THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN, MAY 26-27, 2012 www.theaustralian.com.

au

DESTINATION AFLOAT 9

Hearty adventures, ahoy
Memorable moments on waterways great and small
Funyaking, Dart River, Queenstown: Whoever put the word fun in funyaking has a tenuous grip on reality. I can find nothing enjoyable about my struggle to manoeuvre an inflatable kayak along the swirling Dart River just north of Queenstown, the so-called adventure capital of New Zealand’s South Island. Waterborne activities and over-exertion are not my idea of a good time so it’s under duress that I’ve signed up for this excursion offered by Blanket Bay lodge on Lake Wakatipu, 35 minutes from Queenstown. It’s described as an opportunity to ‘‘paddle to paradise in your inflatable canoe’’, but instead I’ve arrived in hell. Led in blustery winds down the choppy waterway by an eccentric Kiwi guide, dark clouds looming overhead, I am contemplating divorce from my adventureminded husband, now behind me in the two-person craft, for getting me into this mess. ‘‘Rudder right, rudder riiiiiiight,’’ he shouts as, red-faced and out of breath, I rudder left and maroon us once again on the rocky shore. It seems like days before the ordeal is over (although it must be an hour at most since we set off) and I head directly for the comfort of the Blanket Bay bar where, it has to be said, one can have much more fun yakking over a nice glass of pinot noir. More: blanketbay.com.
MICHELLE ROWE

no pollution, no shoeshine fellows wanting to polish your Dunlop Volleys . . .’’ she says. Jo isn’t always right. From the crowded deck, the Bosphorus, one of the world’s great waterways, looks green, oily and polluted. It is also dizzy with boats, from wooden caiques to Russian tankers. The air, though, is splendid. The gale rises as Istanbul’s domes and minarets recede, spilling our apple tea and mingling the aromas of brine, diesel and tobacco on the gull-laden air. ‘‘More like the drunken boat,’’ I remark as, rolling and pitching, we ricochet back and forth between Europe and Asia, seeing the sights: the Beylerbeyi palace, Florence Nightingale’s old hospital, castles and bridges. There are villages with fish restaurants, crowds, and yalis, Ottoman mansions constructed of timber, at which fellow passengers gape and click their cameras. Things are more raffish upstream, where vegetation proliferates beneath an expanding sky. The Black Sea proves to be green, while the wind discourages a hike to the castle at Anadolu Kavagi, our final stop, meaning an early lunch. We select an establishment labelled ‘‘fish restaurant’’ in English where there are spread nets and caiques but no shoeshine fellows. More: goturkey.com.
IAN ROBERT SMITH

KERRY LORIMER

Kayakers on the lookout for killer whales off Vancouver Island

ALAMY

ALAMY

With an arm and a leg looped around a long oar, the fishermen on Burma’s Inle Lake propel and steer their boats

Fishing on Inle Lake, Burma: It’s early morning on Inle Lake and an extraordinary water ballet unfolds in slow motion. Fishermen in broad-brimmed hats glide across the lake surface with one arm and a leg looped around a long oar. With silent grace they slice their paddles through the water, simultaneously propelling their boats forward and steering them across the still expanse. Occasionally they will stop and haul a huge, cone-shaped fishing net from the floor of their flatbottomed canoes, then lower it into the reedy waters. They are efficient anglers, using a spear to scare fish into their cobwebby nets before returning them — and their catch — to the hull. The balance managed by these guys is astonishing. It’s the most efficient use of four limbs you’re likely to see. Visits to the Intha people’s stilt villages, floating vegetable gardens, tribal markets and golden pagodas round out a morning in this special place. Longboat captains in the lakeside villages are more than happy to take tourists out for a fee. Aim to set out at dawn, when the light is lovely. More: tourismmyanmar.org.
KENDALL HILL

MATTHEW CROMPTON

The gentle morning beach break at Coffee Bay is one of the best in South Africa and perfect for novice surfers
On this occasion, we are off Bering Island, which in turn is off the wild Kamchatka coast of far eastern Russia. The sea and fog are pearlescent as six of us paddle away from the mother ship. Suddenly, four sleek dark heads periscope up, checking us out — it’s a romp of fur seal cubs. Simultaneously curious and cautious, they surface fleetingly to disappear, then rapidly pop up again behind us. Such is morning in the Commander Islands. Jutting from the Pacific like a grand, green mountain range, the archipelago is named for commander Vitus Bering, the Dane who charted this coast for the Russian tsar and who perished here in 1741. We glide ashore at Cape Severo Zapadnyi, spotting eagles, seals and sea lions on the deserted beach. It’s a realm still so remote that the only paths are, as John Masefield wrote, ‘‘the gull’s way and the whale’s way’’. This morning, mercifully, the wind’s like a sheathed knife. More: southernseaventures.com.
JOHN BORTHWICK

Kayaking, far eastern Russia: I have known waterman Al Bakker for 20 years and hardly have I seen him on dry land or even spotted his legs. Whether on a Fijian lagoon or amid Arctic ice-floes, you usually see just the upper half of this wiry Canadian-Australian; typically, he’ll be tucked into a seakayak that he’s paddling faster, farther and more effortlessly than any in the group he’s leading.

Kayaking with killer whales, Johnstone Strait, Vancouver Island, Canada: Nobody knows why the wild whales come to rub

their bellies on the smooth pebbles in the shallows of Robson Bight, but consensus is they do it because it just feels good. Drifting in a sea kayak, eavesdropping on their conversations via hydrophone, it’s hard to believe the whales’ high-pitched calls aren’t squeals of delight. Over four days of paddling, our group of 12 kayakers spies, through binoculars, pods of 20 or more killer whales hunting, sleeping and playing, the adults’ 2m dorsal fins rhythmically slicing the water as youngsters cavort around their mothers. We never come really close to these orcas, but we find ourselves near enough to smell the fishy breath of a breaching humpback and, on another morning, float motionless in our kayaks a few metres from shore as a brown bear forages along the water’s edge, oblivious to our presence. Our little flotilla is blitzed by a pod of 40 Pacific white-sided dolphins, speeding past so fast the sea sizzles. On yet another silvery, still morning, we explore the garish world of the intertidal zone, populated by gelatinous violet starfish the size of dinner plates. More: kayakingtours.com.
KERRY LORIMER

Elafiti Islands, Dalmatian Coast: Strung out like a trio of emeralds in the dreamy Adriatic, the Elafiti Islands make a verdant diversion from the grandeur of nearby Dubrovnik. The closest island, Kolocep, is given over to pine forests, olive groves and vineyards with a scattering of elegantly ruined Romanesque churches, two hamlets and a couple of pebbly beaches, one where you can get your kit off. Sipan, the largest of the islands at 16sq km, was a favourite of the 15th-century Ragusan ship-owning nobility, who built homes, churches and monasteries. The island was beset by pirates throughout history, but today its quiet coves and beaches see little swashbuckling activity. Loveliest of the Elafiti threesome is car-free Lopud. Visiting craft moor at a picture-book waterfront lined with stone houses and cafes and bookended by a distinctively Dalmatian Franciscan church tower. A walk across the interior of the island, amid wild blackberry, aniseed, emerald pines and skittish lizards, leads to the sandy crescent of Sunj Beach where old salts can put up their feet at a basic restaurant specialising in grilled sardines. Tour boats and ferries from Dubrovnik make a leisurely round

of the islands through summer. More: croatiatraveller.com.
WILLIAM GOURLAY

A ferry on Turkey’s Bosphorus: My girlfriend Jo calls it the great escape — a jaunt by ferry from Istanbul up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea and back. ‘‘No crowds,

Surfing, Coffee Bay, South Africa: They call this place the Wild Coast and it’s wild in more ways than one. As I balance atop my board, waiting for the swell, the morning sun flashes like sparks on the surface of the ocean and I can see cows lounging on the deserted beach of Coffee Bay. Come afternoon, the tide will change, and heavy cross currents will turn the bay’s clean, predictable swell into a dizzy spin cycle; but for now this gentle beach break is one of South Africa’s best, perfect for beginners like me. I have come to love this place with its green hills dotted with traditional stone rondavel huts, stray goats and chickens wandering the long and rough roads, and the easygoing humour of the Xhosa people. As a wave lifts me, I flatten my body to the longboard and begin paddling, feeling secure in my balance and certain that I’ve timed it right. With a sense of triumph, I stand shakily, the African sun warming my shoulders. More: coffeeshack.co.za.
MATTHEW CROMPTON

Istanbul’s Thracian Castle overlooks the Bosphorus Strait

TOURISM NEW ZEALAND/DART RIVER SAFARIS

Funyaking on the Dart River near Queenstown

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FROM/TO

SEG. 1 SEG.2 SEG. 3 SEG. 4 CIRCLE

07 Jan 21 Jan 14 Feb 26 Feb 07 Jan

14 24 12 22 72

Miami to Lima (Callao) Lima (Callao) to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro to Miami Miami to Miami

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US$600 US$600 US$500 US$700 US$1,000

BRIDGETOWN WILLEMSTAD MACAPÁ DEVIL’S ISLAND FORTALEZA

MANTA GUAYAQUIL SALAVERRY

ALTER DO CHÃO
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BOCA DA VALERIA
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SANTARÉM
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(AMAZON RIVER)

MANAUS

LIMA (CALLAO) PISCO MATARANI (AREQUIPA)

PARINTINS
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SALVADOR DE BAHIA

ANTOFAGASTA COQUIMBO
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RIO DE JANEIRO PARATY ILHABELA SANTOS ILHA GRANDE PORTO BELO BUENOS AIRES RIO GRANDE

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