I was halfway to Johannesburg when I realised I have left my passport behind. I pulled off the road and phoned Piers. “Nah – the chances are 1% that you will need it and then you can just jump in the river and swim across to Namibia”. I continued my journey.
In Johannesburg, I met Chris. He is an avid rock climber, kayaker, paraglider and South African. He married a British girl and stayed in Switzerland. He was going on a 10 day kayak trip in 3 months’ time and came all the way to South Africa to test out his new kayak on the Orange River.
He instructed me to go back and fetch my passport. Our departure time was delayed by 5 hours.
22 hours later, we stood in a very long queue at the Namibian border. There must have been a huge discount holiday offered for families with 4 or more children. I spotted at least 7 families. The immigration officer demanded to see the occupants of every vehicle but after seeing the 4th family – he started shouting that the children must stay outside. As at most border posts in Africa, chaos reigned – but everyone remained calm and 2 hours later, we had all the documents stamped.
5 Hours after the expected time of arrival, the rest of the group arrived.
Chris having a beer after a ‘heavy’ day on the river.
Marion, a South African who married a British guy Mike 7 years ago has driven through the South African border post just waiving at the immigration officer. After staying in England for 17 years, she forgot that things work differently in Africa. She was send back by the Namibian Immigration officers and it took a very long time to explain to the South African police why she did not stop at the border post.
Marion was an avid climber/adventurer but due to tendonitis, she stopped climbing.
Marion, cooling off in the river
A 10 man tent was erected and I was informed that you need such a huge tent if you want to camp in England since it always rain there. I knew beforehand that Marion’s daughter, Nina was coming with but when I was told that Nina was Mike’s sister, I stopped trying to make sense of the situation.
The next morning, two Ninas walked out of the 10 man tent. Big Nina (Mike’s sister) and Little Nina (Marion’s daughter).
Big Nina flew from England via Johannesburg to Upington to join the group. She had a light panic attack when she discovered that Mike was not waiting at the airport. The previous time Mike failed to pick her up at an airport was in Egypt –because he was in jail.
She attended a circus school and besides being a trapeze artist, her speciality was blowing bubbles.
Little Nina was born in England and lived an interesting life. In South Africa, she would join her mom on interesting trips and in England, she would join her Dad for ski trips etc. She is also an Ipad fanatic.
Mike has dreadlocks, loved 4X4’s, paragliding, gadgets, climbing, wearing speedos and South Africa. He has traveled extensively.
Big Nina enjoying Africa’s Sun
The Adams family
Roland is very involved with the Mountain Club and snorts in the mornings
Diane. Roland’s wife was the very capable outdoor type. She fixed my tent poles and was capable of carrying a lot of rocks when the boys started playing with their toys and got stuck in the sand.
Zen and Veyda, their children were the first children I met that were able to keep themselves busy playing in the sand. They spoke German to Roland and English to Diane
During the next four days, most of us stepped in thorns, Marion and Little Nina’s croc capsized and they got stuck on rocks. Mike’s toe-nail was ripped off trying to rescue them. Marion’s shoulder flamed up and I had a spectacular fall on the rocks after slipping and spend the rest of the trip crawling in and out of my tent. Diane got fed up opening the first aid kit and gave us the whole box of anti-inflammatories to share.
After the rafting on day 4, Mike jumped eagerly out in his ‘Speedo’, his injured foot wrapped in a zip lock bag and walked proudly past the girls carrying a huge log over his shoulder. The hunting/gathering was put to and end when Marion informed him to come and have his toe cleaned and bandaged.
Mike’s foot was protected by a zip lock bag
On the last day, the woman packed up the crocs while the men went to fetch the 4X4’s. Three hours later, the men got the opportunity to play with their toys. Mike’s vehicle got stuck in the sand and after an hour of fun, pushing and pulling we were all on our way back to the campsite.
Over all, a relaxing trip down the river with an interesting group of people.
The girls building a shelter
Pushing Mike’s 4X4 before other gadgets were used to get unstuck
Painting using mud