the PURE ORANGE expedition
12 January - 17 April 2009
Solo, source to sea traverse, photo and film expedition, documenting landscapes and current timeline of the Senqu Orange Gariep River of Southern Africa by Rob Wilson.
The source in the Drakensberg Mountains at an altitude above 9500 feet was the setting for the start of a 2400km + journey to the chilly Atlantic ocean. The first 40km´s were hiked along the river bank due to very little water. The rural landscape of Lesotho with little infrastructure and peaceful people was a calming influence for the first weeks on the water, even with the low water levels.
The Orange River watershed drains approx. 77% of Southern Africa´s land area and combined with the expected annual highveld thunderstorms, water levels went up soon after departing Lesotho, making distance and progress a realistic formality. But, by the time on reaching Upington, the only city on the banks of the Orange River, progress was delayed to water levels reaching 900+ cumecs. The most technical sections of the river lie for a few hundred kilometers below which includes the river near Kakamas and Keimoes reaching across to 4.5 km in width and the high Augrabies Falls and its 18km, class 5+ gorge.
Joined by Ine Skjørten and Brett Pomario at Blouputs for 2 weeks was a welcome addition to solo life. A good time to talk and express.
The last few hundred clicks was a blur of extreme heat, barren landscapes and the odd association with moving life in the Richtersveld desert.
Whilst wading through the ankle deep mud to the beach, the sight of flamingoes at the estuary mouth were the cherry on the cake to a personal 96 day journey of simple & pure accomplishment.
Upper Orange - Letsa´ la Senqu to Aliwal North
Distance - 0 to 736km ( 736km )
Elevation - 2917m to 1298m ( 1619m )
19 days ( 1 hiking / 1 rest / 17 paddling )
Middle Orange - Aliwal North to Upington
Distance - 736 to 1691km ( 955km )
Elevation - 1298m to 795m ( 503m )
26 days ( 4 rest / 22 paddling )
Lower Orange - Upington to Alexander Bay
Distance - 1691 to 2461km ( 770km )
Elevation - 795m to 0m ( 795m )
51 days ( 16 stop for high H20 / 1 rest / 34 paddling )
EXPEDITION - PURE ORANGE