Orange River – Thunder Alley, Hopetown NC

No Passports required, central to all major cities, plenty of fun rapids and nights around the campfire!

Near Hopetown in the Northern Cape, this is the most centrally located section of the Orange River and can be run at a wide range of water levels. You can join a group or arrange your own private trip.

The landscape consists of rolling hills where game is often spotted and includes a beautiful basalt gorge. There are lots of small, fun rapids and two slightly more challenging runs which can be portaged.  This is the best option for first timers, families with younger kids, school groups or anyone looking for a relaxed back to nature trip.


We have various packages available including a low season discount and various optional add-ons – let us know if you have questions. Ask us about our River Safari and school and student discounted rates.


Kit List



Why Gravity?

Gravity has an unwavering attitude towards quality and safety on all of their trips – some of the aspects which make Gravity one of the leading adventure companies in SA include the following;

  • All inclusive – 2 nights in base camp and ALL meals – no hidden extras
  • Small groups – for safety and environmental reasons
  • Only APA qualified guides, in the recommended guide: client ratios
  • Top notch equipment
  • The best in bush cuisine – all fresh prepared on river
  • Undiscovered sections of river – no crowds
  • No border crossings or passports

Are you a member of APA?

Yes, we are Operating Members of APA and our guides are APA members, trained, qualified and experienced.

Do you have your SAMSA Licence to Operate?

Yes we do, we were the first rafting operator to become compliant with the law.

What does the trip include?

It includes all of your meals, from the evening of your arrival, to a light breakfast on the morning of your departure, camping at base camp on your first and last nights, 4 full days and 3 nights on river (3 days and 2 nights if doing a 3 day, 4 night trip), qualified and experienced guides, all boating and safety equipment and no, you don’t have to bring your own loo paper! We also provide crockery and cutlery.

How do I get up to the river?

You can drive up in your own vehicle or we can recommend a vehicle rental company or coach with driver. The road is a good tar road all the way up from Cape Town and takes around 9 hours. The road is also good tar coming in from the Gauteng direction. The last section of +/- 50 kms to the camp is usually a good dirt road. This road does, however, become difficult after heavy rain (not common in this area). We recommend that you contact the Pofadder Police Station (tel: 054 933 0022) or Onseepkans Police Station (054 951 0002) to check the condition of the road and choose the alternative route if required. Full directions will be supplied on confirmation of booking. We can also make recommend accommodation en route for you if you’d like to do the drive over two days. Fly in tours can also be arranged.

Do I need my passport?

No, you don’t. The trip starts and ends on the South African side so no border crossing is required.

What are the camping facilities like?

Our base camp is a grassed campsite on the river banks. Rustic ablutions and flush toilets are provided. On river, we’ll be free camping – all catering equipment is supplied. You can also upgrade to a dome tent or to a nearby guest house for the nights in base camp.

What about ablutions?

On river, your guide will give you a thorough briefing regarding ablution procedures. Generally, you will wash in the river – we don’t supply showers or hot water on standard trips but these are provided on upgrade trips. We usually use the environmentally friendly ‘cat hole’ toilet method (don’t worry – your guide will explain!) but, depending on the season and the size of your group, may also provide a porta-loo.

What do I need to bring?

A full kit list will be supplied on confirmation of booking. Remember that whatever you choose to bring will get very dirty so don’t bring your new clothes!

Will my clothes & sleeping bags get wet?

There are no guarantees on a river trip but it’s extremely unlikely – you will be supplied with a dry-bag, which will keep your clothes dry even if the bag lands in the water. You can also pack your clothes into black bags inside the dry bags to make sure. Your guides will explain to you the best way to pack your bags. Space is sufficient but limited so don’t bring too much with you.

Can I bring my camera?

Yes. Although there can be no guarantees on a river trip, we do provide watertight dry buckets for cameras, binoculars etc. It is also worth considering buying a disposable waterproof camera.

Do I need to be fit? What if I’m not a strong swimmer?

Although this is an exciting trip, the distance covered over the four days is not very long (about 37kms) so you don’t have to be an athlete to do the trip. A reasonable level of fitness and good health is required, though. Temperatures can be extreme, especially in summer so please bear this in mind. There is no age limit but you should familiarise yourself with what the trip entails and make an informed decision on your ability to participate, based on your own fitness. Our general recommendation is a minimum age of 8 years and a maximum of 70. Expectant mothers are welcome – up to about 4 months along. Each client is issued with a PFD (’Lifejacket’) and is instructed on how to handle him or herself in the water, you don’t need to be a strong swimmer but please let us know if you are not confident in the water. There is always the option to walk around rapids you are not happy to do. You also have the option of requesting a very stable raft, which is steered by a guide (dependent on water level – medium and high levels only)

Is it difficult to steer the boats? Will I fall out?

We use 2 person inflatable ‘crocs’ that are very stable and easy to paddle, even for beginners. This section of river has lots of fun rapids and a few challenging runs. There is therefore quite a good chance that you’ll have at least one swim! You will be equipped with a PFD (‘lifejacket’) and will have been given instruction on exactly how to behave if you fall out of your boat. We also use only highly trained guides who will be on hand to rescue you if required. You also have the option of requesting our very stable 5-person raft, which is steered by a guide (dependent on water level– medium and high levels only).

Is it safe? What about if I hurt myself?

Whilst there is an inherent element of risk in every adventure, running rivers with our professional guides should not be considered dangerous. Our guides are all trained in First Aid and we carry a First Aid kit. It is your responsibility to inform the guides about any allergies or medical conditions you may have and to make sure you have any personal medication with you (e.g. asthma pumps, allergy medication etc.). This trip does take place in a remote wilderness environment where evacuation can be difficult and time consuming but we have put plans in place to cope with any emergencies. We do not carry a sat phone as there is cell coverage from high points at various locations along the river. In general, evacuation by helicopter is not possible due to the rough terrain and the distance from the nearest helicopter but in our 19 years of operation, we have not needed it!

What about my drinks?

Gravity provides all meals but you can bring your own choice of drinks. We will supply you with cooler boxes but if you intend bringing a large amount of canned drinks, it is worth it to bring your own cooler box as well. It’s also a good idea to bring drink mix such as Game, which can be mixed with water – purified water will be supplied at each stop.

Is the water safe to drink?

Generally, the water is clean enough to drink but we use water purification tablets to be on the safe side.

What will the weather be like?

In summer (September-April), days are very hot (30-40 degrees) and the nights are also warm. In between seasons, the days are still warm but the nights can be quite cool – a change of warm clothing and a good sleeping bag are required. In winter (June-August), days are warm (20-25 degrees) and nights (and water) are cold. The rainy season is late summer but since this is a semi-arid region, rain is not a frequent occurrence. Thunderstorms do sometimes occur but are usually over quickly.

What will the meals be like?

We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the best in bush cuisine. All meals are prepared fresh on the river and consist of hearty, healthy main courses, followed by desert. Sundowner snacks are also served.

Why restrict group sizes?

We generally limit our group sizes to less than 24 per group – small groups are easier to control and, therefore, safer and the negative impact on the environment is minimised. Finally, we have found that a small group size results in a better and more intimate trip for our clients.

Any other restrictions?

The APA code of safety requires us to warn you against consuming alcohol or drugs in the 8 hours preceding the trip as well as at all times on the water.

How do I book?

To book, we will need a completed booking form as well as a 40% deposit into the following account: Gravity River Tours, FNB, Claremont branch: 200109, account: 623 790 739 60. Your booking is NOT confirmed until we have received both completed the form and payment. Please make sure to reference your deposit with your name and the dates of your trip e.g. “Smith Gorge Dec 12-15”.

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