Our first icy encounter with the Salt River followed an abseiling trip into the gorge at The Crags near Plettenberg Bay, and then our guide pointed to a rock and told the group to climb to the top. I saw it coming. He probably expected us to climb to the top and plunge into the river below…
I love crazy adventures, but canyoning – or kloofing as it is also known – has never even been on my bucket list. I had always associated it with people getting themselves into potentially dangerous situations. But when I was invited to join a group of journalists in the Garden Route to join the adventure, I wanted to be the sporty person the invite called for and find out for myself.
I have never worn a wetsuit, so the discomfort and difficulty of pulling this second skin onto my body left me in doubt as to whether a wetsuit was really necessary in October. Despite this, many of us found ourselves shivering during our adventure. Parts of the gorge are never exposed to direct sunlight and there was some good rain in the days prior to our expedition.
Africanyon offers excursions that last two or four hours. If you opt for the longer one, there will be no shortage of fun – as we discovered. We started our adventure by abseiling down a rock face to the river below, taking in the amazing beauty of these unexplored reaches of the Salt River gorge. It was like entering another dimension – humid and cool with tall trees, green ferns, soft mosses and splashing waterfalls, like something out of a fairy tale.
We explored the gorge by navigating the shallows, swimming through clear pools, jumping from cliffs, sliding down natural water slides and even zip-lining from rocky outcrops into the water below. Nobody was ever forced to jump from cliffs as this is optional, but peer pressure remains a concept during adulthood too. The level of fun and craziness is up to each individual. While the guides summersaulted into the water below without thinking twice, I preferred concentrating much longer and harder on where I was told to jump. Safety is a top priority and the guides go out of their way to ensure responsible fun.
A four-hour excursion costs R800 while two hours is R600. Visit www.africanyon.co.za for details. We stayed at the Turbine Hotel and Spa on Knysna’s Thesen Island.
Written by: René de Klerk
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