Pongola Kayak Trip – Friday 26th
After bidding a final farewell to Amangwane we visited the school to handover the finished classroom. We assembled in the hall and were presented with the entire school crammed into the room. What happened next will stay in our minds forever. The children sang and danced filling the small hall with an energy which showed the spirit of the community. The Grade R’s presented their songs and dances in both languages, poems and rhymes in English were read by the Grade 3’s.
Then, to a cascade of claps and shouts, in came two lines of dancers in a bright orange get-ups performing traditional songs and dances. Again the noise and energy from the chants and stamps reverberated around the room and left us all in awe.
After more songs and dances from the students we met the Grade R’s to whom the revamped room was being left and departed to a chorus of “sala gachle’s”
Upon arriving at the Pongola we drove to the riverbank where 8 two-man canoes were waiting. We paired up and took to the water where we immediately were faced with the challenge of paddling upstream towards the towering dam. Walking with canoe in toe definitely proved most effective.
The going was much easier (or at least with fewer capsizes) until we came upon the death-defying, 3ft drop which formed the weir we needed to pass. Shrill, high pitched screams rang out in the gorge as Jared went over the edge (the rest of us took it in our stride) but once we had passed that mountainous challenge the following rapids and currents caused little hesitation.
We arrived in our own little camp, situated in roughly the centre of nowhere, and promptly set about bathing and mud fighting, all the while on the lookout for hungry crocs.
As the darkness closed in we cast rods out into the river and now 40 minutes later we are hoping for more than seaweed for dinner and sat around the campfire while the sounds of millions of insects fill the air.
STOP PRESS-1816: Finished writing the blog and went to practice casting with the spinner. Was told that the spinner wouldn’t work at night but reeled in to find a sharp-toothed catfish on the line.
Too small to eat but still an achievement.