Orange River experience

During the recent April school holidays, a group of adventurous geographers and budding scientists, accompanied by two teachers, went on the ultimate exploration across some of the lesser-known regions of South Africa.

Our adventure commenced in the Mother City, where we were lucky enough to escape the arrival of the recent cold fronts. Gorgeous weather made for amazing sightseeing and geological observations along Chapman’s Peak, Cape Point and Table Mountain. Professor Harris of the Geography department at UCT provided us with interesting insights into the Table Mountain rock formations.

From Cape Town our journey took us deep into the Karoo, where we spent a night in the hamlet of Sutherland. Our visit to the observatory and, in particular, SALT, was fascinating. Stargazing in the light-free zones of Sutherland should be on every South African’s bucket list.

From Sutherland, we ventured into the red rock zone and rooibos farming area of the Cedarberg. The rooibos tea tasting in Clanwilliam at the Rooibos Teahouse was a most civilised afternoon activity.

From Clanwilliam we travelled into Namibia through the Vioolsdrift border, where we began our Orange River canoe adventure. This was one of the real highlights of the trip. Gentle paddling along the river, with intermittent rapids, made for ultimate fun and relaxation at the same time.

Boiling hot days of over 35°C warranted a regular dip into the river. Complete silence, together with magnificent scenery and isolation, made the experience altogether breath-taking. Sleeping on a river sandbank under the stars is a memory we will cherish forever.

Our homeward bound journey took us via Augrabies National Park, where we narrowly escaped a violent attack by a troop of hungry baboons! Kimberley was our final destination before we arrived home in our overland vehicle – which was our home from home for 12 days!