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The Inside Scoop: Primitive Outback Kayaking

It has been HOT lately so my oldest sister Ruby and I were on the hunt for something fun, local, and easy to do while the kids were at summer camp last week to cool down so we headed to Primitive Outback Kayak in Otto for the day. Y’all, when I tell you this was the PERFECT relaxing way to spend an afternoon… I am not joking! 

Tucked away in Otto, Primitive Outback offers an easy, family-friendly 2 1/2 to 3-hour self-guided kayaking trip along the Little Tennessee River. They provide you with everything you need — life jackets, waterproof boxes for phones and keys, kayaks, even a bottle of water that highly recommend you take! But kayaking the Little Tennessee isn’t the only fun they have available — Ruby and I loved getting to snuggle their newest additions — Gemma and Rocky — baby goats. They were stinking adorable and make for the perfect little mascots. 

After feeding Gemma and Rocky some flowers, Ruby and I grabbed our kayaks, posed for some pictures that Ivan and Jen were so gracious to take for us, and began our trip! We didn’t have the kiddos with us, but the trip was so easy, that even Kyler, my two year old would have been safe to ride with me and I am sure he would have loved it! 

The pace is slow, but enough that if we had more time, we could have let the river do all the work. The river moved steadily and winded around the southeast portion of Macon County. There were shallow spots that would have been perfect for wading, and several deep spots with rope swings spotted in the trees that would have made for the perfect swimming break. 

We were even caught in a little summer shower, but the natural canopy from the tresses shaded us from the rain — and the sun when it broke through the clouds. 

Meandering under the bridges was really cool and we had so much fun spotting different wildlife. From bluebirds to baby mallards, to even a fawn getting a cool drink on the river’s edge, there was plenty to see. A turtle scurried off the riverbank when I rounded one corner, starling me. But after I moved past his sunbathing spot, he made his way back out unbothered by us. 

We didn’t see another person the entire trip — our own private river. We had the best time just catching up. Ruby is my older sister and since we are both small business owners and mommas — we don’t always have the sister time we need. A day on the river was the perfect solution. 

It was so nice to have the Primitive Outback shuttle waiting for us when we got out at the takeout point— so we didn’t have to worry about getting to and from anywhere. They really handled everything, all we had to do was float! 

Primitive Outback also has a covered outdoor mining flume that new owners, Jen and Ivan Glick, have completely revamped since taking the reins last year. They have packed the mining buckets full of goodies like fossils and arrowheads in addition to gems and minerals, making for a fun treasure hunting experience!

The Kayaking Adventure is $35/person and that includes the 3-hour kayak rental, life jacket, paddle, dry box, and shuttle back. They do highly recommend reservations so the time and kayaks you would like are available — they specifically space out the trips so you get to enjoy the river without too much other commotion, which is super nice! 

The Gem Mining fun for gemstones and fossils ranges from $15 to $100 and you can share the gigantic buckets with your entire party. It’s good (dirty) clean fun for the entire family!

“We love treasure hunting, kayaking, and nature since we both were kids,” said Jen and Ivan. “We are grateful to share our passions with everyone to have fun and enjoy.”

Jen and Ivan bought Primitive Outback Kayaking last year and moved from Florida to Macon County to operate the business. They have expanded on long-time favorites and have created new opportunities for fun such as the fainting goats! 

“Some of the upgrades we made for the business to be more fun for the entire family include more treasure to the buckets with additional gemstones, arrowheads, shark teeth, and fossils,” they said. “We also added more kayaks, a kayak shuttle van, and a trailer. For even more fun we added our baby fainting goats to visit, pet, and feed for no charge. Furthermore, we take pictures for you going on the kayaking adventure and send them to you at no charge for a wonderful memory of your adventure kayaking. Road and landscaping improvements have been completed.” 

To better serve the community Jen and Ivan have more exciting additions in the works such as making Primitive Outback available for birthday parties and field trips! If you are looking for something fun and relaxing to do, I highly suggest visiting Jen and Ivan! Tell them that the Southern Scoop sent you!

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