If you look to your left you will find sunny South Africa, and to your right - the scorching plains of Namibia. The Orange River, right in between, is where it all happens.
If you're traveling from anywhere in South Africa it is recommended to stay over somewhere the night before, before jumping straight into the rapids. Driving through slow towns, 35 degrees heat and not a cloud in sight, or a person for that matter, you want to make sure you are well-rested before your 3-day paddle.
Augrabies Falls is the perfect overnight stay. Getting woken up by baboons the next morning is a surprise indeed. With views of the tallest waterfall in South Africa before you hop into the van for a 3-hour drive to the start of your orange river adventure.
Remember to pack lightly, because once you arrive at your base camp only the bare essentials will be able to fit in your raft and the rest of your important belongings will have to stay behind. Our first night we slept at the base camp, right under the stars. We were up early the next morning, had some breakfast, packed our rafts and we were off!
The guides were extremely helpful. They showed us how to maneuver and steer ourselves along the river. The person in the front has to be alert for any rocks or rapids ahead, while the person at the back has to be a bit stronger and able to steer. With approximately 3 rapids across our journey, the first rapid "Castle Rock" had a 90° turn, and the second "Big Daddy" with a 1-meter drop.
The calmness of the area is soothing, and with a team of friends and family, many laughs were had along the way.
Day To Day Activities
The weather got extremely warm, so sunblock is an absolute necessity. We spent an hour here and there resting on sandbanks along the way, to have lunch or a swim. We dipped our T-shirts in the cool water, put them back on and we were off again. Keeping cool and protected from the sun at all times is a must. On our second day, it was scorching but a sudden 2-minute shower of rain in the afternoon cooled our spirits and we were able to paddle the final stretch of the day.
It really is the best feeling when you've reached your destination. The air is cooler, the fire has started and we start preparing for dinner while the others explored the rocks. There are no words to describe the night sky, it truly is an indescribable sight. The stars seem brighter, the sky seems clearer and the air is fresher. It's no secret that you may come across some unwanted guests, so be aware of having too much light around your sleeping area. Our headlamps would shine on the ground, and spiders would come running! A truly bizarre but interesting phenomenon to experience and lends for a true Nambian outdoor camping experience.
Tips To Remember
Sleeping on the sandbanks isn't the most comfortable setting considering how light you have to pack, so be prepared. The toilet situation? There isn't one! A shovel and stroll around the corner will have to do, but it's important to remember to still be super conscious of the natural surroundings. If you do plan on washing yourself in the river, do pack bio-friendly shampoos and soaps. Rock shoes would have definitely been handy to have on the river as it can get a bit slippery and if your raft gets wedged between rocks, you may have to dive right in!
If you're looking to explore the Orange River you can visit Nomad Tours to view travel packages or keep an eye on our socials to view other exciting locations to explore across the globe.