KAYAK (& LILO) UP THE STORMS RIVER

Getaway (South Africa) - - Travel - – ME­LANIE VAN ZYL

This two-to three-hour ad­ven­ture starts with a pad­dle in a two-man kayak on the In­dian Ocean, pass­ing un­der the iconic Storms River sus­pen­sion bridge – a pop­u­lar pic­turesque stop on the Gar­den Route (an hour from Knysna or two from Port El­iz­a­beth) – and head­ing into the river mouth. Pretty soon our ex­pe­di­tion is in the for­mi­da­ble Storms River gorge, which is over 100 me­tres high in some places. The river guides share the his­tory of the wood­cut­ters who used to in­habit the area and you’ll see the caves they of­ten slept in – now home to a big Egyp­tian fruit bat colony. Chances are also good you’ll spot dark shad­ows in the wa­ter as you pad­dle. The Storms River is a prime

‘nurs­ery’ for ragged-tooth sharks and rays that shel­ter from sea preda­tors un­til they’re ma­ture. Ot­ters and seals could also pop up at any mo­ment. Once in safer wa­ter be­hind a boundary of big river rocks, the kayaks are stashed and the jour­ney con­tin­ues on heavy-duty li­los. It’s a lazy pad­dle up­river and the guides know the best rocks for jump­ing off. In sum­mer you don’t need a wet­suit and the sea is more likely to be calmer – when I vis­ited in Oc­to­ber, big waves meant we had to kayak from the river rather than the ocean and its fa­mous marine-pro­tected reefs full of fish. Lo­cals reckon that Fe­bru­ary is the best time to visit.

Keep an eye on the wa­ter for shark-shaped shad­ows. OP­PO­SITE, FROM TOP The jour­ney passes be­low the con­crete arches of the Paul Sauer sus­pen­sion bridge, and right un­der the river­mouth foot­bridge, down into the gorge; later on, li­los al­low ac­cess to en­tic­ing nooks and rock hop­ping.

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