Tsitsikamma Lilo & Kayak Untouched Adventure
Some adventures are meant for the bucket list and the Tsitsikamma Lilo & Kayak Garden Route Adventure is without a doubt a bucket lister. I planned the Garden Route Adventure to the T. All through this adventure I could contain my excitement. It was going to be the first time I was seeing my little brother in over a year.
What a family reunion it proved to be. I don’t remember when last I laughed so much. The Tsitsikamma Lilo & Kayak was by far the most demanding of all our garden route adventures. Untouched Adventures is in the heart of the Tsitsikamma Storms River Mouth National Park. South Africa’s southern coast. It encompasses a marine reserve, deep gorges and local vegetation like the Big Tree. The Mouth Trail crosses a suspension bridge over Storms River. It’s a truly beautiful sight. I believe I’ve done Tsitsikamma and all its beauty justice with my description, let me share our adventure. Please hold onto your cup of something delicious real tight. Please do not hold me accountable for any of your spillages from this moment forth.
Lilo & Kayak Garden Route Adventure
In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel I should tell you something that will either; inspire you to do the things that scare you in an attempt to overcome your fears or have you rule me out as a crazy person.
I cannot swim.
Well, I can swim laps (craw/ freestyle) in a pool and I wouldn’t drown if you threw me in! The real problem is, I have this crippling fear of drowning. My fear is extremely crippling I have mild panic attacks when I put my head under a running shower for a long period of time. So naturally, when I was planning our adventures, I had to choose the one that requires us to be in a body of deep waters for way too long.
In case you are wondering why I shared the private shower statement, it’s because I need to draw a picture for you. I need you to imagine what would happen if I found myself underwater with strong waves of sea water going over my head! Are you with me? Okay, keep that image close. We’ll come back to it.
We left Port Elizabeth relatively early, I’d never been to Tsitsikamma National park and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. We arrived early, had lunch and managed to charge our phones. It’s the digital age, it was a must that we Snap and Instagram this. Apparently, if you don’t snap it, it never happened, honestly, what the world coming to.
Lilo & Kayak
We got suited and booted (untouched adventures offers wetsuits and aqua booties on hire) and embarked on our journey. Sea conditions weren’t having it, which meant we couldn’t paddle through the ocean passing underneath the suspension bridge to the storms river gorge.
Freight not, the Untouched Adventures team is always prepared for this. We took a short hike through the captivating Tsitsikamma forest, over the famous suspension bridge and begun our kayaking trip from inside the calm river mouth.
Paddling is exhausting, lol. The majestic storms river cliffs hung over us, the quiet river playing along to the music of the birds chirping. I was at home in the water, it was quiet and calming. Something about all that beauty brings life into perspective. I was grateful for such an opportunity, for family, for our guide, lol.
Besides the pain of paddling, everything was going fine so far. The joy and gratitude were soon to be short-lived. Most of us know what a kayak is. So this has made sense so far, let me take this time to explain the craziness that is a LILO.
A lilo is a small inflatable boat, the Untouched Adventure lilos are unique and specially designed for this trip to access the narrow parts of the gorge. remember the small details I shared earlier, let me now explain it to you.
The Girl That Can’t swim on a LILO
The girl who can only swim for survival is now on a lilo, some floating bed in the water!!! Everything was fine, but our guide had to dare some to stand on their lilo. Naturally, I had to do it! It was downhill from there, or should I say downriver, lol.
I lost my balance, as was expected and ended up in water with my head under water. Crippling fear set in and as far as I was concerned I was going to die. Finally managed to reach for my lilo in silence, managed to hold onto it but now I couldn’t even move.
I remember someone, maybe my mum, Wadel or the guide telling me I could even put my feet down and would be okay. I remember them telling me they had me and I just needed to open my eyes so I can get on my lilo. Hahaha, I mean what the fuck was I even doing trying to stand on a lilo like I was pro swimmer. Why, why, why damn it!
My mum finally grabbed onto my foot and Wadel grabbed my arm and they swore nothing would happen. That they weren’t going to let me go no matter what. Great teamwork on their part. Impressive to say the least. Did I mention the whole time I was “dying” people were busy trying to stand on their lilos and screaming from joy?
I kept my eyes closed but relaxed my body enough for Wadel to get me onto the lilo. After a couple of breaths some tears, utter regret for ever thinking this was a good idea I finally opened my eyes and joined in the fun.
Did I mention that I was wearing a life jacket all this time?