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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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Accomodation

The Beauty of Brahman Hills, Midlands

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Our Durbanite contributors, Shelley and her mother, Carmen were invited to experience Brahman Hills, their spa as well as the Midlands Kitchen.

Read more on what they had to say about it.

“I had been to Brahman Hills back in March with two of my friends, and I absolutely loved it! So you can imagine my delight when I would be returning, but this time with my mom.

We left our busy little city of Umhlanga and made our way towards Brahman Hills. The drive there is fairly quick and accessible, taking only an hour and a half.

THE MIDLANDS KITCHEN

Before arriving at Brahman Hills, we decided to try out The Midlands Kitchen.

The Midlands Kitchen is an eating area which hosts 15 kitchens, including Mexican, Mediterranean, Burgers, Chicken, Pizza, Indian and Vegan dishes. There’s also a harvest table for instant artisan fresh meals.

We loved the fact that is is both kid and pet-friendly!

We sat down and our waitress promptly greeted us while handing us menus to browse through. We were given a card with a table number on it. This is for The Midlands Kitchen to keep track of our orders throughout our visit.

I ordered a vegan dish which was a Cauliflower-based burger, while my mom opted for the spring-chicken burger. We added on two cappuccinos to go with our order.

The food was DELICIOUS! We were both delighted to have made the right choice, but I’m sure with any one of their options, it would never be a disappointment.

We ended off our meal with an ice cream cone each from their gelato station. Oh, and can we make a note that this was undoubtably the yummiest gelato? I mean, they had Nutella flavoured ice cream!

On our way out, we grabbed two chocolate croissants for later indulgence, because… why not?

BRAHMAN HILLS SPA

After our lunch at The Midlands Kitchen, we arrived at Brahman Hills to check into our room. We were seated in the lounge area and offered tea/coffee while our room and key was being organised.

We checked in to the most beautiful little hotel with a private garden all to ourselves!

After a quick power nap, we headed out to the much talked about spa. We were excited to experience our treatments in the countryside.

At the spa, we both had a full body massage with an exfoliation and soak off in a bath. Beforehand, we got to choose which essential oils we would like. We both opted for lavender which helps with stress and sleep.

After our massages, we headed upstairs to get a mani & pedi done. There’s nothing quite like getting a mani while watching the cows roam around outside in the open. So incredibly relaxing!

My perfect mani from Brahman Hills spa

89 ON COPPER

For dinner we had the pleasure of dining at the incredibly beautiful 89 on Copper restaurant which is underground in a cellar-like environment.

We had the two-course dinner. Both of us chose the rib wing for mains, and had the cheesecake & brownie for dessert.

Can we talk about how pretty this restaurant is?
We loved the holes in the walls where different bottles of wine was stored!

BREAKFAST AT BRAHMAN CAFE

We woke up early to start off the day with breakfast Brahman cafe.
We had the choice of choosing which breakfast we wanted.


Never in my life have I had such a good start to the day with their breakfast!

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If you’re ever in the Midlands, do yourself a favour and pop into the Midlands Kitchen and of course, Brahman Hills!

Phone: +27 (0)33 266 6965
Mobile: +27 (0) 81 370 9478
Email: reservations@brahmanhills.co.za
Address: Old Curry’s Post Road, Mount West, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

www.brahmanhills.co.za

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Accomodation

REVIEW: Shayamanzi House Boats, Jozini

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Experience the first Houseboats in South Africa – the only ones of their kind: Shayamanzi Houseboats.

Soak up the stunning scenery of the Lebombo Mountains and superb wildlife of the Pongola Game Reserve on the shores of Lake Jozini (also known as Pongolapoort Dam). Enjoy the calm serenity of the open Lake Jozini waters, the thrill of Tiger Fishing or the adventure of Mountain Biking in the heart of the Zululand bushveld! Shayamanzi is about taking time out to appreciate Africa’s special wonders.

We were recently invited to experience a stay on the Shayamanzi Houseboat.

“Shayamanzi Houseboats are based in Jozini Dam and has for some time offered a cruise with a difference onboard their houseboats.

We took the 3 and a half hour drive from Durban and made our way to Jozini Tiger Lodge where we met our host and the rest of the guests.
We then boarded the Shayamanzi II Houseboat where we were given a welcoming drink and set off on our journey with our very able and competent captain, Alan at the helm.

John our host, made everyone feel so welcome with his warm and hospitable nature as he got everyone relaxed and looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead.

We moored at our first stop where 2 small tender boats were used to take us to view wildlife and also to try our luck at tiger fishing.

Lucky and Bheki, the 2 crew members that were assigned to each tender boat were so helpful as they baited up and helped everyone. After a fun afternoon out, we made our way back to Shayamanzi for a rewarding hot shower and then all met up in the dining area to have drinks and wait for our supper. We were all served a delicious 3-course meal.

After dinner we all settled in the lounge, partying and exchanging stories, getting to know the other guests.

Shayamanzi

View from our cabin

With the following morning being overcast, it didn’t damper our spirits and so we went on the tender boats again! But not before we finished a scrumptious  breakfast.
On our boat trip, we were blessed to have seen hippos, elephants, crocodiles and fish eagles. Truly a remarkable sight, and not something you get to see everyday all in one place!

For the rest of the day, we relaxed in the jacuzzi while the men caught tiger fish off the back of the boat. Words cannot describe the wonderful feeling one gets whilst viewing the game in their natural environment from the comfort of a houseboat, whilst still being able to fish for tiger fish at the same time.

The last day we were all so sad to leave as we had 4 incredible days of fishing, game watching, laughing, dancing, eating glorious food and getting to know new people.

Shayamanzi

The wonderful, helpful crew at Shayamanzi

We would highly recommend this unique cruise if you would like to get close to wildlife and still have some luxury thrown in for measure.”

To book a Shayamanzi Cruise:

Tel: +27 (0) 34 413 2299
Fax: +27 (0) 34 413 2396

Address: P.O. Box 1070, Pongola, 3170, South Africa
E-mail: shayamanzi@saol.com

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Attractions

Review: Goldfish Live in Durban

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Durban has a history of attracting rain when big live events happen, and thankfully on Friday night at Botanic Gardens, this did not deter the few thousand people that turned up to see Goldfish in the slightest.

Knowing it was going to be a bigger event they made the smart move of having the concert on the field next to the actual gardens, and thankfully so because of the wet conditions. It is lovely seeing bands perform amongst the trees next to the lake, but when you know you are going to have a huge crowd that Goldfish pull it’s an all round better experience that means everybody who comes gets a great view of the performance.

Jono Greenway Photography

The rain was always going to be a feature of the event, but thankfully it only rained as Goldfish started and then stayed dry for most of their performance, with most people happily dancing in the rain barely even noticing it. Some of my most memorable concerts I have been to are actually the ones where it has rained, maybe the performers put in a bit extra effort knowing that the people really want to be there and see them, even if it is raining.

And a performance it was. Goldfish never disappoint. They are masters of getting a crowd going, even if it is a cold rainy night in Durban. Despite being at it for many years now they thrive on the crowd interaction and still do such a great job of ensuring everybody who comes to watch them has a great time.

Jono Greenway Photography

Their second song “We Come Together” really summed up the night, the lyrics really rang true:
Oh, oh, when we come together
No matter the weather
We gonna love each other till the end of time (whoa, oh, oh)

If we all went through life with this attitude we might always have a good time, rain or shine.

….

Photo Credit: Jono Greenway

Want to get to know the duo better? Check out the short Q&A sesh we did with Goldfish a few years ago.

Jono Greenway Photography

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