2 October 2020
Tranquillity on the Estuary
Hello everyone! And welcome back to another blog.
It has been incredibly dry in the Eastern Cape lately and we have been waiting in anticipation for our rains to come. Although our animals on the reserve still have ample amounts of water to drink, we long for the smell of the rain and the fresh green shoots to spring up over the open plains.
Secretly, we rangers cannot wait to go sloshing through the muddy roads with our guests both giggling and squealing in delight or biting their lips in anticipation, hoping their guide is a good driver, as the Land Rover slides from side to side around the corners and the wheels spinning as the vehicle edges up some of our steep hills.
At last our rain has finally started. Over this weekend we should be getting a little over fifty millimetres of rain on the reserve.
With the increasing water levels, it makes for one of my favourite activities on the reserve possible.
Canoeing on the Bulura River out to the Glen Eden Tidal Estuary.
The Bulura River is one of the main rivers which meanders through the reserve. Much of the river is fresh water – supplying a valuable water source to the reserve – however, closer to the Tidal Estuary, the water is salty sea water which makes for beautiful waters to canoe on.
Protected by a natural embankment, the waters are calm and sheltered from the waves which crash against the sand.
Driving down to the starting point of the canoe site, on the river’s edge, provides many an opportunity for game viewing with a good chance of seeing Giraffe, Waterbuck, Impala, Blesbok, Buffalo & Zebra to mention only a few species that you could see.
That’s not to mention the abundance of bird species that you could see as well. With over 280 species of birds recorded on the game reserve, Inkwenkwezi really is a birders’ paradise. I often find myself sitting at the water’s edge trying to identify as many water birds as I can so that when I take my guests canoeing I am familiar with water birds and not only the birds that we see throughout the rest of the game reserve.
I have managed to get some beautiful photos of a Malachite Kingfisher – which you almost always see sitting on an overhanging branch at the river or on a reed nearby – busy hunting for fish. Let me tell you, the little guy was much faster than I am and I only managed to get one photo of him flying off the reed he was sitting on and I missed him catching a fish and eating it. (One day I will get the timing right!)
It’s definitely another level of excitement pulling the canoes into the river with my guests. Listening to the low-key arguments of who is going to share with who, and who is going to take their own canoe – as our canoes can comfortably seat two people per canoe.
Luckily, canoeing is very easy, and it takes A LOT of effort to actually tip a canoe, they are very sturdy. I say canoeing, but the correct term would be ‘Kayaking’. Canoes are technically a deep shaped long boat whereas kayaks are flatter.
Once everyone has settled into the ‘Kayaks’ we start paddling down the river.
I always make myself incredibly nervous when I go Kayaking because I take my camera with me to take photos of my guests and to photograph any birds that I may see along the way. So far I have been lucky that there have been no accidents – cameras and water – I shudder to think what could happen, but I am extremely careful and just can’t leave my camera behind!
You don’t need to be super fit in order to go Kayaking as it can be a very relaxing outing, it depends entirely on the guests. I always paddle at the pace that my guests set, so if they want to relax and float slowly along the river then it is exceptionally relaxing but some guests want to paddle their heart out and make it all the way to Glen Eden beach which does require some level of fitness.
Since we don’t have any crocodiles or hippos on the reserve and the ocean is closed off by a natural embankment, kayaking is virtually stress free. One of my favourite things about the natural sand embankment is that it blocks off the tides and waves from the ocean leaving the river calm and tranquil. (Unless it is an exceptionally windy day – the wind will then make its own waves on the river and give you an intense workout if you find yourself paddling against it.)
However, on a beautiful sunny day making the time to go out kayaking is a must. Especially if you appreciate birding, listening to the Fish Eagles sing overhead, watching the various Kingfisher species catching fish or a few Reed Cormorants that are keeping an eye on you from a nearby bank.
Luckily, anyone can enjoy this activity with us either through booking accommodation with us or just as a day activity – dependent on the river water level of course.
Thank you all for reading another one of my blogs.