This article first appeared in SA & Beyond Magazine.
The call of a Fish Eagle woke me at first light.
Coffee in hand, I sat and watched the Orange River come to life, as the sun rose over Namibia.
Cormorants sat on the rocks drying their wings after the first dive for breakfast, grey herons waded in the shallows and an African jacana flitted in the reeds. The resident geese chased a dog along the grassy embankment, and a slightly scary Nile monitor slithered onto an abandoned floating jetty for a spot of basking in the early morning sun.
What a way to start the day.
Welcome to Oewerbos on the mighty Orange River, where they invite you to let the magic of nature fill your soul.
A multi-generational get together
When the family is split between Windhoek and Cape Town, meeting halfway works well. We won the toss and avoided the tedium of a border crossing but had to bring all the beer needed by 6 adults for 5 days. Four generations made the trek, from great granny in her eighties to the little ones aged 3 and 6, and of course the two fur kids, a gentle border collie and an enthusiastic puppy of unknown origins.
Time lost all meaning as we adapted to the pace of nature. We woke at dawn and eased gently into the world with coffee and river views, watching the sky change colour as we waited for the first rays to warm the day.
Early morning walks with cameras, binoculars and Karen our very own nature conservationist, snake handler and bird seeker. Little voices whispered, chubby arms pointed, cameras clicked, and the kids spotted birds for Karen. Our highlights were a Goliath Heron, African Jacana, Little Bittern, Orange River White Eye, Karoo Thrush, Swallow Tailed Bee Eater, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Jackal Buzzard, and a Spotted Eagle Owl.
We drove into the vast arid mountains and pitted the Toyota Fortuna against the Ford Everest. No winner could be agreed on although the Ford definitely got my vote. We followed a road along the river, past vineyards and camps, abandoned houses and the skeletons of cars.
We watched the skies change as dramatic clouds came out of nowhere and decorated the sky, and at night the stars had us mesmerized.
We braaied and cooked huge breakfasts and potjies and read books and chatted to Nev and Di the owners over pizza. We listened to owls calling, perched in the camp. We talked, we played, we laughed.
On the water
The river was a source of endless entertainment. We drifted lazily in the sun, we raced wildly in the kayaks, we ventured far up the river and rescued a Monitor caught up in an abandoned net on the embankment. We waded to the Namibian side, rock hopped to the little rapids, and paddled out for a sunset on the water.
The kids swam until they were wrinkled, and the adult boys delayed a braai for hours as they played on the phoofy slide like fools until way after dark.
This intimate river camp is well run by the owners Nev and Di. The vibe is relaxed, very friendly and centered around nature. Popular with river rafters and as a halfway stop between Cape Town and Namibia it has many return visitors.
• 3 riverside safari tents with en suite bathrooms
• 2 double room self-catering chalets.
• 11 dome tents each with 2 single beds
• 10 grassed camp sites with electric power points.
The whole area is grassed and shaded by White Karee trees, and the camp sites are well spaced for privacy.
For communal use there are a number of large thatch roofed bomas spread around the camp. Each is equipped with power points, a large table, a sink with running water and a huge fridge.
We booked a riverside safari tent and a campsite next to one of the bomas where we pitched a large two roomed tent and a smaller dome tent.
The restaurant, bar and sundeck has a wood burning pizza oven, and also serves a buffet breakfast, light meals and pub lunches. DSTV and a pool table provide entertainment.
A swimming pool complete with a slide straight into the water.
A children’s playing area with swings, a trampoline and a climbing frame.
For all ages there is a phoofy slide that runs from the embankment into the river.
Oewerbos is right on the Orange River which forms the border between South Africa and Namibia.
From Cape Town it is a six hour drive on the N7. Six hundred and seventy kilometers of hot black tar heading relentlessly north. In excellent condition, the road is mostly straight, leading you up the odd pass, twisting a little to skirt a mountain, and providing a glimpse of the exquisitely untamed landscapes of South Africa. As you approach the border post, turn left at the fork and follow the gravel road for 13km to reach Oewerbos.
We travelled in the Ford Everest, four adults, fully loaded with camping gear and beer and yet were totally comfortable. The cruise control was a dream, no fines were received, and the regular reminders from the on board system to stop for a break were welcomed by the smokers and coffee addicts.
We left Cape Town at four in the morning and stopped in Klawer for breakfast not long after sunrise. We stopped again in Springbok for coffee and a leg stretch, and arrived at Oewerbos just before midday, in time for lunch.
To book contact Nev or Di
Phone: +27 (0) 82 534 7481 or +27 (0) 27 761 8753
E- mail: [email protected]
Thanks to the folks at Ford for the car, and here are a few more pics.