|Where:||Zastron, Free State|
|Difficulty:||Class 2 – 3 Suitable for all skill levels and children above 5 years.|
|Season:||All year round for groups, high season January to May|
|Distance:||544km from JHB
656KM from Durban
176km from Bloem
1007km from Cape Town
424km from East London
531km from PE
703km from Kynsna
Starting near Zastron in the Free State, this section of the Orange River offers paddlers a taste of its upper reaches, just as it exits Lesotho to become the border between the Free State and the Eastern Cape. Completely different in character to the arid environment of the Lower Orange, where we run our other trips, the Maluti Meander includes a flowing river with a few fun rapids, lush vegetated banks and awesome mountain scenery. Glimpses of the traditional Basotho lifestyle, combined with Gravity’s legendary hospitality, make this an awesome wilderness rafting trip for all ages. We use inflatable two person boats that are easy to paddle and steer. We also have rafts that are very stable and perfect for less confident paddlers (dependent on water level). We cover just over 90kms at medium to high water and close to 50km at lower levels so there is time to relax, read your book or explore the camp surroundings. Each trip is run as a self-contained expedition – we carry everything we need and take everything back out again at the end. We make our way down river, choosing a different campsite each night. All you need to provide is your personal gear and drinks and some snacks of your choice. All meals are included, as are qualified guides, boating and safety equipment.
On the evening before your trip begins, you will be welcomed to the Mountain View Lodge by your guides, where there is both camping (included) and an option for chalets. You’ll enjoy a supper under the starry night sky around the campfire and have time to ask question about the trip. Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, your guides will give you advice on how best to pack your drybags for your trip down river. Before getting on the water you’ll also have a thorough safety briefing and some paddling instruction.
The put in is around 50km by road and is a great drive through the valleys and mountains leading into Lesotho. Once over the ‘Steel Bridge’ you cross over from the Free State to the Eastern Cape and get the first glimpse of the river as well as local villages and the rural life of the local inhabitants. The put in is super easy with the river being right next to the road.
This section of the Orange River starts right on the border of Lesotho on the Tele River. Not more that 2 km later it joins up with the Orange River which comes out of Lesotho as the Senqu. From here the river winds its way away from civilisation along the border before heading south, becoming the border between the Free State and the Eastern Cape. The backdrop of the Lesotho highlands and the silhouettes of traditional herders on the hill tops make for a spectacular start to this river trip.
This will give every trip feeling of being part of an expedition. There are not many rapids on the top section besides two fairly new run-able weirs, but there is constant flow making the paddling very easy and you are able to cover vast distances in a day. Wild horses look over you as you flow through changing scenery around every corner. After heading south, the river then enters a ‘Lava Gorge’ which is just after the ‘Steel Bridge’, channelling its way through an amazing and remote valley with endless waterfalls and tributaries joining the mighty Orange. This allows for loads of exploring and swimming in rock pools during breaks on the way. Fish Eagle, Black Eagle and even Cape Vulture can be spotted. There are some class 2-3 rapids and one long rapid on day 4, but otherwise, this section is suitable for all ages, with flowing water and easy paddling. The scenery in this valley makes this section unlike any other on the Orange River.
The take out is on a private farm before you transfer back to Mountain View Lodge for the last night.
In winter, conditions are typical of the Free State – frosty mornings and stretches of drab grasslands, with the ever present drama of the high mountains in the background. In the summer months, this is utterly transformed into lush, green grassland and long hot sunny days.
This trip will make you fall in love with the Orange all over again and, if you haven’t yet done an Orange River trip, it’s an excellent first choice. For clients from Gauteng, Free State and KZN, this section of the river is much closer than the Richtersveld, Gorge or Raap en Skraap sections – way less driving time! It’s also perfect for school groups as there is good flow with a maximum grading of class 3 – fun!”
Web prices subject to change without notice.
|Standard Trip Adult||R4950.00 p/p|
|Standard Trip Children under 18||less 15%|
|1st and last night upgrade accommodation||POA|
Prices include all camping, transfers to and from the river, catering for the duration of the trip, all catering equipment, trained and registered guides and all river equipment.
Note: Your trip price includes TWO nights in base camp and ALL meals, unlike most other river operators.