Kayaking up the Keurbooms – a river ride to paradise on the south coast of Africa
If you love water sports then you will find yourself in paradise at this Keurbooms river as it flows to the south coast of Africa and runs into the Indian ocean at the town called Plettenberg Bay. I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow a little kayak recently and engage in my favorite pastime, namely paddling up the river into a hidden part of this gem of a tourist destination.
You can see the Forever Resort campsite across the river on the opposite bank, where happy campers erect tents and live in their camper vans.
Some places just have it all, and this stretch of Africa’s southern coastline is one of those places. Here you will find all you could wish for as a lover of outdoor adventure and nature exploration. The ocean is just epic, and the surfers enjoy the waves on several parts of the shoreline all around the town of Plettenberg Bay.
But my personal favorite is actually the Keurbooms river itself, where I can take more time and in a more relaxed manner, paddle about and explore the remote and isolated river gorge. The place is inaccessible, except by kayak or canoe, or of course, a motor boat. There are no roads or even foot paths or trails to this stretch of the river.
I managed to borrow this little turquoise kayak and paddle about, with serious joy, for several hours. Joy is not merely a frivolous emotion, but can also be a serious one because in order to glimpse it, I had to paddle with quite some effort, and a serious look on my face as I ploughed through the water like a flash of light glistening on its surface.
Major N2 Highway bridge under which the river flows and I paddle to access the gorge. The lagoon is on the other side of the highway, next to the ocean.
Well, perhaps Flash is not quite the right speed. It was more like Flow. I was able to go with the flow, and it took me upstream as the tide flowed in, making the paddling quite easy. That said, the kayak was a little small compared to the ideal, which I have enjoyed in the past. Still, it was manageable...until the wind started ripping down the gorge.
As a result I decided to turn back after taking these few photos. It’s not as many as I would have liked but time escaped me and in these wet conditions I didn’t want to pull out my mobile phone too often. Actually, I had it zipped up in a nice plastic waterproof bag, hanging around my neck as I paddled.
Nevertheless, the wind picked up, and was stiff, so I retraced my path and paddled back downstream toward the Keurbooms lagoon and the ocean. I really had to paddle with all my strength and might, and I’m not super fit or anything like that. So the next day I was seriously stiff in the shoulders, which lasted a few days. Now that was a great workout.
This is where I launched the kayak into the shallow river just near the lagoon on the sea side of the highway bridge.
As you can see in the photos, I paddled under the main national highway, called the N2, which hugs the south coast of Africa for thousands of kilometers. And the Keurbooms flows underneath it just east of the tourist town of Plettenberg Bay, about 5kms from the best holiday destination in the sub-continent. Just my personal opinion of course. Still, I know that you won’t be disappointed if you make your way here for a holiday.
These brief photos give you a glimpse of the water sporting fun you can have in this region. And the river continues up the gorge for several kilometers. I just scratched the surface on today’s paddle. Next time I will try when the wind is minimal, perhaps earlier in the morning, before it picks up.
The guys in their motor boats were watching me paddle frantically against the wind, but I think I put on a good show of force and picked up a good pace against the headwind, paddling back under the N2 highway bridge that brings the national road so close to the sea itself at this point on the stretch.
It's overcast as I launch the kayak, but the conditions are so mild all year round, that the water was still inviting.
It’s easy to find this place on the map, so be sure to add it to your travel itinerary when you are fortunate enough to make it to this fairly deep south region of the planet. This is one of hidden gems of the globe, and only a rare few fortunate souls get to find out about it or make it here to experience the beauty and pristine healthy natural environment all year long. You too could be one of the lucky few, so make your way to these shores and see them for yourself. You can thank me later.
(photos my own)