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Innovative date idea: River rafting on the Jukskei

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By: Natasha Archary 

 

 

Can your relationship stand the test of time? There may not be an absolute way to find this out but if you are able to survive a gruelling two-hour river rafting experience, there’s not much else your relationship would not be able to withstand.

 

I don’t know many couples who are keen to take on the rapids of an unpredictable river but in hindsight, how predictable is a relationship? You can tell so much more about a person in an uncontrolled environment than you can during dinner and a movie.

 

It would give me insight into his actual persona. Not the facade one puts on to make a good impression. Is he chilled to the core or a total pansy?

 

I’m an adrenalin junkie by nature and it’s not easy to find a partner who’s into the thrill of adventure as much as I am. So testing his mettle is part of the initial dating phase. I call it weeding out the weak. If anything can determine whether or not we’d stand a chance at going steady, river rafting on the Jukskei River would be it.

 

Just 35 km from Johannesburg, and a stones throw away from Lanseria Airport, is the Ground Zero Adventures base-camp. Boasting an array of action-packed activities, the team specialises in river rafting and take on those white rapids like pros. All their guides are certified and I was confident that their expertise would keep my partner and I safe.

 

I can’t remember the last time I spent quality time with my better half. Work, family, mundane routines and the stresses of life, get in the way of having fun and trying something exciting. An average date night consists of takeout pizza and a movie, which we stream from the comfort of our living room. Something has to give. I have to find a way to inject some oomph into our lives.

 

River rafting may not be the most romantic date idea out there but it certainly is an innovative date. Deep in the heart of nature, with nothing but the sun and the river, it’s you against the elements and this is what is so exhilarating about the entire concept. This had to happen, whether he liked it or not, I would not allow him to whimp out.

 

We arrive at the base-camp and are greeted by the effervescent Storm. Much like the X-Men character, she oozes natural confidence as she exclaims “Are you guys ready? Is your relationship dead in the water?”

We can’t help but laugh it off, I mean she can’t be serious. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just a river after all. We’re kitted in life-jackets that are snapped really tight and helmets that made me feel ridiculous. “Try not to breathe,” I wink at my partner.

 

The brief survival demonstration by Renae, one of our guides, made things a little more real for me. “Should you fall off your raft, don’t try to swim…you will hit rocks! Just try to get onto your back, your life-jackets will help you float. Don’t try to stand, you could get your ankle snapped between rocks. Just lay on your back. We will come around to get you.”

 

We would be navigating through level one and level two rapids and facing the notorious Jacuzzi, a feisty level three that has been known to bring down CROCS and crew. Is it too late to call this off? A detailed demo of the raft, or CROC as it’s called and we were off. Carrying our raft down to the launch point we would then get onto the Jukskei. No turning back now. We were fortunate in that we had favourable weather conditions setting the tone for the day.

 

 

“This isn’t so bad. It’s actually quite fun.”

 

“Right means left, left means right. Did you not pay attention to the demonstration?”

 

I have never heard him take that tone with me before. Is he serious? Wait, we’re too far to the right, maybe I should actually listen to him. We paddle to the left to try to get our CROC on course again. To the right of us are really angry looking rocks.

 

“We need a rhythm. Take smaller strokes and try to keep it consistent. This isn’t a game, Natasha, take it seriously! We could get hurt. Do you understand that?”

 

Okay, it doesn’t sound like he’s easing into this does it? I get it, does he not think I understand? Yes, it’s a real life situation, and we’re on this river that stretches 390 KM within Johannesburg, so I get it, I did book this after all. Our course would be just 2,8 KM but if it’s this tough on the smoothest part, what would the intense rapids be like? We would soon find out.

 

 

The navigator (in our case, me) sits at the helm of the CROC, with the role of lookout being designated to me, I yell out that we were about to hit the first rapids straight ahead. My partner (Captain), at the back yelled out, “Brace yourself!”

 

We did so by grabbing the safety line on the CROC and took the impact of the first rapids like crash dummies. It was intense. We made it through the first hurdle on this course. There were about five more ahead of us. Hitting rocks along the way and getting wedged between these rocky hazards was not fun. We panicked, laughed so hard we cried and amidst it all, enjoyed the beauty that surrounded us when we could.

 

 

Breathtaking. Nature is insanely beautiful. The sun hitting the water, the trees that line the banks of the Jukskei, the birds who take to the sky with such freedom. It’s amazing what you take in when your smartphone is not in hand. Thirty minutes into the course, I felt my partner and I both relax. Placing our trust completely in each other. We were both determined to make it off this river in one piece. And we did.

 

Unscathed and completely in awe of our physical endurance and stamina, we survived something that was raw, untamed and terrifying. I would do it again in a heartbeat but then I’ve been told I’m far from normal so don’t take my word for it. Experience river rafting on the Jukskei with Ground Zero Adventures for yourself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1520514356894-ae76c149-ee71-1″ include=”8195,8194,8193,8192,8191,8190,8189,8188,8187,8186,8184,8183″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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