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Review: Untouched Adventures in Eastern Cape

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Storms River Mouth. Sounds a bit ominous, but far from it. Painted by nature’s paintbrush, Storms River Mouth is a sensory overload of clean, crisp air, various hues of azure blue, flanked by mountains and indigenous forest. With sea foam and gulls settling on the compacted rock jutting off the coast, seagulls chant whilst waves roar. Sea mist, like a veil glides above the ocean while a Rock Dassie noisily chomps on some of the greenery in the car park. (And later, Jason’s finger.)

A backdrop of ocean and beaches unfolds between the verdant allure of Tsitsikamma as we wind down a pale road curving through thick wooded forests. At the end of the car park is where you will find beauty untouched and adventure that awaits with Untouched Adventures.

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“Would you like to hire a wet suit?” Estelle, from behind the counter asked. I am not entirely sure why this was even posed as a question. That’s a yes from me. Kitted with our wet suits (which immediately differentiated us from the British tourists) and non-slip booties, we met our guides and fellow adventure buddies. Advising that the engines (the females) sit in the front, and act as the power machines. The engine is not to stop paddling. The heavier of the two acts as the captain, who guides the kayak (and also paddles, so I should hope.) A bit embarrassing if you’re the heavier partner…Fortunately Jason eats a lot. Unfortunately, I did paddle a lot. Apparently laziness is not a disease that they needed to be aware of. This is the part where my arms and I came to terms that we will probably not be friends by the end of this trip.

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THE ADVENTURE

Our river guides, or tour guide comedians Allister and Patrick took us on our journey of beauty, adventure and laughter. Through the ocean, in single file, our kayak harpooned through the water’s surface. I was She-Hulk and had visions of grandeur of now racing the Dusi, it obviously couldn’t be that hard…

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Above us, the suspension bridge where the true adventure starts was fast approaching. The British group members were quick to hand out peace signs as we became the photography subject to the Asian tourists above.

The river slinks into a curving and narrow gorge.  Where salt water meets fresh water. A halo of sunlight enters through the ravine, illuminating the faceted steep rocks that tower overhead. Sitting on a rock, a cormorant bird relaxes. A fever of sting rays pass us by. “Steve Irvin was killed by a Sting Ray.” Allister comments. Thanks Allister.
Like cars lined up at a car wash, sharks and rays gather to rid themselves of dead skin and parasites in the river mouth. Ah ha! So this was the ominous part about Storms River, the beauty was but a mere sham. Although convinced it was simply a scene from Shark Tale, I wasn’t too keen on meeting Will Smith and threaten Jason not to capsize us. But enthralled by the splendour of the canyon, it soon didn’t matter what lurked beneath.

We were lead into the bat cave. No seriously, no DC comic joke here. Here we were educated on the habitat and fascinating habits of the various bat species in the area. While admiring the glory of the grand cavern, liquid dropped on my face. Gasp! My poor eyesight fixed on the cave ceiling, scanning the rocks for bats. Fortunately Batman and his possie were off solving crime and doing detective stuff, and no bat had urinated on my face. (Okay, so I lied about the “no DC comic joke”.)
Informed that we were breathing what could possibly be the purest air, evident by the interesting formation of algae on the rock wall. “This is not one of Patrick’s handy work with his paint brush.” We were told. Thank goodness, because Patrick needs some practice.

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Too shallow to continue, we disembarked our vessels of transportation for another floatation device. Lilos. Watching the rivers natural ebb and flow, we hopped onto the lilos and flowed up the shallow river over the rocks. As we gently paddled around the river, we reached Untouched Adventures’ natural playground. Here we formed our small version of the Olympics where Patrick umpired and refereed. South Africa vs Spain vs England. Mind you, I’ve never achieved a head stand on dry land, so I’m not entirely sure what made me believe I’d be successful on a lilo. This was where I did not make South Africa proud and did a not-so-graceful roly-poly into the river. Grateful for the wet suit.

After frolicking on the lilos, masking my face with iron from the rocks, and with the sun rays on our backs we paddled towards the cliff jumping. It was at this point where Jason asked me what happened to my face. “Sunscreen.”  I gleamed. But a little offended. (It was only later that afternoon when I popped into the bathroom that I realized why Jason had a look of horror and bemusement. Pasted orange, I looked like a kid who got into the make-up bag of someone with a MUCH darker skin complexion.)

Go big or go home, right? Well, not keen on leaving paradise any time soon, I braved the cliff jump. Afraid of heights, I switched my mind off. (Fortunately, it switched on again as I remembered to close my legs while coming down. Something I learned from a YouTube video “fail”.) Incredibly surreal. Jumping off a cliff into a river, flanked by rock face that towered above us, with scenic views unimaginable. I couldn’t help but pinch myself as our trip sadly came to an end- with memories that will last a life time.

Fortunately my arms had not turned to jelly.

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What – UNTOUCHED ADVENTURES

Where – Tsitsikamma National Park, Eastern Cape (Garden Route).

Contact:

https://www.untouchedadventures.com/   |  bookings@untouchedadventures.com

Follow Untouched Adventures on Instagram. I know I do!

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Perfect for the whole family.

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Attractions

SPLASHY FEN MUSIC FESTIVAL IS READY FOR YOU

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Splashy Fen has 4 unique stage areas, over 150 local musicians, yoga, trail running, drumming, belly dancing, and didgeridoo classes, campsite flag competitions, a local SA day, a creative craft market, and inviting food court, silent disco, pop-up parties, dedicated kid-zone, art in the forest, cocktail viewing deck, Easter egg hunt, Sunday Easter service and so much more… not to mention fresh open air, star-speckled campfires, and glorious mountain views… all surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people who are grateful to be back on the Splashy Fen Farm after two years of being away.

The countdown to Splashy Fen is finally over!

This time next week, festival-goers will be lapping up the fresh mountain air as they embark on a 4-day sensorial experience at the 31st edition of the Splashy Fen Music Festival. Local duo Liam and Jane Magner of Veranda Panda are two such fans, who have been eagerly awaiting their return to Splashy Fen.

Veranda Panda

“Splashy Fen is a part of who we are now,” says Liam. It’s a kind of annual pilgrimage that helps us to reset, re-think and centre ourselves. Personally, my first Splashy Fen was an incredible experience. I remember being struck by the sense of freedom, kindness, and community. In recent years the festival has really managed to rekindle that spirit.“

When asked, as artists, how the pair coped through the early Covid months, they too were shaken to their core but have used the experience to adapt and find positivity in their challenges. “The whole experience has been horribly divisive and has definitely left the world with a hangover of mistrust and fear. We suffered financially in the first year as we lost every single performance job over the space of two weeks. We are grateful to have had other revenue streams, but it took us a while to adapt. However, we have changed for the better. Living through chaos, and coming out the other side, has helped us see things more clearly.”

Fans can catch this electrifying Durban act and listen the some of the great new music they have been creating, at 20h30 on Friday night at the Corona Splashy Fen Main Stage. Other acts to catch on Friday night in the impressive dome marquee include Mali Zulu, 4 AM, Steve Umcolo, a heart-warming Johnny Clegg Tribute, and Mango Groove.

Mango Groove (Mark Andrews © Daily Dispatch)

“We cannot wait to see Good Luck, Mango Groove, and Sean Koch this year,” says Magner. “But also, hanging out, laughing, relaxing, and meeting people is the part that we love the most. We have always been a fan of the energy between people there. Something magical happens under those mountains and for a few days, people are good to each other. We can’t wait.

Fans can take advantage of Splashy Fen’s brand new App. Log on and see who is performing when and where, find your friends, and build your own festival experience with reminders, updates, live tracking, and interactive community chats. The App is FREE to download here or visit http://woov.to/splashyfen

South Africa’s longest-running music festival will take place over the traditional Easter weekend from next Thursday the 14th of April to Monday the 18th of April 2022, and tickets are still available online or at the gate.

Buy Tickets Here or visit https://splashyfen.howler.co.za/events/splashy-fen-2022-e8fc

Visit Website: www.splashyfen.co.za

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THE COUNTDOWN FOR SPLASHY FEN MUSIC FESTIVAL HAS BEGUN

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The show will go on… in the rolling foothills of the Drakensberg as fans eagerly count down the days until the 2022 Splashy Fen Music Festival kicks off, after a 2 year covid-induced break. And as is to be expected, plans are well underway to ensure that festival goers get to enjoy the very best of local music talent, a beautiful outdoor environment, and a chance to be around like-minded people all longing for a sense of freedom and normality.

South Africa’s longest-running music festival will take place over the traditional Easter weekend from Thursday the 14th of April to Monday the 18th of April 2022, and a stellar line-up of local musicians has been released to get fans even more excited for a long-weekend of LIVE entertainment.

“It has been absolutely devastating to have missed out on two years of hosting Splashy Fen Music Festival”, says Splashy Fen Festival Director Stu Berry. “Not just for our fans, but for the musicians and artists who have had to struggle without work for so long. This is why this is a particularly special event for us, as we work together to reignite the LIVE music scene and to prioritise our local artists in the process. To say we are excited for the Easter long weekend is an understatement.”

Thursday will kick off the festivities with a selection of musicians across the 4 unique stage areas. Fans can look forward to the sounds of the Honeymooners, Mahala, Holy Funk, Isigqisasekhaya, and Freddy-L on the Acoustic Stage. The Treehouse Stage will host Lindo M, Angel Mazibuko, The Kickstands, and more; while The Main Stage area will be quiet on Thursday, but only for those not wearing the Silent Disco headsets blasting a selection of golden oldies and latest dance releases.

Friday’s line-up will include Hayden Rattray, Nipho Hurd, Jason Gladwin, Faraway George, Zen Garden, and more on the Acoustic Stage; Shawn Miller, Dawn Morey, David Fisher and a selection of DJs at the funky Treehouse Stage; while the River Stage will blast the sounds of Tanner Wareham, Out Cry and South Wolves from 10h45, and the Main Stage festivities will kick off with Mali Zulu, 4AM, Steve Umculo, Veranda Panda and the legendary Mango Groove.

The Main Stage will open with Abaqgqobi on Saturday afternoon from 5 pm, followed by Martin Gill, Neon Dreams, the Jägermeister Brass Cartel, Goodluck, and all-time crowd-pleasers Mi Casa. Fans can also catch 4AM, The Kickstands, Faraway George and Full Swing at the River Stage from 10h45; Seth & Reece, Tiaan the Muzo, Gav Ferguson, Matt Gardiner, and Jared Volschenk on the Treehouse Stage; and South Bear, TATUM, Apollo Motel, Rowan Stuart and more on the Acoustic Stage in the Food Court area.

The final day of the festival will not disappoint, with a jam-packed line-up to remind fans why LIVE music and entertainment are so good for the soul. Catch Kat & Kirst, Upbeat Demeanour, Musa Mashiane, and more on the Treehouse Stage from midday; wander over to the Acoustic Stage for some Rorke Hunter, Braxton Hix, Qadasi & Maqhinga, Robin Auld, and Sol Natives, head down to the river for a refreshing dip while enjoying the sounds of the Bradley Grey Band, The Mavericks, Crystal Park and Zebra, then back up to the festival site for some Main Stage awesomeness with Bad Peter, Sean Koch, Rubber DUC, Desmond and the Tutus and Jeremy Loops.

A very limited amount of tickets are still available on the Splashy Fen website: www.splashyfen.co.za. No day visitors will be allowed to the 2022 festival, and Covid protocols will be announced to ticket holders in the weeks leading up to the festival. For any additional information, please email the team at info@splashyfen.co.za.

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Attractions

Durban Botanic Gardens Trail of Lights Gets the Green-light for 2021

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 “It has been touch and go as to whether the 2021 event would even be able to take place this year,” says Alene Naidoo, Organiser of The Durban Botanic Gardens Trail of Lights. “Last year was such a disappointment, when we had to close early, due to covid regulations; but we are have received the go-ahead from eThekweni Municipality and barring any major announcements from the President, we are optimistic that the 2021 show WILL go ahead as planned – kicking off on 3 December 2021.  This has been a challenging year in every way and this year’s event offers a celebratory moment for us all.”


Now in its fifth year, The Trail of Lights is a firm fixture on both the City and the Gardens’ festive season calendar,” says Martin Clement, Curator of the historical Gardens.  “We are grateful that our various media partners including East Coast Radio and Independent on Saturday, have joined with us again to bring Durban’s favourite festive event to as many people as possible. We are all desperate for some year-end relaxation and fun and that’s what you’ll get at The Trail of Lights.” 

With the Gardens festooned with thousands of lights, 2021 is sure to delight visitors of all ages, with world class lighting displays, nightly entertainment, charity activations, a food garden and festive characters.


The Trail of Lights will open on 3 December 2021 and run until 2 January 2022.   To meet protocol requirements and ensure the safety of patrons, key operational changes have implemented this year.  Most significantly, the introduction of three entry times at 18:00, 19:00 and 20:00 respectively.  This will allow for social distancing, as families can navigate their way around the trail before the next group arrives. There will be no ticket sales at the door.

The Trail of Lights takes place from 3 December 2021 to the 3 January 2022, excluding Christmas Day, in Africa’s oldest botanical gardens.
Tickets are extremely limited and NO tickets will be available at the door. Children two years and under enter for free.

Tickets are available from www.webtickets.co.za or Pick ‘n Pay.

TIMES & PRICES:

18:00 Entry R70 per person
19:00 Entry R65 per person
20:00 Entry R60 per person

 

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