Always on the hunt for a new adventure, this time we found ourselves in the quaint little town of Parys on a white river rafting expedition. Just an hour and a half’s drive from Johannesburg, Parys in the Free State makes for the perfect day trip.
I’m a firm believer that exercise can be fun and there are so many ways to be active and keep fit while enjoying the great outdoors. This type of approach allows for the perfect opportunity to change things up so you never really get bored. In addition to that, keeping active with my kids is vitally important to me. I refuse to raise couch-potatoes so adventuring provides the perfect solution without them even realising it.
I have been white river rafting before, but this was a first for the kids. We arrived at Real Adventures and did the necessary paperwork. Then headed down to a hangar where we suited up with a life-jacket and helmet. We eagerly hopped onto the bus and were transported to the pitching point. The bumpy ride on the bus, with the driver constantly attempting to avoid potholes, felt like an adventure on it owns.
An extremely important, detailed and absolutely hilarious safety briefing (which had us in stitches) was conducted. After that briefing I was convinced that the OS Lines (Oh Shit Lines) were going to become my new best friend. Oh and let me just mention that carrying those rafts down to the water’s edge was no mean feat, especially for the little ones. As a result, the complaining started well before we hit the water.
It was an absolute scorcher of a day so one final time of packing on the sunblock and we were on our way. Looking back, I think the use of a peak cap under that helmet would have been a great idea. We hit the water and looked rather professional heading out that morning, but only a minute into the rafting did the real fun begin. Everyone basically just paddled in circles lacking serious coordination and direction. We however quickly learnt that communication was the key. My hubby was clever and left me with my little one, while my teen went along with him. My 9-year-old who’s like my siamese twin, who just wants to sit next to me and hug me all the time, wasn’t very keen to sit up front. On a good day he has verbal diarrhoea and I honestly think he said “MOM” at least 50 times in the first 30 minutes. At this point I already needed a glass or two of wine to take the edge of. Lemme keep it real and say that I was very tempted to chuck him overboard. I mean he did have a lifejacket on, so he would have been okay.
Due to the shortage of rain currently being experienced in South Africa, the water level was rather low which meant that the rocks were going to be challenging. Our guides warned us about this on numerous occasions. Did we heed their warning? No not really! This resulted in us spending a lot of time stuck on top of huge rocks and we were expected to do the “Vaal River Cha-Cha” (rocking back and forth). It also meant changing our position rapidly by moving to the front or back of the raft to get back into the water. So I was basically tossing my little one around to get things done. I gotta admit, it was a great workout for both my arms and my hips. Woooohooo for mom’s guns I tell you.
Rafting in Parys is a grade 3 and the rapids were rather intense, so much so that one of my friends was flipped out of her raft and into the Vaal River. Aside from a bruised knee, she was okay and everything turned out well. That somersault was so impressive that it was later named the Lenise Vaal River upside-down. Yes the risk factor is there, but that applies to anything in life really. I refuse to let the fear of what might happen, hold me back from living my best life. Most importantly, I want to impart with my kids, a sense of adventure and a passion for life. I want them to be fearless and ever ready to explore the beauty that the world has to offer.
One last thing, if you want to test a relationship then I strongly suggest you go river rafting together. River rafting is all about communication and compromise, and a whole lot of upper body strength. We had an amazing 3.5 hours on the Vaal River even with the sun baking down on us. I still have the sock tans as a remembrance. This was absolute fun for the whole family, especially my little one who basically gave up paddling to lay back and enjoy the view, while we did all the work. River rafting is an excellent form of exercise and a great upper body workout. It was in fact so much fun that we have already booked our tickets to head back for round two in a few months.
Until our next adventure, happy paddling