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

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Perfect for the whole family.


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