Paddling for Adventure
With its mosaic of lakes and waterways, pristine coastal forest and 18 km golden beach, the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park is paradise for nature enthusiasts. By Stephen Cunliffe.
After hiking, we decided to rest our weary legs and hire a canoe from conveniently located Eden Adventures on the outskirts of Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp South. We stashed our valuables in waterproof buckets in the shiny yellow canoe and then effortlessly launched onto the Touw River.
Initially, we set off downstream across Wilderness Lagoon to the beach at Touw River Mouth. It was a pleasant paddle with an abundance of waterbirds and waders on show, as well as a relaxed large grey mongoose. But it couldn’t compare with the trip upstream into a steep-sided valley of pristine indigenous forest. When rocks blocked our upstream progress, and having enjoyed the Touw River Waterfall hike so much the previous day, we temporarily abandoned the canoe and transferred to the latter half of the Giant Kingfisher Trail for a paddle-waterfall walk combo that is near impossible to beat.
For those with strong arms and a full day at their disposal, I would unreservedly recommend the rewarding paddle along the narrow, reeded channels of the snaking Serpentine to a picnic site at Island Lake. This is the longest canoe excursion available, offering an opportunity to escape the crowds, appreciate the area’s prolific birdlife and immerse yourself in nature.
A host of other pulse-racing pursuits offered by Eden Adventures might also tempt more adventurous souls. Perhaps a unique, spray-drenched abseil alongside the thundering Swart River Waterfall into a bobbing boat waiting in the Kaaimans Gorge below, or kloofing during the warmer summer months? The half-day Cappuccino Canyon is ideal for first-timers, while the full-day Eden Alley kloof offers the initiated adrenaline-pumping jumps and longer swims.
This article was first published in the spring issue of Wild 2012.