Plenty of exercise and relaxation, with fantastic cooking, good company and stunning scenery, made for an intense experience.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
One of the highlights of the trip was coming alongside at Ucagiz. This felt like a fairly unspoiled town with tiny streets snaking up the hill through the creamy stone houses. It was baking hot and dusty, I liked the contrast between that and baking hot and wet, which we'd been while kayaking and on the boat!
Another personal favourite was snorkelling and following a little squid, which I'm sure was looking at me as it fluttered off.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Ali was always professional, obviously loved being on the water, was a very competent kayaker, and spoke very good english. Although he was sick for some of our trip he kept a smile on his face and made sure we were coping with the day. He was obviously used to groups of english people: our interminable questions, and patient while we dithered about packing dry bags and suncream. I would have liked more input about the history and natural history of the area.I was also rather concerned that we had had no training on emergency situations before we set off on what was a (ridiculously) long first day.
There was another, younger lad who was being trained up as our second guide. Unfortunately, despite being a good kayaker, he was very shy and inexperienced with tourists. I felt he made Ali's work harder, not easier.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Although the Med. is supposed to be a gentle sea, it is a sea and you should think twice about this trip if you have a sensitive stomach or ears. The wind got up to a force 3 the first morning. There was a cross current in the bay and round the headland. Three of us (including me) were seasick the first morning, resulting in one double kayak capsizing. One solo (not me) kayaker had to be transferred into a spare space in a double kayak as she was too ill to continue. Obviously if you are feeling sick, staying on the support boat doesnt bring any relief. The usual seasickness remedies can make you sleepy which is a dangerous state to be in if you are paddling.
However, the scenery is stunning and the repetitivenes of sun, sea, rocks and olive trees is quite soothing. Take a mask and snorkell to get the best out of swim stops, and for fun in the (short) evenings. Take some cards, a head torch, (useful for the cook trying to do a BBQ on the prow!) instruments or games for the evenings. The time spent travelling by kayak and support boat was magical, waking up to the sound - and smell!- of wild goats nipping through the olive groves past your tent, gazing at the Milky Way and zillions of stars, the thick silence at night, we all looked a bit wild with salty hair and bleached shirts, it was great!
You'll need to really enjoy the physical sensation of feeling your arms and stomach working hard for about 4 hours a day, sometimes it's a bit of a slog and there isn't much playful kayaking to be done. I'd have liked a bit more interesting paddling, the Blue Cave only took us about 10 minutes to paddle through.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Note that on the first day you will be paddling about 20 km in unfamiliar climate, environment and with unfamiliar equipment. This first day is the longest for some reason. We were worried we wouldn't be able to keep up. The days got easier and easier after that which seemed back to front.
You should make sure there is proper support for the group leader. The young lad we had was a good kayaker, but would have been unable to take over in an emergency.
Finally, Aisha's cooking on the support boat! This was the best we had, better than the restaurants we visited. How she managed to conjure up a five dish meal for 16 twice a day in such a tiny space was amazing.