Cape Town - Stand-up paddling (SUP) is quickly becoming one of South Africa’s top leisure activities.
One, because of how easy it is to do, and two, the enjoyment factor is right up there with other sports like surfing, waterskiing or hiking. All you need is balance and away you go!
Travelling with your SUP is essential if you own one, as it allows you to rediscover your favourite holiday town from the water. Not to mention the fabulous workout you get while checking out the birdlife or the scenery.
Carey Mol, MD of Commander HQ, and her family are new to the sport of SUPíng and have recently started exploring some of Cape Town’s beginner spots.
As a family it is best to opt for an inflatable type, which is easy to transport especially to faraway destinations, suggests Mol. Travelling on an aeroplane with a surfboard is one thing but an SUP? They can be quite heavy unless you own an inflatable Mistrel, which retails from about R13 400. Beginners who are interested can also contact www.supsa.org.za to find out more about SUP clubs or SUP schools in your area.
Here are five of SA's top SUP holiday spots:
This is a must-do for visitors and locals alike. After spending three days shopping and eating out, try something energetic. head out to Emmerentia Dam, at the Stoke City Adventure Park where you can also rent your SUP. They recently launched their very own SUP course which is 1.2km long around the dam. It’s so pretty and it really is a great break from the fast pace of the city.
Durban is the home of surfing. Everywhere you look tanned bodies are either holding surfboards, SUPs or body boards. If you don’t own a SUP there are plenty of places you can rent from along the beachfront. While the ocean can be a lot of fun, as a beginner flat water is always a better option and right next the sea on the Durban beachfront there is a place where you can paddle through the maze of canals of Durban’s Point Waterfront real estate development. It also runs along uShaka Marine and uShaka Sea World, which is ideal for beginners and novices. Adding to the thrill factor is the chance of seeing the juvenile hammerhead sharks in their cage, which backs up against the underwater fence of the canal, as you paddle past.
DURBAN NORTH COAST
80km from Durban is the gorgeous Dolphin Coast and the stunning nature conservancy of Zinkwazi. Its seven kilometers of untouched lagoon is the perfect place to SUP amongst nature. The name Zinkwazi, is Zulu for the home of Fish Eagles and for bird watching enthusiasts this is the ideal place to view these majestic creatures while out SUP’ing. Early morning is best to watch them swoop down into the water to catch fish. The calm and shallow conditions make it perfect, especially for kids, to enjoy all year round.
Bloemfontein might be far away from the coast but there is no shortage of rivers or dams nearby. There is a fantastic holiday spot called the River of Joy, set on the banks of the lazy Modder River, 1km from the N1 and 25km North of Bloemfontein. It’s a family-friendly destination offering mostly fishing, but if you bring along your SUP you’ll have access to fantastic bird life and possible game viewing along the banks.
Another place to add to your bucket list is the Gariep Dam.
Its huge expanse of water and excellent climate makes it a haven for watersport enthusiasts. Besides SUP’ing you can also canoe, sail, fish and water-ski. But you’ll need to bring along your own SUP as there are no rentals available.
CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS
The Cape offers so much in terms of water and scenery. Hout Bay harbour is a great place to visit with lots to see and do. It’s also very easy to launch your SUP from the beach. Paddling amongst the boats in the harbour or along the cliffs to the left of the main beach, hugging the slopes of Chapman’s Peak, gives you the chance to see this special part of Cape Town.
If it’s a view of Table Mountain you’re after check out the V&A Waterfront canals, it’s also calm and perfect for beginners. One hour outside of Cape Town is the West Coast National Park, one of the Cape’s hidden gems. Its shallow turquoise water is a haven for boaters, kiters, water-skiers and SUP’ers. And worth more than just a day visit. It’s also extremely shallow and warm.
South Africa is by far one of the most beautiful places in the world to SUP. With so many destinations to choose from, one doesn’t need to live at the coast to give it a try.
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