Though Namibia is mostly an arid region, the country boasts plenty of reservoirs and rivers many kayaking options are offered at the coast in Walvis Bay where one can explore the lagoon and the popular birdlife. Canoeing is also offered on the Kunene and Okavango rivers as an additional activity from the lodges located next to these rivers. The Kunene experience combines the adrenaline of the sport with the stark contrast of river and desert and has plenty of sightseeing, cultural and wildlife surprises. Rafting on the Orange River, otherwise known as the Gariep River on the southern border of Namibia, is quite unique as the Orange River is an older slower flowing river than the Kunene and is perfect for families with young ones.
Down the Orange
Felix Unite River Adventures offers four-day and six-day canoe trips down the Orange, by all accounts the perfect activity to feed the soul:
Hot watery days are spent cruising with the current, or paddling against an unexpected headwind, interspersed with regular dips. Unlike most great African rivers, there is nothing harmful lurking in the Orange, although you might be startled by loud splashing sounds caused by huge but harmless barbels.
After several days on the water swimming when it becomes too hot, you will be so captivated by the ambience of the Orange River that your inclination will be to stay forever and simply row with the flowers.
On the Kunene
Only the lucky few go on the 10-day Felix Unite Rio Kunene Safari as it runs just once or twice a year. Setting out from Windhoek, the expedition starts with a drive through the Etosha National Park, then proceeds to the far north where the Kunene forms a border with Angola.
The guides are experts at leading you through challenging rapids on this remote and logistically difficult rafting experience, creating a luxurious campsite, producing extraordinary food and generating a jovial atmosphere.
The Kunene, strong yet calm, emanates a sense of peace, also reflected in the demeanor of the local Himba. These lean, beautiful people eke out an existence through grazing goats on sparse shrubbery and moving camp when necessary. The five days on the Kunene merges into a pleasurable blur, as the current does much of the work, except in the rapids where steering is required.
Braving the thundering white-water rapids for a swim is not encouraged, as they are powerful and there are crocodiles around. On the last evening, camp is pitched on the banks of the Kunene within hearing distance of the magnificent Epupa Falls with its sheer 40-metre drop.
Epupa Camp also offers the opportunity for river rafting on the Kunene as a complete new way to experience the river and surrounding environment, combined with the excitement of river rafting.
On the Okavango
The Okavango River offers a different and very localized form of canoeing. Several lodges along the banks offer canoeists trips of varying lengths, giving them the opportunity to see life on the river from up close people washing clothes, bathing and fishing and children playing, locals passing by on a mukoro (a traditional dug-out canoe), and plenty of hippos, crocodiles and birds. All in all canoeing down the Okavango is an enjoyable experience with only shallow and easily manageable rapids even the hippos allow you to pass without a fuss, and the crocodiles are no bigger than adult monitor lizards. Most of the lodges supply rafting kits, which include life jackets and helmets.