After putting it out there to the Universe a couple of weeks back, Big U kicked into action almost immediately and we found ourselves on our way to our first family adventure of 2017 – No.15 Something Wet. (An Open Letter to the Universe – #17adventures)
First up on our 2017 adventure experiences was a family kayak and lilo adventure with Untouched Adventures up the Storms River Gorge. We prefer to gift each other experiences instead of things, and this was Ralph’s present for his New Year birthday. Paddling up a pristine gorge on bright red kayaks and heavy duty lilos sounded incredible and we decided to make a weekend of it with camping in the Storms River National Park.
Now as you probably know by now, I am not a happy camper, but this mode of accommodation is about the only thing that suits our post-Canada pockets. Even on my list it is way up there above staying at home and working. And let’s face it, if I can camp wild in the Rocky Mountains, then Storms River which is rated as one of South Africa’s top campgrounds should be a doddle.
And besides campsite thieves and a singed fringe it was… but more about that just now.
The kayak and lilo adventure was truly out-of-this-world AMAZING! We booked the first time slot at 9am, and headed down to the beach on a perfectly sunny summers day. We were issued with aqua booties and wet suits and geared up before joining our guides Romano and Everton and the rest of our group for a pre-session briefing. When the sea is calm, the kayaks depart right from the small beach below the old restaurant, but as the swells were huge and angry, we first hiked to the jetty below the suspension bridge.
Once on our double kayaks, we paddled out below the suspension bridge – the swells were enormous! Then we made our way up river through the narrow gorge, to a cave full of squeaking bats. Romano explained that this was where the sailors from logging ships would camp while they waited for the timber from forests up river to arrive on rafts before being transferred to ships and sailed around the world.
We continued up river, under towering cliffs with water dripping from bright green moss on the red cliff faces. All too soon we arrived at the first set of rocky rapids, where we tethered our boats and transferred to heavy duty lilos.
Oh my word, what fun! Our age difference melted away as we paddled in the dark water and by the time we were trying to stand up on our lilos (most of us failing spectacularly), we were just a bunch of kids laughing and splashing in the river. Smiles all around as we lilo surfed, jumped off the cliffs into a deep rock pool, played with a cormorant that was swimming with us and lay back with our head in our hands, floating down river while gazing at the magnificent vertical rock faces towering above us.
Most of our group were from overseas – a trio of friends from Sweden, a young USA couple and a family from Italy. It’s funny how people fly across the globe to do this sort of adventure and those of us who live right here often don’t bother. The overseas crowd all told us how lucky we are to live in such a magnificent country, with so much to do right on our doorstep and we wholeheartedly agreed with them.
Back to the camping – in our flurry of activity throwing gear into our Kombi for the weekend and rushing to get to our destination before dark, I forgot to pre-reserve our camp site and when we arrived just before sunset all our first choices were already taken. We figured we would stick with the one that was allocated to us, but to our dismay someone had already struck up a very impressive and permanent looking camp in our site.
Kind of like being the last to arrive at the movies and finding other people in your seats.
We felt bad to ask them to move, so we struck camp in an empty site at the end of the lot. Setting up camp is a lot of PT, but the kids all pitched in and within an hour we had two tents filled with blow up mattresses and a lovely kitchen and dining area around a built in braai. It was at this point that the person who had actually been allocated this camp site arrived and he was not too pleased that we had made his site our home. But there was NO WAY we were moving – and so we spent our first night feeling like campsite thieves, compounded by the glares from Mr Late and his friends who erected their tent right next to us.
“And the singed fringe?” I hear you ask. That’s what happens when you forget to change the power setting from the Canadian 110 volts to SA’s formidable 220 volts on your international travel hairdryer. I am a firm believer that I can cope with anything life throws my way, as long as I have a straight fringe. So as I plugged my dryer into the camping cable, aimed it at my errant bangs and saw an alarming amount of smoke together with a horrible burnt hair smell, I knew I was in trouble. What was left of my fringe was dead straight with a strange crispy texture. Grrrrr I thought as I donned my cap over my wrecked facade…..bloody camping!
When we got back from the morning’s adventure, we threw everything back in the kombi together with our dignity, and held our heads high ignoring the strange stares as we picked up our tents and walked them half a kilometre down the road to a recently vacated campsite right on the sea front.
This pleased the camping gods, and we were rewarded with an afternoon nap with a view, a magnificent sunset braai and a sweet night’s sleep to the lullaby of the Indian Ocean.
Thank you Universe for this most amazing family adventure!
Check out the highlights on our Kayak & Lilo adventure on YouTube:
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