A friend and I took a road trip along the Garden Route in a fun-looking red Renault Duster 1.5dCi and after spending the first night in a villa in Oubaai Golf Estate, we were ready to explore some of the natural beauty nearby.
We decided on an Eden Adventures kayak trip on the Touws River, followed by a forest walk to the Touws Waterfall. It was a 30 minute drive from our lodgings to the launch spot in Wilderness, next to the Fairy Knowe Hotel.
We set off in the French compact SUV. As we headed along the N2 towards Wilderness, the sublime road handling was impressive, as is its frugal diesel engine. We parked on the grass at the meeting point and gathered our hats and sunblock, before paying for kayak hire and the SANParks entrance fee.
Chris Leggat, owner of Eden Adventures, met us at the office and led us to the river bank. He explained the river course and how we’d need to keep left to get to our destination, before he handed us a large splash-proof bucket to keep our belongings dry.
We climbed into the two-man canoe, Lauren in the front and me at the back and set off into the mist along the reed-lined river. A rush warbler darted from one reed perch to another. Soon we passed under a bridge next to the Ebb and Flow campsite. The sound of the paddles slapping the water was soothing as we skimmed across the coffee-coloured river, rich with tannins.
The mist had begun to dissipate at the beginning of our journey. It continued to fade like a curtain being drawn back, revealing increasingly dense indigenous forest. Two Kysna loeries called back and forth before one spread its wings, revealing a flash of colour as it flew to a nearby tree.
After about 40 minutes we came to the beach that Chris had described on our right and stowed the canoes. Taking our daypacks, we followed the marked path under an arch of foliage and into the forest.
The majority of the two-and-a-half kilometre path to the waterfall is on boardwalks, which run near to the river, taking you past moss-covered trees, wild mushrooms and rich forest soil, covered with leaves. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of the river until, at the end of the boardwalk, a few steps led us onto large rocks where we could sit and watch the water tumble into the pool below. The agitation created a foamy froth that hugged the rocks on the stiller side of the pool, while the rest of the water rushed by as if it was being chased.
After about half-an-hour at the waterfall we retracted our steps, launched our canoe into the water once more and began to paddle back. At one point my arms started to protest and so we floated for a couple of minutes before we resumed our rhythmic paddling.
My eyes trailed over the creepers that made up the forest canopy and dripped down the trees like chocolate sauce over ice cream. I felt so relaxed that I wanted to imprint the scene in my memory, so that it could resurface when I was no longer on the river and hopefully bring with it the peace I felt at this moment.