We woke up early in Springbok, had a rushed breakfast and drove an hour to Vioolsdrift, our last stop before reaching Namibia. We could’ve stayed there the night before but we made a last-minute plan to go rafting in Orange River which runs at the border of the two countries. We drove to the South African and Namibian border but instead of crossing it we turned left onto a gravel road. It felt rather surreal being this close to Namibia; it had always been a dream of mine to go there and now all that stood between me and Namibia was the Orange River.
After driving for a couple of minutes we saw a car on the side of the road with [what I hope was] a toy skeleton next to the sign for our accommodation. Past all the grape vines we arrived at our beautiful and serene camping grounds with chalets as well. We met with our guide and set off for a day of kayaking on the Orange River.
Triin and I shared a kayak and it quickly became apparent that we were complete novices, obviously to the amusement of our guide who chain smoked the whole time whilst sharing his kayak with a super friendly Jack Russell who had loads of fun jumping from our kayak to his and vice versa. After a couple of hours of kayaking we returned to our campsite for lunch. We told them we didn’t eat meat which, judging by the woman’s face, were words she’d never heard before. She looked very confused and inquired about what we *did* eat so just to stop her head from exploding we agreed to eat fish. We enjoyed a lovely piece of white fish and some local wine on a balcony built over the Orange River; serene doesn’t even come close to describing the place and atmosphere.
The next half of the day was a bit more adventurous because we came across some really steep drops in the river. After a couple of kilometres doing occasional 360’s in the kayak we stopped at some amazing smooth black rocks. We ran on the rocks as some of them were really hot. The guide then casually told us that we were actually in Namibia. It really made me pause because it was so odd to finally be in Namibia and without presenting my passport to anyone – it felt like a stolen moment.
Near the very end of our trip was a large rock that our guide said most people climb up on and jump off, so – obviously – I went for it. I jumped out of the kayak, swam over to the rock, the water feeling so good after rowing in the sun, and started climbing the rock. It proved more difficult than I had anticipated due to being wet and the rock being as smooth as a golf ball with it’s soft ridges. It also dawned on me that I couldn’t really climb down and had no other choice but to jump. I’m sure that most people have been in this situation where something looked much smaller from the bottom and when you are on the top it feels like a the highest place you’ve ever been. Nevertheless, I jumped due to my pride, the fact that I couldn’t climb down and also I wanted to try out our new GoPro for the first time. The jump was actually pretty awesome 😀
After we kayaked a short distance to where my father was waiting, we loaded the kayaks, happy about the rowing that day and quite tired. Back at the camping grounds we quickly put our tent up and discovered also that there were no camping mattresses, which we thought we had, one of the many miscommunications. Luckily there was a single bed in the room my parents rented, so we took the mattress to the tent. We took the camping gear with the idea of saving some money when we could camp.
In the evening my parents decided to braai (BBQ) and we made some super yummy haloumi burgers. We had previously spoken to the owner about our mainly vegetarian diet and she was curious/shocked about what we actually ate so we shared some of the haloumi burgers with her. I felt that the mood in the group really started to look much better after an enjoyable evening chatting and showing my parents our GoPro videos.
Then it was off to our tent to get some sleep before another day filled with adventures.