Orange River 5-day route plan
Groups meet Saturday evening and return to base Thursday evening
- THE NIGHT BEFORE – Meet&Greet, Trip prep
- DAY1 – Above Onseepkans
- DAY2 – To Flat Rocks
- DAY3 – Into the Gorge
- DAY4 – Hiking, swimming, fishing, relaxing
- DAY5 – Paddle to the end
- THE NIGHT AFTER – Celebration and awards
Our base camp is at Raapenskraap with lawns stretching down to the river and wonderful views of the Kalahari hills. There are ablutions for camping, and you may choose to book ahead for guest house accommodation the night before and the night after (talk to us about reservations). Bring your own braai for the first night, and join us for a celebratory send-off dinner on the last night (to your account). The base is about 990km from Johannesburg on good tar all the way. From Cape Town, 880km, the last 100km is on fairly good gravel.
We are family operators and can take anyone from 8-75. Parents with young kids should opt for a guided raft. If you are not fully able bodied there is the option to go on a passenger raft (pictured). Others have the choice of 4 seater paddle rafts (with a guide on board) or 2-seater crocs. Only personal gear is carried on these rafts – our team manages all the group gear. You do not need rafting experience, nor must you be very fit, but must expect to be active throughout the day and ready to rough it in camp at night.
The Oranje Gorge is situated on the border between South Africa and Namibia, in an arid region with Bushmanland to the south and the Kalahari to the north. It verges on the great Namib desert. Being more than 350km from the Atlantic Ocean, the area is not swept by cold fogs and remains at a fairly even daytime temperature between 20-25 degrees throughout the winter. Nights can be cold but seldom frosty, and the river is swimmable. Elevation above sea level is between 500 and 350 metres, so we are away from the Highveld cold.
Trips with The RIVERMAN are true expeditions. With us, you are with the original pioneers of the the Oranje Gorge which we opened up for rafting four decades ago. We know the landscape, the river, the wildlife, geology and history of the area intimately so as to enrich your experience of the trip. Our guides love the area, will lead you to great viewsites and secret hide-outs. They’re great story tellers, so settle back in your boat or around the campfire for a colourful discussion! Bring a camera, binoculars and perhaps a notebook.
We travel self-contained, carrying all food and equipment for the five days on river. Meals are varied and delicious, featuring fresh salads, braais and roasts, scrumptious baked bread, fruit, chocolates and plenty of coffee and hot chocolate. Over the years we have developed an efficient camping system, kitchen sink and all, packing everything for the group into our loadrafts. A tarp is erected over campsites when necessary, and there are stools to sit on. Campsites are selected for their good views, clean sand, warm rocks, hiking paths and bathing holes.
You only need to paddle with your drybags, dry bucket, cooler box, water and snacks. We supply the empty pack and, on the night before the trail, we show you how to pack and get ready. These items are tied into your 2-seater “croc” inflatable. We can provide watertight containers for cameras and you may bring a cellphone although reception is spotty at best. It’s important to have sunscreen, band-aids, painkillers, ointments, and other personal items – the group medical kit is not a pharmacy for all! Bring cokes, wines, beers, whisky etc. A water bottle on the boat is essential.
All our scheduled trips (mainly in holiday periods) are catered. But you have the option to put a group together (minimum 10, maximum 22) for a self-catered trip. This also applies to schools. On catered trips we provide all meals starting on the first morning of the trail and ending at lunchtime on the last day. We do not provide snacks, drinks and other luxuries – bring your own. For self-catered trips we provide a detailed Briefing with menu & buying ideas. Our kitchen on the river is available and guides will lend a hand.
You need a lightweight tent and compact roll-up mattress or groundmat, or can hire these from us. The sleepng bag is your own. Your clothing consists of a travel outfit that remains with your vehicle; wet kit for the river (costume, trousers and shirt against the sun, cap, tackies or sneakers, and drimac or windbreaker); and night gear for the river camps including torch, personal medications, tracksuit and underwear, jersey, beanie, socks and shoes, towel, small pillow and possibly gloves. Don’t bring bulky stuff like huge canvas tents or big mattresses – what doesn’t fit, stays behind!
At every camp there are good hikes to mountaintops and along the river, for views of the surroundings. You are bound to encounter wildlife including klipspringers (small buck clinging to the cliffsides), fish eagles and rock rabbits. As we paddle downriver we are likely to spot black eagles perched on rock outcrops. During the day, according to the Codes of the African Paddling Association, no drinking of alcohol or consumption of recreational drugs is permitted. We do not permit loud parties and heavy drinking at night, but relaxing in moderation is part of the total river experience.
The total trip distance is about 50km (thus averaging only 10km a day, although some days are longer and on day 4 we don’t trip downriver at all but explore the Gorge from our camp). The river wanders between islands with small and medium sized rapids breaking up the long pools. Monkeys, baboons, fish eagles and many species of waterfowl make the Orange their home. Flyfishing for small- and large-mouth yellow fish is a popular sport and you can bring your rod (in a tube for protection) – ask about our specialised fly fishing drift trips.