Text and Photographs Annabella Wolf
A fter I crossed the Orange River on my mountain bike during a long distance cycling tour from Cape Town to Windhoek, I never forgot about this beautiful place where the desert meets the green riverbed of the Orange River. I knew I had to come back to go on a relaxing kayaking tour on the flat waters of the Orange River.
It started off half a year later, with a very windy first day, making the start of the trip very exhausting. There was no warming up, just the wind which pushed the boat backwards if you didn’t paddle with all your strength. No relaxing in the sun, otherwise you would end up where you started or even further back… but the thought of sitting at a bonfire with an ice cold Tafel Lager made my arms stronger and stronger.
We found a nice camping spot. After cooking dinner on the fire and having a cup of hot coffee the stars appeared quickly. I took some photos and it was time to go to bed, to recover for the next day. If the wind was as rough as the first day we were in for another hard day on the river.
The next morning Ronnie (the guide) and I woke up to a wonderful show, this is why the Orange River is called Orange River!
I grabbed my camera and tripod quickly and I was just fascinated and caught up in my own world for half an hour. Then it was time to leave, the sun was already up and we wanted to cover some kilometers before it was too hot. The wind pushed us into the reeds and we had to fight not to get stuck. Luckily, after a few hours the wind finally stopped and we could rest our sore shoulders and arms for a while. A fish eagle escorted us on our way and flew in circles above our little kayaks. The eagle followed us by flying from tree to tree and watched us until we found our next camping spot.
We discovered a great place for the night and while Ronnie was making fire I checked out the area and took some sunset shots. It was amazing to see; only the small area around the river had some greenery on it. The rest of the landscape was dry like desert.
The next day was spent on a little bit of sightseeing, so we stopped in a former mining area. Ronnie told me his brother worked there once, but now they do not mine diamonds at this spot anymore, because bigger ones were found somewhere else. I was sad to see that all the industrial equipment was just left behind and that no one felt responsible to take it away, out of the beautiful desert.
Back on the water, the wind was back too and blew all the sand of the desert onto the water and into our faces.
That afternoon we stayed on the Namibian shore and met another group. The two tour guides of the other group, Ronnie and me sat together around the bonfire and talked until late.
The next morning the wind was gone and we looked forward to the last, relaxed kayaking day.
Unfortunately, after this last enjoyable day on the river the last night under the stars followed too. I knew before, however, that all good things come to an end.
I also knew I would miss sleeping next to the Orange River and just being out there without any cellphone reception. Only the river and me.