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PPrepare for an experience that’s just you, the water, the sun, some mind-bending landscapes and the skies above, when you embark on an Orange River paddling trip.
There are a couple of rapids along the way that those with adventurous spirits will enjoy – safe in the hands of experienced, qualified guides trained to lead expeditions for all ages and capabilities. Those who prefer not to ride the rapids can simply climb out and meet the raft on the other side.
Several reliable South African river adventure companies offer rafting down the Orange River, starting from their respective base camps along the river’s course. For example, Felix Unite has base camps at Vioolsdrift and Noordoewer, while Gravity Adventures’ is at Onseepkans.
They are all remote places, so don’t try a whistle-stop visit. The 4-day adventure is the most popular – visitors often comment that they only 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 electric light in sight, so when the skies are clear, the panoply of the heavens is breath-taking.
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 South Africa’s greatest river under cerulean skies.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)87 354 0578
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 (November to March). June is a popular month for visitors, as the days are warm and the nights are not too cold, but at any time of the year, 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, 4-wheel drive adventures, hikes, trails, mountain biking, fly-fishing and extreme adventure sports (including more adventurous rapid riding).
What will it cost
Prices are subject to the usual pressures over time, so check the listed websites for the latest costs.
Length of stay
The Orange River rafting trips vary from 2 to 6 days, but the 4-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.
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