We are certain that we are the first people to row the river. Yes, lots have been on it in other craft, including canoes and kayaks, but not rowing shells. This was a rare opportunity in our busy, “been there, done that” world. So ours was a first ever, an easy exploratory adventure on a beautiful river, complete with wild animals.
We had a destination: Sibuya Game Reservehttp://www.sibuya.co.za/ . Among its unique features, the Reserve claims that it has more navigable river than any other game reserve in South Africa, and virtually all guests arrive by water, using the company safari boats. Starting at the holiday village of Kenton-on-Sea (actually the Indian Ocean), we rowed upriver and sort of inland. This is an exceptionally sinuous river, so as the crow flies, we were likely never that far from the ocean. The twists and turns created a sense of disorientation, enhancing our sense of discovery.
Fortunately for us, others had gone before, with the happy result that after a row of 11 km (with stops to observe a water buck and extract a flying fish from the quad) we arrived at the delightful Forest Camp, where lunch awaited us in a charming lapa – an open dining area with a thatched roof supported by thick beams. Nigel the nyala dropped by, an absolutely beautiful buck with stripes, spots and legs that look like they are sheathed in stockings. Champagne was served, since one of the rowers conveniently had a birthday for us to celebrate.
Several hours later, and with a falling tide, we skimmed back the 11 km, still under clear, warm blue African skies. One of the participants declared it her best ever day of rowing. That is what rowing travel will do for you.