Rolling On The River: How To Do An Orange River Rafting Trip

Rafting the Orange River is one of South Africa’s best-value adventure holidays: a combination of paddling canoes over rapids and through spectacular scenery, swimming in the (crocodile free) river and camping under the stars far from any human habitation makes the perfect recipe for wholesome fun.

A 400-mile (640km) drive north of Cape Town, the Orange River forms a natural boundary with Namibia and traverses the Ai-Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. It’s here – on both the South African and the Namibian sides – that rafting trips start. For a couple of days after that, it’s just you, your canoe, your group of friends and a guide, and the beautiful desert of rippled sand dunes and craggy mountains (and the occasional baboon troop).

For the most part, the paddling is fairly easy going – there’s a bit of work involved and then a lot of floating and dips in the river to cool down, but there are some rapids to tackle, which gives you a bit of an adrenaline kick. Otherwise, far from any town, without cell phone signal and no need for a watch, time really starts to seem irrelevant, as you slip into an easy rhythm dictated by the river and the sun. At night you camp on the banks of the river, in the wild, metres from dunes, and drink red wine around the campfire before nodding off under a Milky Way canopy.

If you’re not into camping or roughing it, then this is probably not a good holiday option for you. But if you love getting away from civilization in the outdoors, a bit of adventure and sleeping under the stars, then you can’t do better than an Orange River rafting trip.

How to book an Orange River rafting trip

There are a number of operators on both the South African and Namibian sides of the border that offer guided trips along the river, ranging from one day to several days. On the whole the trips are budget-friendly and offer great value for money – they start at around R2610 per person, including all your meals.

You can opt to self-cater but you don’t pay much more to have all your meals catered for you, and going for the catered option does mean that you don’t have to worry about a thing other than keeping your drinks cold.

If you’re travelling in a big family or group of friends, you’ll be able to get your own private group and guide.

Amanzi Trails, which is in Namibia, is one of the most affordable options, and offers friendly, relaxed guides and simple but hearty meals. Bundi is almost the same price as Amanzi, while Gravity Adventures and Felix Unite are a bit pricier. All offer very similar guided trips, with catered and self-catering meal options.

What to expect

You’ll likely spend your first night at base camp, where there will be a campsite and ablutions. The next day, after a briefing, you’ll head out on the water with your guide and group. You’ll spend most of the days in your canoe, paddling and steering through rapids (which aren’t anything too scary), and also taking breaks to swim and lazily let your canoe drift downstream. If you’re not that fit, don’t worry – the paddling isn’t too intense, but you might find that you get stiff arms after a few days. You’ll stop off somewhere for lunch, paddle more in the afternoon and then make camp in the late afternoon.

Shutterstock

If you’re on a catered trip, guides will start cooking dinner while you choose a spot to sleep. If you go on summer, you won’t want to sleep in a tent – it’s too hot. Instead, inflate your blow-up mattress, and get ready to sleep under the stars after a tasty dinner cooked over coals and some toasted marshmallows. Your morning will start with breakfast and coffee, made by the guides. You’ll pack up your canoes, slap on sunscreen and get ready for the next day. At the end of the trip you’ll get picked up on a truck and taken back to base camp – you won’t have to paddle upstream!

There are no toilets on the route. The great outdoors is your bathroom! Remember not to leave toilet paper on the ground – bring it back to camp with you in a brown paper bag. There are obviously no showers either. You feel fairly clean because you’re in the water all day, but if you want to wash, bring some biodegradable soap and wash in the river when you set up camp in the afternoon.

The canoes can capsize, especially when you’re going over rapids. You’ll be given plastic buckets with lids to keep all your clothes and sleeping bags in, in case you tip over – remember to bring big plastic trash bags to line the buckets and make them more waterproof.

When to go

It gets extremely hot in summer (November to March), when temperatures can reach 122 F (50C). If you can’t handle this extreme heat, choose to go between April and October, when the days are pleasant and evenings are cool (for nighttime pack warm clothes and thick sleeping bags). Despite the scorching temperatures, trips over New Year’s remain the most popular – each of the different companies offer New Year’s Eve parties back at base camp, either before or after your canoeing trip.

  • Bring a beach umbrella and some rope and tie it onto your canoe to give you (and your cooler box) a bit of shade. It’s also handy for shading yourself while you swim in the river.
  • Cover up! Many people underestimate the strength of the sun out there and get severely burned (and even get sunstroke) on their first day. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, big sunglasses, a sarong to cover your legs and feet and wear a long-sleeved shirt all day. Wear a high-factor SPF sunscreen and don’t forget to wear an SPF lip ice on your lips – they easily get burnt.
  • Camping chairs and a blow-up mattress aren’t necessities, but they do make the camping part of the trip more comfortable.
  • Bring a lot of Ziploc bags to keep things waterproof. If you’re bringing your camera, buy a waterproof bag for it.
  • Bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined – being in the water for most of the day will turn white clothes a permanent light shade of brown.
  • Pack lots of snacks like dried fruit, nuts, chips and protein bars to munch on between meals – just keep them waterproof in zip loc bags.
  • You might be tempted to pack your cooler box just with beers but remember to take some non-alcoholic drinks (other than water) to quench your thirst and replenish electrolytes lost during a day of sweating under the sun.
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Sarah Duff

Sarah Duff is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s travelled all over the world, but she’s happiest on assignment in Africa: whether it’s tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda, road tripping around Malawi, trekking in the Namib Desert or beach-hopping in Mozambique.

How cold is it at night rafting orange river

Our most popular Orange River rafting option – featuring our legendary bush cuisine and including everything except your personal clothing, camping equipment and your choice of drinks.

You can join a scheduled trip or gather some friends and book a private trip. We need a minimum group size of 12 to run a trip and the maximum is usually 24. Includes base camp accommodation for the 1 st and last nights (camping), all meals from dinner on 1 st night, sundowner snacks, all boating and safety equipment, professional, qualified and experienced guides and transfer from the end point back to camp. You can book a private group if you have 20 or more people in high season and 16 or more people in low season. High season rate are the spring, summer and autumn school holidays and long weekends and low season rates are winter and term time.

For organized groups of 20 or more who need the best value option, with a simpler menu. Includes everything except your personal clothing, camping equipment and your choice of drinks and snacks.

You will need to organize a group of 20 or more people. Trip cost includes base camp accommodation for the 1 st and last nights (camping), all meals from dinner on 1 st night, all boating and safety equipment, professional, qualified and experienced guides and transfer from the end point back to camp. Rate applies all year round.

Our river safari is an all-inclusive and upmarket trip for small groups who’d like to do the Orange River in a certain amount of style and comfort.

Includes tented accommodation for the 1st and last nights, all meals from dinner on 1st night, all boating and safety equipment, professional, qualified and experienced guides, porter boaters, all camping equipment and transfer from the end point back to camp. Group size from 2-14 people.

Directions

Kit List

Preparing

Gravity has an unwavering attitude towards quality and safety on all of their trips – some of the aspects which make Gravity one of the leading adventure companies in SA include the following;

  • All inclusive – 2 nights in base camp and ALL meals – no hidden extras
  • Small groups – for safety and environmental reasons
  • Only APA qualified guides, in the recommended guide: client ratios
  • Top notch equipment
  • The best in bush cuisine – all fresh prepared on river
  • Undiscovered sections of river – no crowds
  • No border crossings or passports

Yes, we are Operating Members of APA and our guides are APA members, trained, qualified and experienced.

Yes we do, we were the first rafting operator to become compliant with the law.

It includes all of your meals, from the evening of your arrival, to a light breakfast on the morning of your departure, camping at base camp on your first and last nights, 4 full days and 3 nights on river (3 days and 2 nights if doing a 3 day, 4 night trip), qualified and experienced guides, all boating and safety equipment and no, you don’t have to bring your own loo paper! We also provide crockery and cutlery.

You can drive up in your own vehicle or we can recommend a vehicle rental company or coach with driver. The road is a good tar road all the way up from Cape Town and takes around 9 hours. The road is also good tar coming in from the Gauteng direction. The last section of +/- 50 kms to the camp is usually a good dirt road. This road does, however, become difficult after heavy rain (not common in this area). We recommend that you contact the Pofadder Police Station (tel: 054 933 0022) or Onseepkans Police Station (054 951 0002) to check the condition of the road and choose the alternative route if required. Full directions will be supplied on confirmation of booking. We can also make recommend accommodation en route for you if you’d like to do the drive over two days. Fly in tours can also be arranged.

No, you don’t. The trip starts and ends on the South African side so no border crossing is required.

Our base camp is a grassed campsite on the river banks. Rustic ablutions and flush toilets are provided. On river, we’ll be free camping – all catering equipment is supplied. You can also upgrade to a dome tent or to a nearby guest house for the nights in base camp.

On river, your guide will give you a thorough briefing regarding ablution procedures. Generally, you will wash in the river – we don’t supply showers or hot water on standard trips but these are provided on upgrade trips. We usually use the environmentally friendly ‘cat hole’ toilet method (don’t worry – your guide will explain!) but, depending on the season and the size of your group, may also provide a porta-loo.

A full kit list will be supplied on confirmation of booking. Remember that whatever you choose to bring will get very dirty so don’t bring your new clothes!

There are no guarantees on a river trip but it’s extremely unlikely – you will be supplied with a dry-bag, which will keep your clothes dry even if the bag lands in the water. You can also pack your clothes into black bags inside the dry bags to make sure. Your guides will explain to you the best way to pack your bags. Space is sufficient but limited so don’t bring too much with you.

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Yes. Although there can be no guarantees on a river trip, we do provide watertight dry buckets for cameras, binoculars etc. It is also worth considering buying a disposable waterproof camera.

Although this is an exciting trip, the distance covered over the four days is not very long (about 37kms) so you don’t have to be an athlete to do the trip. A reasonable level of fitness and good health is required, though. Temperatures can be extreme, especially in summer so please bear this in mind. There is no age limit but you should familiarise yourself with what the trip entails and make an informed decision on your ability to participate, based on your own fitness. Our general recommendation is a minimum age of 8 years and a maximum of 70. Expectant mothers are welcome – up to about 4 months along. Each client is issued with a PFD (’Lifejacket’) and is instructed on how to handle him or herself in the water, you don’t need to be a strong swimmer but please let us know if you are not confident in the water. There is always the option to walk around rapids you are not happy to do. You also have the option of requesting a very stable raft, which is steered by a guide (dependent on water level – medium and high levels only)

We use 2 person inflatable ‘crocs’ that are very stable and easy to paddle, even for beginners. This section of river has lots of fun rapids and a few challenging runs. There is therefore quite a good chance that you’ll have at least one swim! You will be equipped with a PFD (‘lifejacket’) and will have been given instruction on exactly how to behave if you fall out of your boat. We also use only highly trained guides who will be on hand to rescue you if required. You also have the option of requesting our very stable 5-person raft, which is steered by a guide (dependent on water level– medium and high levels only).

Whilst there is an inherent element of risk in every adventure, running rivers with our professional guides should not be considered dangerous. Our guides are all trained in First Aid and we carry a First Aid kit. It is your responsibility to inform the guides about any allergies or medical conditions you may have and to make sure you have any personal medication with you (e.g. asthma pumps, allergy medication etc.). This trip does take place in a remote wilderness environment where evacuation can be difficult and time consuming but we have put plans in place to cope with any emergencies. We do not carry a sat phone as there is cell coverage from high points at various locations along the river. In general, evacuation by helicopter is not possible due to the rough terrain and the distance from the nearest helicopter but in our 19 years of operation, we have not needed it!

Gravity provides all meals but you can bring your own choice of drinks. We will supply you with cooler boxes but if you intend bringing a large amount of canned drinks, it is worth it to bring your own cooler box as well. It’s also a good idea to bring drink mix such as Game, which can be mixed with water – purified water will be supplied at each stop.

Generally, the water is clean enough to drink but we use water purification tablets to be on the safe side.

In summer (September-April), days are very hot (30-40 degrees) and the nights are also warm. In between seasons, the days are still warm but the nights can be quite cool – a change of warm clothing and a good sleeping bag are required. In winter (June-August), days are warm (20-25 degrees) and nights (and water) are cold. The rainy season is late summer but since this is a semi-arid region, rain is not a frequent occurrence. Thunderstorms do sometimes occur but are usually over quickly.

We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the best in bush cuisine. All meals are prepared fresh on the river and consist of hearty, healthy main courses, followed by desert. Sundowner snacks are also served.

We generally limit our group sizes to less than 24 per group – small groups are easier to control and, therefore, safer and the negative impact on the environment is minimised. Finally, we have found that a small group size results in a better and more intimate trip for our clients.

The APA code of safety requires us to warn you against consuming alcohol or drugs in the 8 hours preceding the trip as well as at all times on the water.

To book, we will need a completed booking form as well as a 40% deposit into the following account: Gravity River Tours, FNB, Claremont branch: 200109, account: 623 790 739 60. Your booking is NOT confirmed until we have received both completed the form and payment. Please make sure to reference your deposit with your name and the dates of your trip e.g. “Smith Gorge Dec 12-15”.

Rolling On The River: How To Do An Orange River Rafting Trip

Rafting the Orange River is one of South Africa’s best-value adventure holidays: a combination of paddling canoes over rapids and through spectacular scenery, swimming in the (crocodile free) river and camping under the stars far from any human habitation makes the perfect recipe for wholesome fun.

A 400-mile (640km) drive north of Cape Town, the Orange River forms a natural boundary with Namibia and traverses the Ai-Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. It’s here – on both the South African and the Namibian sides – that rafting trips start. For a couple of days after that, it’s just you, your canoe, your group of friends and a guide, and the beautiful desert of rippled sand dunes and craggy mountains (and the occasional baboon troop).

For the most part, the paddling is fairly easy going – there’s a bit of work involved and then a lot of floating and dips in the river to cool down, but there are some rapids to tackle, which gives you a bit of an adrenaline kick. Otherwise, far from any town, without cell phone signal and no need for a watch, time really starts to seem irrelevant, as you slip into an easy rhythm dictated by the river and the sun. At night you camp on the banks of the river, in the wild, metres from dunes, and drink red wine around the campfire before nodding off under a Milky Way canopy.

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If you’re not into camping or roughing it, then this is probably not a good holiday option for you. But if you love getting away from civilization in the outdoors, a bit of adventure and sleeping under the stars, then you can’t do better than an Orange River rafting trip.

How to book an Orange River rafting trip

There are a number of operators on both the South African and Namibian sides of the border that offer guided trips along the river, ranging from one day to several days. On the whole the trips are budget-friendly and offer great value for money – they start at around R2610 per person, including all your meals.

You can opt to self-cater but you don’t pay much more to have all your meals catered for you, and going for the catered option does mean that you don’t have to worry about a thing other than keeping your drinks cold.

If you’re travelling in a big family or group of friends, you’ll be able to get your own private group and guide.

Amanzi Trails, which is in Namibia, is one of the most affordable options, and offers friendly, relaxed guides and simple but hearty meals. Bundi is almost the same price as Amanzi, while Gravity Adventures and Felix Unite are a bit pricier. All offer very similar guided trips, with catered and self-catering meal options.

What to expect

You’ll likely spend your first night at base camp, where there will be a campsite and ablutions. The next day, after a briefing, you’ll head out on the water with your guide and group. You’ll spend most of the days in your canoe, paddling and steering through rapids (which aren’t anything too scary), and also taking breaks to swim and lazily let your canoe drift downstream. If you’re not that fit, don’t worry – the paddling isn’t too intense, but you might find that you get stiff arms after a few days. You’ll stop off somewhere for lunch, paddle more in the afternoon and then make camp in the late afternoon.

Shutterstock

If you’re on a catered trip, guides will start cooking dinner while you choose a spot to sleep. If you go on summer, you won’t want to sleep in a tent – it’s too hot. Instead, inflate your blow-up mattress, and get ready to sleep under the stars after a tasty dinner cooked over coals and some toasted marshmallows. Your morning will start with breakfast and coffee, made by the guides. You’ll pack up your canoes, slap on sunscreen and get ready for the next day. At the end of the trip you’ll get picked up on a truck and taken back to base camp – you won’t have to paddle upstream!

There are no toilets on the route. The great outdoors is your bathroom! Remember not to leave toilet paper on the ground – bring it back to camp with you in a brown paper bag. There are obviously no showers either. You feel fairly clean because you’re in the water all day, but if you want to wash, bring some biodegradable soap and wash in the river when you set up camp in the afternoon.

The canoes can capsize, especially when you’re going over rapids. You’ll be given plastic buckets with lids to keep all your clothes and sleeping bags in, in case you tip over – remember to bring big plastic trash bags to line the buckets and make them more waterproof.

When to go

It gets extremely hot in summer (November to March), when temperatures can reach 122 F (50C). If you can’t handle this extreme heat, choose to go between April and October, when the days are pleasant and evenings are cool (for nighttime pack warm clothes and thick sleeping bags). Despite the scorching temperatures, trips over New Year’s remain the most popular – each of the different companies offer New Year’s Eve parties back at base camp, either before or after your canoeing trip.

  • Bring a beach umbrella and some rope and tie it onto your canoe to give you (and your cooler box) a bit of shade. It’s also handy for shading yourself while you swim in the river.
  • Cover up! Many people underestimate the strength of the sun out there and get severely burned (and even get sunstroke) on their first day. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, big sunglasses, a sarong to cover your legs and feet and wear a long-sleeved shirt all day. Wear a high-factor SPF sunscreen and don’t forget to wear an SPF lip ice on your lips – they easily get burnt.
  • Camping chairs and a blow-up mattress aren’t necessities, but they do make the camping part of the trip more comfortable.
  • Bring a lot of Ziploc bags to keep things waterproof. If you’re bringing your camera, buy a waterproof bag for it.
  • Bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined – being in the water for most of the day will turn white clothes a permanent light shade of brown.
  • Pack lots of snacks like dried fruit, nuts, chips and protein bars to munch on between meals – just keep them waterproof in zip loc bags.
  • You might be tempted to pack your cooler box just with beers but remember to take some non-alcoholic drinks (other than water) to quench your thirst and replenish electrolytes lost during a day of sweating under the sun.

Want to discover the finer side of Africa? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Sarah Duff

Sarah Duff is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s travelled all over the world, but she’s happiest on assignment in Africa: whether it’s tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda, road tripping around Malawi, trekking in the Namib Desert or beach-hopping in Mozambique.

Source https://afktravel.com/69726/rolling-river-orange-river-rafting-trip/

Source https://gravity.co.za/orange-river-gorge/

Source https://afktravel.com/69726/rolling-river-orange-river-rafting-trip/

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