Charley Boorman Log- Days 41+42

July 27, 2012

In which Charley visits the Orange River and reaches Port Nolloth.

Orange River TravelWe have another travel day ahead of us, leaving the Kgalagadi and heading for Port Nolloth on the west coast. It’s a journey of over 800km and we’re breaking it up with an overnight stop at Khamkirri Lodge on the Orange River. This amazing “Glampsite” is full of character with a creaky rope bridge between the bar and the giant, raised tents complete with baths! It also helps that a few very friendly cats roam the site and are always happy to sit on a weary traveller’s lap. But as we pull in, we find out our day isn’t over yet. The nearby Augrabies waterfall is a must see and it shuts at 5pm.

The trouble is, it’s twenty minutes away and the time is Quarter-to. One of the guys at the lodge volunteers to drive us and the race against the clock is on! Speeding down quiet country lanes through vineyards, banking tightly round corners and flooring it on the straights, he gets us to the gate of the Falls just in time – but now we face a greater challenge. As with most national parks in South Africa, it’s cheap for natives to get in, but expensive for tourists. Our driver bluffs us in, saying we’re South African. High speed racing down quiet roads we’re comfortable with, but let’s just say Russ’s South African accent is something I may never be able to forget.

Waterfall The falls are indeed spectacular, and as the sun sets over the misty waters, we head back across the Orange River under dazzling skies, for a drink on Khamkirri’s riverside terrace and a meal around the fire.

Leaving at dawn, we rev the engines and reach for the coast. Port Nolloth is a small, often forgotten seaside town best known for it’s offshore diamond mining. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Orange River flushed diamonds from the surrounding rocks into the bays off the coast and today a entire industry thrives on sucking the diamonds out of the sea bed from giant rigs, small boats and even some hopeful prospectors working from the beaches.

We’re planning to get on one of those diamond boats but there’s a problem. Security is understandably tight and despite some positive noises from the companies involved, no-one has said for sure we can go with them.

Arriving at Port Nolloth in blazing sunshine, we are introduced to an old diving miner, George and his amazing, eccentric house that doubles as a museum of the diamond boats. We have a great chat with him about his time under the waves but he can’t offer us any help in getting out to sea.

Retiring to one of Port Nolloth’s fantastic, quirky restaurants we make some more phonecalls and wait. Eventually, a mix of messages from London, helpful locals and a pinch of luck get us the news we we needed – tomorrow morning at first light, we’re going diamond hunting!

For more action follow us @extremefrontier