I’ve always suspected that our family has a number of adrenalin junkies hidden in the closet and so it was no surprise when we unanimously decided to try white water rafting on the Orange River. As we were staying at Norotshama, a resort some sixty kilometers from Noordoewer on the Namibian side of the river, the obvious choice for our trip was Felix Unite, a company well-known for their river tours. They very obligingly allowed us to book a half-day trip on the river on New Year’s day.
We were somewhat apprehensive about the wisdom of going on New Year’s day as we weren’t sure how hung over our party would be, let alone the condition of the guide who was to take us. However, when we arrived at Felix Unite, our guide turned out to be a sweet young lady who was quite capable of leading the group.
After fitting ourselves out with life jackets we climbed onto the back of a truck and were driven a few kilometers upstream to the starting point of our trip.
We were given a short briefing on what to do and then we were off! The scenery in that part of the world is amazing, with the river flowing alongside high mountains on the left bank and the dry Namibian landscape on the right.
There are numerous birds in the reeds and in trees on islands in the middle of the river and it was lovely to watch them take off effortlessly as we neared them.
The smooth water ahead reflects the mountains and a sense of peace and tranquility overtakes one as one paddles silently down the river.
It has to be said that calling it “white water rafting” along this stretch of river is a bit misleading. For starters we were in ordinary two man Mohawk canoes (not rubber dinghies as we had hoped) and the rapids that we had to negotiate were extremely tame. In fact I’m sure we were all somewhat disappointed that it hadn’t been more of a challenge. Having said that, however, another couple who tacked on to our group, did manage to overturn on the last rapid and ended up losing some of their gear, so either they were really unlucky or we were pretty good to keep afloat!
A highlight of the trip was when we had canoed about halfway and we pulled over to the bank and went ashore. Here we were encouraged to walk back a few hundred meters and then step into the river to catch the current, supported only by our life jackets which made us beautifully buoyant. Our guide called this “nappy running” and it turned out to be such fun that we did it twice.
Felix Unite operate four and six day tours here as well and provide all the essentials for the trip. They are a well-run organization and can be recommended for their canoe trips, which are reasonably priced. However, if you are hoping for a white-knuckle experience over hardcore rapids, in rubber dinghies, I suggest you head to the Zambezi or you will be disappointed. To be fair to Felix Unite though, they don’t advertise their trips as anything but canoeing down the Orange River, so we were slightly mislead by the resort which punted white water rafting! Also, the strength of the rapids obviously depends on how much rain they have had upstream. But it’s an awesome experience nonetheless!