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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

SOUTH AFRICA’S FRIENDLIEST FESTIVAL RETURNS!

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SPLASHY FEN IS SET TO WELCOME 3000 FANS AFTER A 2 YEAR BREAK.

3 000 eager fans can let out a sigh of relief, as the promise of another beautiful Splashy Fen Music Festival is confirmed by event organisers, Impi Concept Events. Finally, something to look forward to, Easter 2022 is set to be one to remember as the Splashy Fen Farm in Underberg, KZN is once again transformed into a magical music festival for those who have been missing out not only on the festival’s traditional music, arts, crafts and lifestyle festivities, but a sense of freedom and normality.

Tell your friends, gather your families, mark your calendars and get ready to secure your limited #splashy2022 ticket to what will truly be the best, most anticipated, Splashy Fen Music Festival ever. 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 tickets, which are limited to 3000, will open on Wednesday the 6th of October.


All ticket holders from the cancelled 2020 festival will have first dibs on purchasing tickets for next year’s event. These 2020 ‘ticket holders’ will be sent an exclusive clickable link via email, which gives them access to buy the same amount of tickets as they had in 2020 at the discounted Otter Club ticket price. There will be a 2 week period in which to purchase these discounted tickets, thereafter, general and normal priced ticket sales will open to the public. Those who became a #splashyhero back in 2020 when they donated a portion of their 2020 ticket to the festival, will be eligible for the promised 20% discount – which will be applied to the Otter Club ticket price.

The year 2020 would have been Splashy Fen Music Festivals’ 31st edition. It would have been 4 days of music, merriment, and time away from the hustle and bustle of city life for fans looking for a fun, safe, inclusive home away from home in one of the most beautiful parts of our country. But the year 2020 was a non-event for the music industry, and the world at large, as festivals across the globe were shut down due to the global pandemic that was, and is, Covid-19.

It seems like a lifetime ago when we made the announcement to cancel our 2020 edition festival,” says Stu Berry, Festival Director. “Collectively, with our fans, we were devastated, but the choice was not ours to make. None of us had any idea just what we were up against, how long we would be away for, and what the music scene would look like when we eventually returned. For months we have waited patiently for the green light from authorities and for the infection rate to drop. We have also watched, longingly, as international festivals have taken the lead with a number of entry regulations that allow hundreds of thousands of fans to return to packed stadiums to enjoy live music and entertainment again – something that we are determined to be able to offer to both our South African fans and musicians; as we continue to champion the local entertainment industry that has been hit so hard with the shutdown of events and festivals.”

The Splashy Fen website – www.splashyfen.co.za – has been updated with all the important information that fans need to navigate the latest ticket options. In keeping with the festival’s ethos of transparency and integrity, event organisers have done everything they can to ensure no risk to ticket holders, and fans are therefore guaranteed a 100% refund on their ticket, should the festival be cancelled due to COVID lockdown regulations. At this stage, no day visitors will be allowed to the 2022 festival.

We are sure our fans will have many questions regarding the 2022 festival,” says Festival Creative Director Andrew van Rensburg. “Our website should be able to address all of these queries, including what we envisage will be the COVID regulations at Splashy Fen 2022It has been great watching the European Festival season operating with full capacity crowds and we cannot wait to get back out there and deliver a world-class experience once again. It has been a tough 2 years, in which we have all been taught to stay away from each other and disengage, and we hope to get everyone back sharing, laughing, and smiling together again. Now more than ever, we need it.

Summary of pricing options:

Otter Club Ticket            R1050**            Available 6th Oct – 20th Oct
20% Discount                 R840
Early Bird Ticket             R1300*             Available 21st Oct. Limited to 1000 tickets
General Festival Ticket    R1450*
Kids 4-12                       R450*
Kids U4                         R50*
Early Camping                R180*               Limited to 500 passes
Family Camping              R180*               Limited space: 1st come, 1st serve
Reserved River Camping  R1200*             Limited to 80 sites. 4 adults per site
Powered Campsite          R2000*             Limited to 50 sites. 4 adults per site

* Excludes bank charges (4%). All tickets are fully refundable on the ticket price (not the bank charges) should the event be cancelled due to COVID regulations. Should a ticket holder test positive for COVID-19 and be unable to attend, the normal refund policy will apply.

** R840 (excluding booking fee) for 2020 ticket holders

To secure your ticket to Splashy Fen Music Festival, please visit www.splashyfen.co.za or personally drop us an email at info@splashyfen.co.za.

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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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