The average weekend away usually involves packing the car and going to some chalets or campsite and spending the weekend there. You still have electricity, you still see other people. This is good, but is it great?
Consider this experience for your next break from city life…
After a few weeks of planning we left Vanderkloof on 2 boats (please see at end our conclusions after doing this trip). We were only 4 people, so 2 per boat, rest of the boat pretty much fully packed with camping gear, food, loads of water, loads of snacks and 2 sausage dogs. Neither boat was very big so space was quite limited.
We drove about 35km from Vanderkloof towards the Gariep Dam where we set up camp. Camp consisted of 2 tents. gasbraai, chairs, table and plenty cooler boxes. That night we had a braai with a camp fire with wood collected from dead trees around our camp site. Our camp site had white river sand as far as you would be willing to walk, with a bit of imagination you could even imagine you are camping on the beach. The next morning breakfast was made on the gasbraai.
We set our aims on the destination Another 42 km further away from Vanderkloof, just after where the dam becomes river. It’s known around Vanderkloof as “Watervalle”. It only flows after some decent rains however the trip to Watervalle is worth it even if the destination isn’t flowing. Gorges, endless green mountains and cliffs. 75km from town, no cellphone signal, nobody other than you and your close friends in one of the best places in the country!
Very close to Watervalle is a lapa that was built years ago. Its not ‘maintained’ but in very good condition considering its location. We were greeted by a big pofadder who stood his ground and we eventually decided to go make potjie somewhere else. Fortunately the pofadder didn’t see us as too much of a threat and we didn’t have any nasty incidents.
On our way back we found some nice shade and made potjie on the gas braai, after which we drove back to our camp site. The next day was spent relaxing around the boats, water, campfire. Floating around the dam in a life jacket can be just as relaxing experience as one can possibly imagine, seeing nature from the water while slowly making your way around the cliffs is something one can not describe even in pictures!
We drove back and had sun-downers at the Vanderkloof Dam wall before taking the boats out the water and heading home. Best trip imaginable. Try it yourself!
A few things that certainly should be mentioned:
- Once you go past Grootwater you have absolutely no cellphone signal. Make sure you take anything you may need with you to help you in any kind of emergency. Nobody is going to “come along”. We did not see 1 boat or any other person, other than our own on our entire trip.
- Our entire trip was 143km on the water measured by GPS. Being 70km away from town with only water and mountains and rocks between you and the town, can be a life and death situation if you have no support with you.
- Do not try this with only 1 boat. After the first night one of our boats had a flat battery due to its radio being forgotten in its standby mode overnight. If you had only 1 boat you would have a serious problem. Even a boat with 2 motors should not do this alone. You are looking for trouble!
- Take water, plenty of water. We froze about 8 bottles of water before the trip. This gave us cold water for our entire trip as well as helping to keep our food and drinks cold at the same time.
- Take enough food for at least 1 extra day. You don’t know what might happen and you may stay an extra day. You do not want to run out of food. Fishing is only fun if your life doesn’t depend on it. 🙂
- Make sure your first aid kit has things you can use. Snakes and spiders are common around the dam and Orange River. We came across a pofadder at our furthest point of our trip. If you were bitten by a pofadder while you are 70km from a town that has no anti-venom, you have a huge problem.
- Don’t play with snakes while you are on the trip. Maybe you have handled snakes before, but the chance of you surviving a snake bite out there is slim to none. So don’t take the chance.
- Have fun and relax. There are some stunning views that no photo can ever describe. You just have to see it first hand!
- Take a camera, with loads of batteries. and take plenty photos.