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Are you comfortable? Have you got your paddle? Ok good, let’s go.
Tracy pushes us out. Our yellow kayak makes a grating noise as it moves over the shells and sand and then we are on the water and gliding away smoothly. We move through the initial sea froth, disjointed in our initial strokes. Our kayak goes through the small gully, past the kelp forest and then out onto the ocean. We wait out there for our group to assemble, bobbing gently like apples in a bucket.
We’re in Cape Town’s Three Anchor Bay, near the V&A Waterfront, on a sunrise kayak trip with Kaskazi Kayak Tours. As with most wildlife outings, no sightings are guaranteed but kayakers can see Heaviside’s dolphins, dusky dolphins, common dolphins, humpback whales, southern right whales, African penguins, Cape fur seals, Cape cormorants and Cape gannets.
While we wait for our group to gather, our kayak of two quietly attempts to adapt to our new environment. Once we are all there and ready, our guide, Tracy, leads our group of seven kayaks up the coast towards Granger Bay. The first sign of life we see is jellyfish and lots of them. We glide above these small creatures, at their largest just a metre in length, for a few hundred metres and it seems like we pass over hundreds, if not thousands, of them. They float under us peacefully, zen-like spirits of the deep, and then disappear from our sight like an evaporating fog.
Let’s keep moving. We’re going around the bend, that’s where the dolphins like to play.
We paddle on and something catches the eye of one of the paddlers, who now leads the group to the right. Here are a group of African penguins, out looking for fish. “Most of them come from nearby Robben Island and come out hunting in the morning,” Tracy explains. They look so relaxed, a bunch of mates just floating in the water.
And then, a shout of delight. “There! There are dolphins.”
Forget the penguins – here are four common dolphins slowly gliding past us. We paddle towards them. They’re moving slowly, brushing the surface. We stop paddling and sit with them for a moment. Before long, the dolphins dive and we look at each other with big-eyed smiles.
I look back at the land. There is our city, the iconic mountain and the promenade with its morning joggers and walkers. Another day has begun. I look around at the calm water and, savouring the peacefulness, slowly breathe out. It’s the type of deep breath one can only have in wide open spaces. It’s normally reserved for mountaintops and open plains. But this morning, I find it out on the Atlantic Ocean.
Follow me. There should be more dolphins over there. That’s where they normally like to hang out.
We paddle on past the Green Point Lighthouse, just 100-metres from the shoreline. And then, almost on cue, more dolphins appear. A pod is swimming right towards us and we sit with our paddles resting on our knees as they near and – Oh wow one just jumped did you see that – the dolphins start leaping out the water as if to get a better look at us. A fellow kayaker calls it their, ‘Morning aerobics’.
We’re now surrounded by cavorting dolphins and I don’t really know where to look. There are some to my right, I just heard one come up to my left and there are still more coming. I watch a few dolphins swim out away from the shore and see two perfectly synchronised jumps, the timing and mirrored shape Olympics-worthy.
The dolphins ride small waves towards us and give us a show. There is nothing to do other than sit in delight and take it all in. We do just that, revelling in the action. After a while, however, we need to return. As we begin, a Cape fur seal pops up like a puppy eager to play. He flops around and swims with us for a short period until he grows bored and swims off.
As we joyously paddle back and relive the past hour, it strikes me that this must be one of the best ways one can start a day. At sea, on a crisp autumn morning, kayaking with penguins, dolphins and seals. And in winter, humpback whales and southern right whales visit our shores. I’ll just have to come back.*All photos by Kaskazi Kayaks
If you’d like to find out more about things to do in Cape Town, read our 56 Things to do in Cape Town blog. If you’d like to find out how you can come to Cape Town and South Africa and have a similar experience, you can talk to one of our consultants to find out more. And if you’d like to go kayaking yourself, contact Kaskazi Kayaks.
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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