Orange River

The Orange or !Gariep River is one of the world's top ten tripping rivers. It has everything: dramatic scenery, small and large rapids, remoteness, a fascinating history, and a huge variety of rafting routes.

White Water: The world's wildest rivers, By Graeme Addison

The Orange is one of the world's great rivers in Graeme Addison's book

Whitewater in the desert - the beauty of the Orange

Whitewater in the desert - the beauty of the Orange

In my book on the world's rivers I reviewed whitewater on every continent and was a bit sheepish about singing the praises of our own rivers. Now I realise the Orange is in a class of its own. It is the Nile of Southern Africa, the river of the desert, passing through spectacular gorges, with waterfalls and beautiful boulder-strewn riverbanks, ideal for camping. The amazing thing is that almost nobody ever goes there. It's not like America where a trail like this would attract thousands annually. Yet the remoteness and complete loneliness is what should appeal to adventurers in a totally overcrowded world! In case you are wondering how to pronounce the (!) in !Gariep, it's a tongue-twister click. The name comes from the original Khoi word for what was later named the Orange River (after the Prince of Orange) by Dutch colonials.The name "orange" does not come from the colour of the water, although it is orange!
Cooling off - it's hot even in midwinter!

Cooling off - it's hot even in midwinter!

We run many different routes on this 2200km long river.
  • In the mountains of Lesotho where the Orange rises, there is hectic whitewater for more experienced paddlers (4 days: Class 3-4).
  • Once the river enters South Africa it flows through the towering and impressive Mayaputi Gorge (4-days: Class 2-3).
  • Lower down, around Hopetown in the doer karoo, there is the Thunder Alley section (2 days: Class 2-4), a combination of big raftable rapids and stunning rock architecture.
  • From Upington onwards the most popular routes are Blouputs-Onseepkans easy water (4 days: Class 1-2), then Neus Gorge to Kakamas (one day: Class 2-3), and at a big turn in river, the magnificent Oranje Gorge from Onseepkans-Coboop (4 days: Class 3-4). Then, immediately below the Oranje Gorge, there is the Ghoum-Ghoum Falls route with its pink quartzite cliffs.
  • Towards the Atlantic coast the very popular and often crowded Vioolsdrift to Aussenkehr section, good for canoes but not much of a proposition for whitewater (Class 1+).
Go to Mayaputi Gorge Go to Thunder Alley Go to Oranje Gorge  

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