Orange River

Tuesday 14 November2017

It wasn’t so cold this morning.But still not nice getting out of a warm sleeping bag at 6am.For breakfastwe ran out of oats a few days ago.I’ve been eating a local style poridge.Maize flour mixed with hot water and jam.We’ve also ran out of peanut butter.But luckily had some musli for toppings..

Then back on the road.For the final drive out of Namibia.

The scenery was cool- still parts of the canyon visible.Mountains on the horizon all around us.And every now and then an oryx or a kudu grazing.

We arrived at the border at 10am.

After a quick stop at the petrol station to spend the last few Namibian dollars, we made our way to the exit building.

It took agesfor everyone to get stamped out.They spent over 5 minutes faffing per person.Ridiculousjust for leaving a country.Then we had to drive for a few minutes to cross over into South Africa.It was a real paved road! Across the Orange River. The river was surrounded by trees and greenery. Been a while since we saw anything which wasn’t brown or orange.

Here, it was super quick. As soon as we had handedover our passports, they were stampedand handed back.A short while later, we were all back on the bus.Andan hour later.We were still waiting.There wasa problem with other paperwork.Rules change constantlyat border crossings.They were accusing us of not having a passengerlist.We had filled one outa few minutespreviously.But they wouldn’t accept it.So were trying to fine us.(Read, pay a bribe in order to pass).In the end it waspaid.1,000 rand.(About £50).And 3hours (!!) after reaching the border, we were on our way.Our campsitewasn’t far away. We were basically staying on the border. On the bank of the Orange River. The paved road hadn’t lasted long. We were back onto dusty roads.

It was a really prettycampsite, with grass! We haven’t seen that in a long time.Surrounded by mango and orangetrees.

Then to jobs. Tent up. Clothes washed. And lunch.Again, they managed to make somethingout of thenothing which was left in the truck.Pasta with chakalaka (tinned spicy tomato and vegetablemix).With gherkins.Actually pretty good!

We were having lunch late – nearly 3pm.And at 3pm we were going canoeing on the river.

We were fitted with life jackets, then driven 7km upstream.

Our canoes were inflatable.I didn’t realise we would be going through rapids.We launched from a gapin the plants on the riverbank.Two people per canoe.The front personbeing the ‘engine’ and the back personbeing the steerer.We messed aroundfora while, then started heading downstream.It was hard.The wind was so strongand kept blowing us around. And the riverwas hardly moving.

The scenery was cool.Namibiaon one sideandSouth Africaon the other.So much greenery, and dramatic mountains surrounding us. Lots of different birds too – swallows in their hundreds skimming across the water. And other birds diving for food.

We keptgoingand going and going.It was hard work.We went over the ‘rapid’. And hardly noticed.

After a long while, our guide pulled over to the side. We were optimistically thinking it was the end. But we were only half way. Devastated. We were all exhausted. We were on the Namibian side of the river. Illegal immigrants?!

Then we carried on.And on and on.It wasnow 6pm and we were so fed up. And just wanted it all to be over.And finally it was.Bythe time we got to the end, it was lucky there were boys to help us take the canoes out, as Iwouldn’t have managed.I was soaking wet.And freezing cold.The warm shower helped a bit.But was still freezing.Dinner was good – samp (bits of maize, cooked in water – turns thick, like sticky rice) and a vegetable stew.


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