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Eastern Cape - Wild Coast

Port Elizabeth, Hogsback, Mthatha, Coffee Bay, Port St Johns, Durban

I arrived in Durban tonight after a really relaxing week on the Wild Coast. First night I think since Dar es Salaam that hasn�t been cold. It was like a warm summer night at 9 tonight when I arrived. From Port Elizabeth we left early on the Bazbus last Wednesday and drove 3-4 hours up to East London on the Eastern Cape Coast. From here I got a coach to a town called Alice, where Fort Hare University is located. Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe and Robert Mugabe all attended this Uni when it was known as the �South African Native College�. I had to get off here and walk through town looking for the place my lift was picking me up from. The lady picking me up said she could spot me from a mile away, there was no way I looked anything but a tourist. Then drove up to the Eastern Cape Inland to Hogsback, a small town 1300m up the Amathole Mountains, which rise from dry grassy valleys and farmlands around. I stayed at �Away with the Fairies� where my room overlooked the peaks of the Hogsback Mountains and from my bed (which wasn�t a bunk bed!!!) I could watch the rare Samango monkeys playing in the trees outside. Apparently this area was the inspiration behind the Lord of the Rings movies.

Last Thursday I did a hike, guided by 2 dogs from the hostel who genuinely did help me with my directions, through the indigenous rainforests to several waterfalls. Was nice to be on my feet after long days sitting on the bus. I had 2 nights in Hogsback then headed back down to be picked up from East London and head to the Wild Coast. The drive day was really pretty and interesting too as our driver gave us a bit of a �guided tour� as we drove through the Transkei (I�m not sure you are meant to refer to the area as this post-apartheid, I think it is all technically the Wild Coast now, but our driver was using this term and it is more well known soo�.). It was back to the Africa of the �other Big 5� � donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs and cows controlling traffic movements, thatched clay huts all painted greens and yellows and pinks, women carrying loads on their heads, and shores of rivers scattered with bright clothes and blankets drying as the women wash. We passed Qunu, where Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu grew up around. Also stopped outside the house the ANC built for Nelson Mandela and where he has been staying for the past few months. The flags were up so he was in there as we drove by! Little bit nerdy but exciting. From Mthatha I got a shuttle to Coffee Bay, a rural village at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. There is not much to the town, but it was a really nice place to relax and catch some sun for a couple of days. The Xhosa people in the area are really nice and refer to the ladies as �Mama� and me as �Sissy�.Many of the women wear their faces painted with clay. I stayed in a tent on the edge of the river for the 3 nights (not because I miss being in a tent) and enjoyed the cocktail sampling throughout the days. One of the guys at the hostel took a few of us fishing at the Mthatha river one afternoon, but there was no fish on the menu that night. The driver I had to Coffee Bay and also back to Mthatha (after a few stops to do his grocery shopping) was the sweetest old man. It was all �Yes Sissy�, �Thank you Sissy�, �Sorry Sissy�. From Mthatha I got another shuttle to Port St Johns. Much the same drive as on the way to Coffee bay, along the winding road around the hills of the rural areas.

Port St Johns is another coastal town, and another one of those places full of people who had been travelling and just never left. I felt I could have been anywhere else in Africa driving through town, with fruit and veg stalls set up, African music playing loudly from falling apart vans, and lots of dreadlocks. My hostel was near 2nd Beach, on the side of a mountain and again near the river as it meets the ocean. The sign at the beach clearly states no swimming allowed, as the area is infamous for shark attacks and there have been several in the past year or so. But the sign also says no dogs, no drinking alcohol, no littering and many other �no-no�s�. I sat amongst the litter on the beach, patting a couple of dogs, watching surfers in the water, and guys on the beach drinking. So much for the sign. The area is pretty tropical, I did a walk around some of the hills around the coast and they are all palm trees and tropical plants which makes a really pretty view. Also did a hike to a few waterfalls, this time with a person as a guide though. And a dog as well. Spent a day relaxing on the beach, and was a bit annoyed when I heard a load of noise and was woken from my nap. I thought a beach party must be starting, but all was forgiven when I looked up to see 20-30 topless SA army guys splashing about in the water. And that was my afternoon sorted! The hostel was very laid back�.VERY laid back. Dreadlocks were all the fashion and funny cigarettes. Sometimes, I just want a simple answer to a question though (one of those �just asking to be polite and make conversation� questions). �Where are you from?� � �Everywhere/All over man��.just answer the damn question hippie! Or �Is that your dog?� � �I am it�s guardian� to which I laughed thinking he meant he means he is dog sitting, but then had to sit and listen to how �one can�t �own� another being��.bla bla bla, meanwhile I was just planning my escape. A few of us went up to the airstrip Wednesday afternoon for sundowner drinks. The airstrip is about 400m up and has 360 degree views of the whole area which was beautiful. This morning was back to Mthatha again and the Bazbus to Durban, just for the night though. Nice to be around people who brush their hair and move faster than snails pace again. Missing home, actually dreamt about eating vegemite on toast the other night. How depressing to wake up to my very nutritious mayonnaise on toast.

Posted by neerg_08 13:03 Archived in South Africa Tagged coast eastern wild port bay st coffee cape durban alice elizabeth transkei hogsback mthatha johns qunu

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