Wow what an amazing boxing day 2019 doing the Storms River Kayak and Lilo adventure! After a dramatically cloudy Christmas night we woke up in Storms River to the deepest blue sky without a cloud in sight and a symmetrically blue ocean gently crashing into the jagged, twisted rocks. Down to Kayak and Lilo we went looking forward to our 2-hour adventure venturing into Storms River. We met out guides Yolanda and Stan and got ready for our tour with water shoes, dry bags, life jackets and helmets.
And then it began – more wow and we hadn’t even hit the water yet. The 15 minute walk through the lush Indigenous forest around the small bay at the Storms River mouth was incredible in itself. Perfect view after perfect view – out to the ocean rolling into the rocks, along the insanely dramatic coastline with sheer mountain sides plunging down into the sea, and then into the Storms River itself, bluest of water, black-grey sheer rock faces where the forces of something huge has shifted the stubborn rocks onto their sides and the river has failed to make an impact on the rocks beyond the deepest slash that is the river’s gorge.
Down a steep slope we go to be confronted by more of the bluest of water and two slender suspension bridges, one crossing the Storms River itself – just picture perfect. Across the other bridge we go and then down another flight of steps to the bright red of our kayaks. After a briefing on the basics of kayaking from Stan, and a glimpse of two stingrays quietly gliding by, we all descended, some more gracefully than others, into our two person kayaks.
And wow wow wow – this was my favourite moment, pushing out on the calm river, being at river level, in that blue water, transfixed by the towering cliffs, covered with pockets of verdant vegetation, water dripping of rocks shelves in places, wonderful white fronted cormorants perched on their nests, flying up and down the river, landing at their favourite fishing spots.
Out bobbed the other kayaks and we quickly got the hang of kayaking – including the kids who ranged from 11 to 15 years of age! Straight out to the ocean we went, over some surprisingly big swells, much easier that I thought sea kayaking would be. We then gently turned around for even more breath taking views before cueing the Hawaii Five-O theme song and paddling like mad to try and ride the waves back into the river mouth.
Time then to gently paddle up the river, not too hard and just magical gliding between the sheer walls, looking up to the narrow strip of sky, enjoying the changing shapes, textures and views – learning about the lilies, checking out the big cave. We then got to a barrage of rocks and got out of the kayaks, clambered carefully over the sometimes slippery rock to the other side to start the lilo part of the adventure. Again, much easies that I expected, excellent lilos, easy to lie on or sit on and paddle against the flow of the river. Another experience feeling the water on your hands and legs, looking up, down – such crystal clear water – and around. Up to another blockages of rocks and we turned around and let the water gently carry us back.
Before getting back into the kayaks for our return to the beginning the adrenaline addicts amongst us got a big hit by jumping off a range of rocks – each higher than the last, into a nice deep pool. We had to drag them away as the next group arrived and we slowly made our way home.
Trip highlights from the Kayak and Lilo adventurers:
Chris: Riding the waves back into the gorge.
Ness: Lying on my back on the lilo, looking up at the waterfall capturing the sunlight in each and every drop. The most relaxing time of my long year!!
Garry: Lying on my back on the lilo soaking up the sun while watching the children leaping off the rocks into the water. I really enjoyed seeing the kids on kayaks, previously they’ve always been split up and with an adult, today they were working together with each other.
Alize: Paddling on the lilo, swallowing up the views, the breathtaking views and I also liked the sense of accomplishment that I actually managed to get somewhere on a kayak.
Rhian: Consistently falling off the Lilo and then struggling to the point where I gave the lilo to Yolanda and swam back. I also really loved the water battle and Alize and I survived! I also loved seeing the stingrays!
Cadan: I loved kayaking out to the waves and going up and down on the waves while on the way back trying to catch a wave!
Nick: Jumping off the rocks. When I was I the air and sailing down it was fun, the adrenaline kicked in when I was in the air.
Kai: I loved walking up the rocks. Standing on the cliffs with the water below, jumping off and hitting the water.
The Storms River Kayak and Lilo adventure is a great activity to do whilst enjoying the Garden Route on one of our South Africa tours: