South Africa boasts more than 3000km of breathtaking coastline, complemented by a top selection of inland waters, including some of the most exhilarating rivers on the sub-continent. In this month’s #TakesYouThere Newsletter, we plan on exploring a couple of river and running routes and – for good measure – throwing in a lekker, laid-back space in which to relax …
RIVERS RUN THROUGH IT
Think about it: when last have you paddled onto one of the great rollicking rivers here at the tip of our ‘Mama Afrika’? Our heartland may well consist of mostly arid savanna and scrubland plateau, but the Vaal, Orange, Tukhela, Umkomaas, Fish and Breede River – to name but a few make up for it. Add to this the countless estuaries, lakes, lagoons and dams, and you’re good to go for your next adventure.
Orange River, Northern Cape
The mythical ‘Groot Rivier’ rates as the 39th longest river in the world, and meanders along our remote Northern Cape border with Namibia. Most adventurers who take on the Orange either do so as part of events, or on guided, multi-day canoeing or rafting excursions. Nothing stops experienced paddlers from navigating sections of the river, though, if they arrange the necessary permissions beforehand.
Route Options: Most multi-day trips start at Noordoewer, with a leisurely drift through the mountain desert landscape of Richtersveld National Park. Maximise your stoke levels on the remote section of river between Pella and Goodhouse, with proper rapids lurking along a maze of channels. This is more of an expedition, and you can expect to portage your boat around a few hairy waterfalls.
Another favourite river section is near Keimoes, starting from the Neus Weir. From here, you paddle through what must be one of the Orange’s best-kept secrets … Neus Gorge. The rapids are Grade 3 at most, but rush you via a spectacular gorge where towering lava walls loom over the green-brown flow. Tail-slapping giant barbell, the call of fish eagles cruising against the Kalahari sky, and otters popping up along reed-lined banks … just beautiful!
Level of Expertise: Neus can easily be navigated in K1 or K2 craft, or stable canoes or kayaks, and the same holds true for the Richtersveld sections. Beginner to intermediate paddlers will love Orange tripping, especially on rafting trips where there is ample time to slow life down with wild camping on the banks of this amazing river.
Operators: An Orange River trip rates as one of the best family holidays ever. Gravity Adventures run trips along the Gorge and ‘Thunder Alley’; contact them on www.gravity.co.za
Khamkirri Running Trail, Kakamas
Running with wildlife in a private nature reserve is always special, even more so when you have the trails mostly to yourself. Sunrise silhouetting kokerboom against a dawn skyline; sentinel klipspringer guarding the rocky ridges, and jackal buzzard patrolling the arid landscape … you’re about to discover a trail running paradise here at Khamkirri.
Trail Info: Tramp off on an 8km cross-country route (for runners or mountain bikers) from Reception, following the gravel road towards the main gate. Keep right along a slight ascent, looping through the arid and rugged ridges overlooking the river. The route is sign-posted, and much of the trail is edged with small stones.
The private reserve is lined by a high game fence, so you can also follow this and the river to get back to Main Camp. Meander along game and gravel tracks for up to 10km amidst eland, zebra, kudu and other wildlife, or hit the dirt road to Riemvasmaak for a solid endurance session. Khamkirri offers top camping and accommodation options – check these out at www.khamkirri.co.za