In search of serenity and adrenaline at Sundays River

Port Elizabeth's Chasing the Rainbow Dirsuwei family head for the sand dunes

Sarah Dirsuwei of Port Elizabeth's Chasing the Rainbow family heads for the water
There is something very soothing about the gently rhythmic sound of lapping water. That feeling you get when you are lying on a tropical beach next to an ocean calmed by a coral reef, or on the shores of a giant freshwater lake - the tiny waves lapping again and again, lulling you into a sense of peace and stillness.
This is exactly what Ralph and I needed to help ease the stress of a busy work year, so we headed to Sundays River, just East of Port Elizabeth hoping for some meditation from Mother Nature herself.
While we were in search of serenity, the kids were hoping for adrenaline fuelled adventure and we found a blissful marriage of both with Sundays River Adventures.
We chose to start out with a guided canoe tour to the river mouth and end off with some sandboarding down the famous Alexandria dune mountains.
We were delighted to meet our guide for the day, Adam. We recognised him immediately although it took a while to place where we had met him before.
Once Jacob took out his fly rod and was casting from his canoe, a glimmer of recognition lit up in Adam’s eye. When we heard he had worked as a fishing guide on Lake Jozini in Northern KwaZulu Natal, we put two and two together and realised that he had guided us tiger fishing on board Shayamanzi houseboat.
Adam is passionate about fishing and wildlife and has a wealth of knowledge on everything to do with water, fish and birds. We were thrilled to have him guiding us on our canoe adventure. We donned red life jackets, split into pairs and were allocated brightly coloured double canoes. The launch jetty is located at the end of the sleepy village of Colchester with the river mouth located around 3.5km away.
We settled into a steady paddling rhythm with Adam leading us close to the shore and pointing out the magnificent birdlife. We saw three different types of Kingfishers – Malachite, Pied and Giant - who let us paddle within meters before taking off for other perches. We laughed at a pair of Water Thick-knees trying to hide behind rocks that were way too small, admired a White-breasted Cormorant sunning itself on a log and photographed a beautiful Little Egret. As we mozied down river, the only sound was of water gently lapping against our canoe and with each paddle stroke, our tension melted away. We meandered past red cliffs dotted with bird holes and lush dune vegetation to the rolling yellow hills of the Colchester dune fields, split in two by the sparkling blue water web of the Sundays River Estuary.
We docked our canoes and climbed right to the top of the very tallest sand dune and admired the view over the dune fields to St Croix Island. These magnificent dunes framing the estuary at Sundays River must be one of the most magical places on our planet.
We ran back down the steep dune, in massive lumbering steps, to our canoes for the trek back. The way back was a breeze, the light wind on our backs and the incoming tide propelling our boats forward. We hardly had to paddle at all and could just sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Once back at the jetty, we headed to A Taste of Africa, the restaurant run by the Sundays River Adventure owners, to ward off teenage hunger. The meal was superb and we were in good spirits as we headed back to board the cruise boat “Sundaze” and motored back again to the huge dunes.
The kids were each allocated a sand board, and they trotted up the dune with gusto. Adam Cobra-polished their boards and showed them how to stand up and point their arm straight in the direction they wanted to go. In no time they were zooming down the dunes, whooping and laughing, Jacob and Jess opted quickly for the bum boards but Luke and Cian mastered sandboarding with huge enthusiasm and relative ease.
Sundays River with its meandering, gently flowing river, bird filled shores, spectacular dune fields and pristine estuary is a truly incredible spot. We thoroughly enjoyed indulging in its calmness and celebrating its awesomeness.
Get in touch with the sandboarding crew
Facebook - @SandboardingSundaysRiver
Canoe trails to the river mouth are R350 per person and sandboarding is from R550 per person for 2 hours.
Read the Chasing the Rainbow family travel blog at

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