Orange River The Orange River, which forms Namibia's southern border to South Africa, originates in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho at an altitude of 3,000 metres. It runs in north-westerly directions through South Africa, where it is nowadays called the Gariep river The river is extensively used for irrigation in South Africa and dammed up several times. Near Oranjemund the Orange reaches the Atlantic Ocean - after a journey of 2160 kilometres.
On its long journey, the Orange offers a variety of vistas. The stretch from the border town of Noordoewer and the rivermouth is very scenic, in places the river is seamed by rugged mountain chains and in other parts by dune fields.
The Oranje in Namibia is a quiet and peaceful river, its valley hardly touched by tourism. Today some accommodation is available near the border and canoe trips are on offer. The riverbed is sandy and the water clean and clear. In some places the water is used for irrigating table grape and citrus plantations.
The Orange river has created the diamond fields at the Namibian coast. Over millions of years it washed diamonds from the Kimberley region in South Africa into the ocean. The currents of the ocean transported them to the north and the surf deposited them in the dune fields of the Namib.
From the border village of Noordoewer a sandy road, often running directly along the river, leads to the mining town of Rosh Pinah. This stretch is one of the most beautiful routes in Namibia. There is free camping almost everywhere along the river.
The road also passes through the restricted diamond zone, which begins in the west and stretches across a vast area along the Namibian coast. You could really find diamonds here, which is why it is prohibited to stop in the area or even leave the road. Not so long ago, new extensive diamond deposits were discovered on the farm Aussenkehr on the Oranje. Stopping or leaving the road is not allowed within the restricted diamond area. Oranjemund is off-limits for visitors. Some kilometres before Rosh Pinah, however, one can cross the river to get to the Sendelingsdrif border post in South Africa and it is possible to visit the Richtersveld National Park. A small car ferry operates daily from 9 to 17:00. For a drive through the Richtersveld Park a four-wheel drive is required.
Rosh Pinah is a busy industrial town. Here the South African Anglo-American corporation is doing zinc mining on a large scale. The metal is transported on trucks to Luederitz for shipment. For this reason the C13 road from Rosh Pinah to Aus has been tarrred.
Travel information and accommodation
Left: Aerial of the Orange Valley. Top: The Orange River near the Farm Aussenkehr.