That last outing on the river will stick in our minds for a very long time, white water rafting. We’ve seldom had white water rafting that good. Not that we’re into the really death-defying stuff; no huge waterfalls and deep whirlpools for us thanks; definitely nothing swimming in the water that’s bigger than us. Nevertheless, what we love about white water rafting is the adrenaline rush, living on the edge, hanging on, trying to work together as a team to keep that craft pointed where it should be pointed.
Starting out from the shallows, calm as can be, we pushed our way into the current and paddled quietly towards the first bend. Half of the fun about white water rafting is the great unknown – unless you’ve been on the stretch of water before you don’t know what to expect. Even if it is your second or third time, whether the water level is higher or lower can make such a difference – rough and rocky on one occasion, truly white-water rafting, then smooth and placid the next. And just when you think it’s going to be an easy ride, you discover that it works both ways, what was once calm and gentle can turn into something roaring in a matter of days, let alone from one month to the next.
One of the most exciting experiences associated with white water rafting is to be rounding a bend and to be greeted by a loud, incredibly distinctive noise. One minute the water is gurgling at most and you can hear the bird and insect life. The next the water is churning, rolling over stones and bubbling as if on the boil. It’s a sound that warns you that your chill time is over, that you’d better pull your weight and do what you’re supposed to avoid flipping over. Suddenly people are shouting instructions, some screaming half in fear, mostly with glee. Things happen quickly and before you know it the potential crisis has passed. Dripping wet, you lean back with satisfaction and wait for the next bit of white-water rafting action.
Our family just loves getting around the country in this way, white water rafting anywhere we can find an exciting stretch of river that takes in some great scenery while giving us a chance to have fun together. Last year it was on the Blyde River with Mohlatsi Adventures. The year before we tripped out to Nelspruit to get on the Houtbosloop River with the guys from Riverwild. Next year we plan to try out the rapids that Sabie River Adventures are famous for. And after that, well, it’ll probably be time to try out white water rafting on the Doring River in the Cederberg with Wildthing Adventures.
This year it was the Breede River we got onto, launching just south of Swellendam. The sun was shining, the wind wasn’t blowing too hard, and nobody got hurt despite bashing into a few submerged rocks – all part and parcel of white-water rafting. We’d do it again tomorrow.