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October 25, 2010

Getting gritty in Grabouw: My little piece of adventure

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A few years ago I was a very adventurous person, but after too many broken bones and visits to the casualty unit I decided to scale down. I am one of those people with ECS (excessive clumsiness syndrome) so for me the outdoors can be fatal.

Nonetheless, when my colleagues and I were offered the opportunity to go kayaking, hiking and mountain biking, all in one trip, the adventurer in me took over and I couldn’t resist. So there I was in the middle of the Grabouw countryside, surrounded by majestic mountains and panoramic views. What an awesome experience!

Our group was met by Sean from HBK Ecotours, who gave us the rundown on activities planned for the day (and a few safety tips for people like me). First up was the kayaking. We rowed in teams of two on a dam for approximately 2.5km, from the Elgin Country Club to the Grabouw Forest. This was hard work but lots of fun, and for my first time I don’t think I did too badly. My teammate might disagree, however, as we were both soaking wet by the time we got to the other side, even though we didn’t fall in.

Once we got to the other side we hiked through the forest toward a waterfall. Our approach was definitely the highlight: To get a better view and pictures, Sean suggested that we cross the river and approach the waterfall from the other side. By that time we were all on an adventure rush, so we didn’t mind that we had to cross the river fully clothed. Once we got into the water, however, we found the current was so strong that we had to hold on to one another just so we didn’t get washed away. When we arrived safely on the other side, the adrenalin was pumping, but Sean was right – the view of the waterfall was amazing!

We took a little break to admire the view and take some pictures, then hiked back toward the dam before rowing to the country club.

For the next part of the tour we cycled to the Oude Molen Brandy Distillery for a one-hour cellar tour. We learnt about the brand making process as well as some of the history of René Santhagens, considered the father of South African brandy.

Overall it was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone – whether you’re a bunch of friends looking to have fun or doing it as a great team-building experience. I would definitely do this tour again!

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