Orange River Rafting for New Years Noordoewer Reviews
Jan 01, 2008
We decided, possibly unwisely, to go river rafting on the Orange River for New Years. Unwisely as it is mid summer and damn hot. On 31 Dec it was in the region of 45 degrees Celcius. So quite warm.
The Orange River forms the border between South Africa and Namibia, and the starting point for the trip is on the Namibian side in the small town of Noordoewer (about 6-7 hours drive from Cape Town).
There are a few options, with people either choosing the 3 or 4 day paddling trips down the grade 1 to 2 river (meaning very basic rapids). We decided to go with a couple of friends on the 3 day option through Felix Unite (www.felixunite.co.za). There are trips up to 8 days. The main difference between the 3 and 4 day trips is that one is 3 days and the other 4 days. You actually do the same distance, but clearly need to paddle a bit more each day on the 3 day.
Being New Years, we had to arrive on the 31st and the other groups paddling all finished on that day, so at the base camp there were between 600 and 700 people who had just finished or were starting the next day. It made for a really entertaining party, although the thought of starting off on the river for a day of paddling in 40+ degree heat with a hangover did make us take it rather easier than those who had just finished.
Luckily our rafting group was not made up of 350 hung over people, just a group of 28. All quite entertaining and very cosmopolitan with Australians, Swiss, a German and even some South Africans (who should have known better than to brave the heat).
The river is pretty gentle with frequent mild rapids and the odd one where about 1/4 of the people wipe out. So good fun. We managed to sink once (with much laughter from the people behind us) and fall over once. But we had the chance to laugh at the misfortune of others a couple of times too.
The key thing on the river is to be prepared for sunburn. Covering up in long sleeves, with a sarong over the legs (and the coolbox of drinks) and a wide brim hat with plenty of sunblock is definitely the order of the day. Over the trip the temperature averaged about 40 during the day and mid to high 20s at night.
Sleeping under the stars is great as this is really only about 100km from the middle of nowhere. I have never seen so many stars. The downside with sleeping in the open is some of the creepy-crawlies around. At dinner on the first night we found a friendly little scorpion on our bedding, following which someone else found one on their pillow. Did not really result in a very restful sleep.
That aside, the trip was really well organised, the food was great and the guides really helpful (particularly when we wiped out).
It is actually a really great way to start the new year. A bit of sun. A bit of exercise. Some time with good friends, sharing an experience. And a few cold beers to end the day.
Life could definitely be worse that that.
Part of the Another shit day in Africa travel blog
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