The River Raconteur
Danie Van Zyl

Danie Van Zyl


"We've got a mountain bike course that goes through red dunes and crystal ridges"

"We've got a mountain bike course that goes through red dunes and crystal ridges"

Hi Danie. Can you tell us about yourself please?

I’m an outdoor adventure guide. I moved here to The Green Kalahari to be able to wake up every morning to all this; for my family to live in nature like we’re supposed to. The biggest city is Upington, about 80 miles away from us. The border to Namibia is about 43 miles north. And we’ve got Augrabies Falls National Park right on our doorstep.

What is The Green Kalahari?

This is the vein of life that runs through the desert, where South Africa’s longest river meets the Kalahari, with beautiful vineyards and trees, beyond, which it’s desert. There’s scenery and birdlife, fishing and canoeing, mountain biking and hiking. The Northern Cape is the biggest province in South Africa and probably the least explored, but they say that once you’ve got the red sand under your toenails you’ll always come back.

What’s the best way to explore the river?

River rafting. We go down a section of the Orange River with some rapids — just big enough to get the blood pumping. You paddle your own craft down there. The river has a very mild, mile-long section for families, and very wild, longer sections as well. For the extreme adventurer, we can organise multi-day rafting journeys up and over the border.

What’s the most extreme activity on offer?

We’ve got a mountain bike course that goes through the most spectacular areas — red dunes to rocky, mountainous areas and crystal ridges. It’s very challenging, but fun. Every year, in our cooler winter season, the Trans-Augrabies Mountain Bike Stage Race takes place here: it’s three days and around 155 miles.

What kind of wildlife can you see?

Springbok, gemsbok and beautiful birds, including Marshall eagles and black eagles. But the Kalahari, for me, is about the little things — the Augrabies flat lizard with its beautiful colours, the scorpions, the little ants. If you take time and walk around, or even get down on your hands and knees, you’ll see the magic of the desert.

Read the Meet Your South Africa magazine here

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