Kayaking through the eye of a storm

 
 
 

Stanford Skosana lowers his paddle, slicing through pitch black water. Each splash brings cool relief. On either side of the meandering river, gargantuan walls of rock carpeted in vegetation rise up, enclosing the lone kayaker. Dusty rays of sunlight pierce the shadows. Adrenaline pulses through Skosana’s veins as he rounds a bend, anticipating the rush ahead. The crack in the landscape opens up to blinding waves of beauty. This is the Storms River mouth, where restless waters surge into the roar of the ocean.

Pride wells up inside Skosana every time he comes to the river. As a tour manager, he relishes the opportunity to show it off. “I just want others to see it for themselves,” he says. “Visitors come here to shake off their stress and they leave with renewed energy.” Having lived in the lush surrounds of the Tsitsikamma valley his entire life, Skosana’s appreciation of it hasn’t diminished. While most people choose to take in the beauty of the river from suspension bridges above, Skosana prefers a more intimate view. “I use a kayak to see the beauty from a different angle,” he says.

The joy of kayaking along the river mouth is just the beginning. Along the Garden Route, where the Eastern and Western Capes meet, the Tsitsikamma region is accessible to South Africans to explore. Thrill-seekers can plunge nearly 200 metres from the nearby Bloukrans Bridge, or hike to the heart of the forest to visit giant 800-year-old yellowwood trees. In places like these, wild and untamed, Skosana believes our country’s true wealth lies. “It's always filled with the promise of adventure,” he says.  It’s up to us to make the journey of discovery. “To explore this beauty, it's a blessing,” Skosana says.