We left a blustery, cold day in Port Elizabeth, somewhat doubtful about how our Sundays River Safari was going to go in gale-force winds. However, on arriving at the picturesque meeting spot of CrissCross Adventures, Chrislin Bed & Breakfast, the weather was perfect and the skies clear, perfectly showcasing the beauty of the Eastern Cape.
The owner of CrissCross Adventures, Chris Pickels, and the river safari guide, Adi, were there to welcome us warmly. Once everyone had arrived, we set off to the Sunday’s River (which is part of the Addo region) with the canoes trailing behind our open game viewing vehicle – setting the scene and getting us very excited about the morning.
It took only a few minutes to reach the river, set up the canoes, don our less-than-trendy life jackets and set out on our adventure.
Adi ensured that the group was relaxed and ready to have fun, although we did not know one another. Having studied zoology and grown up surrounded by the African bush, his passion for, and interest in, South African birdlife shone through.
Soon, we were sipping on beverages, splashing one another with warm river water and racing down the Sunday’s, only to find ourselves decidedly stuck in the reedy grasses (especially those of us who left the paddling to our husbands).
What made this river safari really special was the sheer abundance of bird species, which varies from seven different kinds of exquisite kingfishers to elegant herons that stand regally at over 1.5 metres tall.
In addition, Adi’s keen eyesight meant that we spotted well-camouflaged monitors and monkeys along the river’s banks. The birds swoop down, just metres ahead of the canoe, or rest on the reeds right next to you, if you sit quietly and allow them.
After about two hours, we perched the canoes on the shore, enjoyed some snacks (biltong, chips, chocolates and beers – a breakfast of champions) and then went for a short hike. This allowed us to get a very different perspective of the river as well as of the fauna and flora of Addo. We soon hopped back into our canoes and headed further on down the river.
Once we arrived at the pick-up point, we had a few minutes to spare and enjoyed a quick dip in the river before heading back to Chrislin. The entire safari took about three hours and we covered 5.5 kilometres of the river. It was easy paddling and there were two small rapids, which were really just a little faster and more exciting than the rest of the very laid-back experience.
There are amazing photo opportunities, and cameras, phones etc… are kept safe and dry in a sealed bucket on each canoe. Because you enjoy the breeze and the coolness of the waters, it’s easy to forget that you are under the sun. So, wear light cotton clothing that covers your arms and neck. Also, a high-factor sunscreen is essential, as is a good pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
CrissCross Adventures is focused on personal attention and tailored tours. So, Adi and Chris work hard to ensure that every part of the river safari experience is going to be something that each person on the tour can enjoy. This makes for a very special, memorable encounter that is ideal for a day out, family outing, or corporate team-building event.
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