guides who are trained to lead expeditions for all ages and capabilities.
There are a couple of rapids along the way that those with adventurous spirits will enjoy, with amusing names such as 'Dolly Parton' on the Orange River Gorge route, where two prominent rocks jut from the river. Those who prefer not to ride the rapids can simply climb out and meet the raft on the other side.
Several respected South African river adventure companies offer rafting down the Orange River, starting from their respective base camps along the river's course. For example, Wildthing Adventures' base camp is at Vioolsdrift, Gravity Adventures' is at Onseepkans and Felix Unite's is at Noordoewer. They are all remote places. The four-day adventure is the most popular as visitors often comment how they really start feeling the 'pure nature' experience from the second day.
The trips are well organised and the catering is superb. Each night you stop off at an inspiring natural location in this rugged semi-desert landscape where a meal is cooked for you by your guides. Roast lamb on an open fire in the Richtersveld National Park never tasted so good.
Nights are spent under the stars in a sleeping bag or tent. Out here you are on the edge of the world, with no artificial light in sight.
Early the next morning you’re awakened by the call of the African fish eagle hunting for its breakfast on the river, and by the smell of fresh coffee brewing on the fire. If you need any further temptation, simply imagine yourself rafting down one of the world’s greatest rivers under African skies.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)21 702 9424
Tel: +27 (0)21 702 9400
Tel: +27 (0)21 683 3698
Bushwhacked Outdoor Adventures
Tel: +27 (0)27 761 8953
How to get here
Depending on where the base camps are situated along the Orange River, you are looking at a day- to a day-and-a-half's drive from Cape Town or Johannesburg. Alternatively, you can fly into Upington and hire a vehicle or arrange with the tour company to drive you to their base camp.
Best time to visit
The region is exceptionally hot in summer. June is a popular month for visitors as the days are warm and the nights are not too cold, but anytime of the year is good as the expeditions are equipped for all weather conditions.
Around the area
The river rafting companies can advise visitors on other adventures in the area which include: wildlife and the Augrabies waterfall in the Augrabies National Park (where there are chalets and camping facilities), abseiling, 4x4 adventures, hikes, trails, mountain biking, fly-fishing and extreme adventure sports (including more adventurous rapid riding).
What will it cost
A four-day river experience will cost approx. R3 500 per person all inclusive. The tour companies offer special group or family packages.
Length of stay
The Orange River rafting trips vary from two to six days. The four-day trip is the most popular.
What to pack
Swimming gear, hats, sunscreen, sleeping bags, tents.
What to eat
The river rafting trips are fully catered.