Rowing the route: a kayaking journey along the Garden Route

Posted on 5 January 2023 By David Henning

Frederik van Deventer will take the long, arduous and rather unconventional trip along the Garden Route – he’s going to row it. Yes, Freddie will be taking a kayak and an oar and embarking on a 300 km paddle along its shores. It can be treacherous but will be beautiful no doubt. We caught up with Frederik before he departs on his journey to get the details of the trip, his intense training schedule and why he’s doing it.

ALSO READ: Things to do in George: unearthing the Garden Route gem

Can you tell us about the route?

Rowing the Route is a 21-day kayak tour where I will be rowing 300 kilometres on the Indian Ocean – from Storms River in the Eastern Cape, along the Garden Route, all the way to Witsand in the Western Cape. The idea of undertaking an adventure like this originated when I was still a young boy watching documentaries on Discovery Channel.

I was fascinated by Bear Grylls’ adventures and Levison Wood, who walked the length of the Nile River. When I recently read about Riaan Manser riding his bike around Africa and circumnavigating Madagascar by kayak, the adventurer in me wanted to have a real expedition of my own. Determining the best-suited expedition took serious consideration since I have limited time and the adventure should be doable for entry-level adventurers, like me.

What better first adventure than rowing along the Garden Route with its natural beauty and wildlife? I have a team of friends who will be driving along the route to support me and document the journey from the coast. We will be camping at different spots along the Garden Route every night.

The dangers I might face are quite obvious, such as storms, strong currents that could sweep me out into the sea and, of course, the danger of the many great white sharks swimming up and down the coast. But then again, what is an adventure without any danger and challenges?

What kayak are you taking, anything special about it?

I will be using an Epic v7 surf ski kayak from North-West University (NWU). It is a seafaring kayak with a built-in rudder and will be my companion with which I will tackle the Indian Ocean.

How much have you trained for the trip?

To thoroughly prepare for the journey, I am following quite an intense training program. It consists of four gym sessions and two rowing sessions (of 15 to 20 kilometres each) per week. The gym sessions mainly focus on core strengthening exercises and cardio to ensure that I am generally fit enough to undertake the adventure.

Since the 8th grade, my family and I have been going to places like Knysna, Buffels Bay and Plettenberg Bay and that is where my interest in kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding began. During these visits, I would row for kilometres at a time on rivers and out into the sea. This taught me to have great respect for the ocean and how brutal it could be.

What different things do you expect to see?

I am expecting to see the usual oceanic animals such as penguins, Cape fur seals and hopefully a pod of curious Indian Ocean Bottle-nosed dolphins swimming alongside me to investigate the kayak.

What are you excited to see? What are your expectations?

I am hoping to see as much marine life as possible. I think it would really be a humbling experience to row alongside ocean giants such as humpback whales. The idea of possibly seeing killer whales also gets me excited.

Any concerns regarding the trip?

Although I am mostly filled with excitement, there are some concerns regarding storms and unpleasant conditions that could be a speed bump in the journey. Nevertheless, I aim to keep my head down and complete the journey no matter the challenges.

Frederik’s route

A section of the garden route coast Frederik will be rowing. Picture: South African Tourism

Day 1 – 6 January

  • Depart from Storms river mouth camp on the 6th of January 2023
  • To Oakhurst huts(Otter trail), 16 km in – Sleep/Camp here

Day 2  – 7 January

  • Depart from Oakhurst huts 
  • To Natures valley, 31 km in – Pitstop
  • To Keurbooms Strand/Enrico’s Restaurant 42 km in – Sleep/Camp here 

Day 3 – 8 January

  • Depart from Keurbooms
  • To Robberg 5 Beach, 54 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Fountain Shack Robberg Nature reserve 62 km in – Sleep/Camp here

Day 4 – 9 January

  • Depart from Fountain Shack 
  • To Crooks river, 76 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Knoetzie Beach, 88 km in – Sleep/Camp here 

Day 5 – 10 January

  • Depart from Knoetzie beach 
  • To Brenton on Sea, 100 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Buffelsbaai (Caravan Park) 104 km in – Camp here 

Day 6 – 11 January

  • Depart from Buffelsbaai 
  • To Goukama Nature Reserve, 119 km in – Pitstop
  • To Sedgefield (Pilli Pilli Beach Cabanas) 122 km in – Sleep here

Day 7 – 12 January 

  • Depart from Sedgefield 
  • To Dolphin Paragliding (beach), 136 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Wilderness 143 km in ( Far Niente Beachfront guesthouse) – Sleep here 

Day 8 – 13 January

  • Depart from Wilderness 
  • To Aqua Eden Camping Ground George, 160 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Herolds bay (Oppie-See self-catering apartments), 165km in 

Day 9 – 14 January

  • Depart from Herolds bay 
  • To Groot Brakrivier Mond, 180 km in – Pitstop
  • To Klein Brak Beach Park, 189 km in – Camp/ Sleep here

Day 10 (15 January) 

  • Depart from Klein Brak  
  • To Santos Beach (Mossel Bay), 200 km in – Pitstop 
  • To 1st Beach Dana Bay (Brander Buksie Guesthouse), 216 km in – Sleep here 

Day 11 (16 January)

  • Depart from Dana Bay 
  • To Vleesbaai (Fishermans Flat), 234 km in – Sleep here 

Day 12 (17 January)

  • Depart from Vleesbaai
  • To Gouritsmond Beach (Gourits Self Catering units) 247 km in – Sleep here

Day 13 (18 January) 

  • Depart Gouritsmond Beach 
  • To Reisiesbaan beach, 270 km in – Camp here

Day 14 (19 January) 

  • Depart Reisiesbaan 
  • To Rooikrans, 285 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Still Bay (Ellensrust Caravan Park), 295 km in – Camp here 

Day 15 (20 January)

  • Depart Still Bay
  • To Jongensfontein, 305 km in – Pitstop 
  • To Blomboschfontein Nature Reserve (Blombosstrand), 321 km in – Camp here

Day 16 (21 January)

  • Depart from Blombosstrand 
  • To Puntjie Nature Reserve 340 km in – Pitstop
  • End at Witsand 355 km in

ALSO READ: The Garden Route of all fear

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