Wilderness on Sea & Canoeing

Wilderness sits like a sparkling gem along the Garden Route in pristine South Africa, a hamlet offering some of the finest food anywhere, small village charm and an abundance of wildlife and open areas to explore. It is small wonder then, that this place remains one of the best places to visit when on holiday in South Africa.

The heart of an adventurer will find itself quite warmed by places like Wilderness on Sea which allows the freedom to cook your own food, plan out your own stay in a way that feels like a home away from home. You get the option to socialize and get the B&B experience or go it totally independent and call your own shots while here, and can experience the allure of a real South African braai while watching the sun go down.

Wilderness is just one of many places that are perfect for canoeing, offering an unspoiled paradise and the serenity of a peaceful and quiet river to traverse while enjoying the very zen-like stay at Wilderness on Sea and the two pair perfectly. Canoeing has been around for a very long time, even before travel by wheels or rail became the primary mode of transport, and was the way in which many traded goods and services, the lifeblood of the modern world today.

Nearly all historical accounts of aboriginal peoples contain records that show canoeing and kayaking as part of their mainstay of life.  They used it for transportation and for trade mainly, though now it tends to be largely recreational. The Pacific islands were even reached by canoe even before history was recorded on paper, and Greenlanders visited the Shetlands way back in the 1600s. North America was expanded through trade using the canoe from Native Americans and every single original native population living near water has used the canoe, and were responsible for developing the “J” stroke.

These early voyagers traveled thousands of miles across Canada in 24 foot birch bark canoes to trade with Europe; everything from goods to furs were traded, and the trip consisted of a breakfast and supper in the canoe and five minutes allotted every hour for a pipe of tobacco.  Lunch was skipped entirely to make it a more timely trip.  These canoes have been used in the ocean, rivers, lakes and anywhere else blocked to land travel by a large body of water. These early explorers used their heads and skills to create a way across.

Some canoes were made of reeds, and ancient cultures were shown to use them to cross entire oceans as proven by Thor Hyerdal’s expedition. Reed canoes were not the only ancient medium though, the Inuit Indians created a kayak, which was primarily for hunting purposes and they created it using driftwood and animal skins.  It was only big enough for one hunter carrying a spear and a bow.  Supplies were lodged just behind the hunter, where there was little space. They worked so well that larger crafts were developed for more than one person which acted as a ferry to move people as well as more goods for trade.

These early wood and skin kayaks and canoes are the predecessors to modern canoes and take their designs directly from those. The first recreational canoe use was recorded in 1830 when Mr. Canham crossed from Cherbourg to Alderney using a canvas on wooden frame kayak that was 10 feet by 2 feet.  He even carried flares and some long bags filled with bladders to help with buoyancy and those are still used today. He kept up the sport and created a series of these canoes built in London for paddling an sailing and went on many massive trips, writing books about it which brought popularity to canoeing.

The first time they were used in sport was in 1867 when the first regatta happened, and they were first included in the Olympics in 1936. They got their first international win in 1953 in Duisburg in the K4. An even more extreme version of canoeing, the slalom on rapids started in 1934 in Vienna, and was quickly followed by a British slalom near Llangollen in 1939. Fiberglass became the medium of choice in the fifties, and the building technique became more fine-tuned. Though slalom racers once numbered about 15,000 racing, there are now around 1000 who still practice the sport.

People have even developed Canoe Polo, a sport which first appeared on an 1880 painting on the Firth of Clyde, and it is commonly played in a swimming pool or large outdoor area.  Canoe polo is no tame sport however, and without a good referee it can quickly become heated, boats broken and arguments reign. A person can even surf in a kayak!  The Welsh have been doing it for years, and there’s plenty of opportunity to do so while in South Africa, as the best surfing beaches are very close by.

Eden Adventures in Wilderness offers you all this history, fun and excitement in this lovely locale by taking you for an hour of canoeing along the Touw River.  You’ll get to see the incredible bird life while paddling along, like the beautiful Knysna Loerie. On the return trip back, they’ll stop for a walk in then forest, then for light refreshments back at base.  Bonus!  It comes with a cycling adventure also just after refreshments where you will be driven to the “Map of Africa” viewpoint for a scenic cycle trip, 7km of which is all downhill.  There’s just nothing like it and no better pairing than Wilderness on Sea and a canoeing/cycling adventure!

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