transkei trippin'

12-18 May

After leaving Mdumbi we drove further north to Prt St John's. Bananas, avocados, bananas, avocados, bananas, avocados everywhere! We picked up 16 coconut-sized avos for R30! Apart from a flat tyre with 4kms to go, the trip was pretty smooth sailing- no car sick dogs, roadblocks/works, near-death experiences and min potholes! We arrived at Amapondo backpackers around 5pm with purple skies and warm air all around. This is definitely one of the best backpackers we found along the way- must see! While we were there we did 2 cool walks- one to a small waterfall in the jungle nearby and another to see 'the gap' (a narrow channel between rocks on the cliffside) and 'the blowhole' (a small opening in the rocks where the water spew upwards at high tide, like a whale's blowhole). We had some boggy weather too, which meant chilled poker, craft and travel planning days. I helped by painting a hot drinks sign for the bar and Jeff played some poker with a few locals :) There is a resident donkey in the campsite there, only 8 months old and terribly cute. Her name is Donkilizwe and she came to visit us every morning, and slept outside out tent at night. I already miss the sound of her jingle bells in the night time! They also have a really beautiful peacock! He wasn't around too much after Venus tried to have a nibble on his tail (to which he responded by making a distressed trumpet-like noise for a while after), but I managed to get a half decent photo in the end. We had a really great stay there- thanks to all the amazing staff- your vibe is great and the energy you create for that place is awesome!

1-12 May

We packed up our tent and loaded the car early the next morning, and left Bulungula heading towards Mdumbi. One can usually take a shortcut across the Umtata River bridge near Coffee Bay, however, it had been washed away in the storm and so we had to take a rather long detour via Mthatha on the N2. We finally got there and set up camp, and were welcomed by MORE smiling faces and friendly animals. No less than an hour after we were approached by some local fishermen selling huge crayfish and oysters! Apparently on a Saturday night the backpackers does a seafood buffet style dinner for R65, but there weren't enough people signed up both times for us to try it out.. hopefully you'll have better luck if you go in season? While the sun was out we spent time down at the beach, surfing, swimming or walking around checking out the scenery, however, we had some bad weather which meant reading and crafting inside or in the hammocks under the boma was in order. I helped out a little by hand sewing some bags for all their games pieces (chess, checkers, cards etc) and on the better days, Jeff planted some cool things in their garden for use by the preschool and staff. On the 10th it was Jeff's 26th birthday, so we had pancakes for breakfast and headed north up the beach for a chilled walk and some beach time where we saw lots of mamas collecting shells, oysters and firewood. Later that day there was a group of adventure gap year students (23 of them) who joined the campsite so it was quite crowded after that.. plus the rain came back! We did some more craft and garden work and then set off again further north to Port St John's. Thank you to Mike and Madeleine for making us feel so at home, we loved staying here and the relaxed atmosphere Mdumbi backpackers has. All the best with the building and we'll see you next time! x 

22 April- 1 May

After waiting for our tent and clothes to dry out a bit, we packed up in Coffee Bay and headed for Bulungula. PRINT A MAP FROM THEIR SITE IF YOU DECIDE TO VISIT HERE. haha. It took us a little longer than expected due to strange directions given by locals and getting stuck in the mud left after the storm. It's all dirt/gravel road, nothing that our off-road Tazz isn't used to after old Hogsback though. So we finally made it there just before dusk, (after passing a beautiful pink-orange sky and many little colourful huts and smiling faces. and goats and cows and sheep and more cows and a few piggies too) and went to check in. We were a little nervous about leaving all our belongings in the car (it's a fair walk from the carpark to the backpackers) but were reassured that everything was fine as there was a night watchman. (R15 per car per night). Yay! We set up our tent in one of the prime spots in the campsite- with a perfect view of the sunrise in the mornings. And did we get some of those- a flask of hot coffee at 6.00am and the colour show started around 6.15am- check the pics! We spent some days reading and relaxing on the beach, and walking north and southwards along the beaches. The river mouth was open and quite deep after the floods, the water a bit murky, and a lot of debris was left on the beaches. This all cleared up 2 days later though and we became familiar with the beautiful place around us. On one day we swam over the river mouth and walked north up the beach to a mountain on where the locals go to pray for rain (Rain Mountain). It's beautiful and covered in aloes! The route there was a little wobbly walking along narrow goat and cattle paths along the coastline/cliffs. We also found the private beach a little further on and stayed there for lunch and reading time. On some of the other days we attempted fishing. Sigh. We went out onto barnacle-covered rocks barefoot amongst crashing waves trying to catch a type of fish called 'blacktail'. The locals were pulling in fish after fish after fish after fish..and they didn't stop coming! Although when we tried we only got a few nibbles and lost some tackle on the rocks. We lent our rods to two young local men a few days after our extensive efforts to catch something, and they caught so many that they brought home 3 fish for us as a thank you gift! They were delicious.. and made us a little less sad that we couldn't catch our own haha. Bulungula is "solar powered and rocket showered", meaning that all the power is solar generated (they have a very impressive solar panel setup) and their showers a fuelled by parrafin soaked toilet paper- hot and steamy and ultra cleany! The toilets are 'long-drop'/compost toilets, but are kept really clean and tidy and virtually smell free- PLUS the walls in both the showers and toilets are covered in colourful murals.. could get lost in there for days!

After 6 glorious days at Bulungula, we packed light packs (leaving our car and tent), crossed the river and headed north again along the coast- this time further along about 12km to Wild Lubanzi backapckers. This walk was advertised to take about 4-6 hours but it took us around 7-8 hours to complete! We suspect this was because we had to detour some rivers as they were too deep to cross with heavy packs. Anyway, we finally reached Lubanzi  after ups and downs on grassy hills and were warmly welcomed by Aiden, one of the owners, and his two huge rhodesian ridgebacks, Carob and Cashew. It was quiet and peaceful, although a bit windy and we watched the waves and the changing sky sheltered by banana palm trees and bamboo windbreaks wrapped in guavadilla (hybrid between guava and granadilla) vines. We had a really comfortable room for the night (great after camping on hard ground for more than a week!) and slept really well, to wake up to another spectacular day. We decided to walk to Hole in the Wall, where there literally is a hole in a large rock wall from years of crashing waves. This was a short walk, about 1.5 hours each way and we stopped for a while in the middle. Awesome views and photos! We walked back to the backpackers and went to the local shebeen to pick up some goodies for lunch. It's quite hard to find fresh healthy things in these parts, but most of the backpackers do make really scrumptious, affordable (most of the time) meals for those who are not self-catering (like us). We decided to eat the dinner there that night though, and were very impressed with a full flavoured vegetarian poitjie with salad and rice. We stayed up late that night chatting to the guests about travels and general whatnots.

In the morning we set off early because we decided to take the inland route home through the villages and we weren't really sure how long it would take after our first excursion haha. It only took us 4 hours in the end, and we made it home by 12am for a toasted sandwich made with xhosa bread from the mama's in the Bulungula kitchen. Yum! We had swims and showers and watched the sunset, followed by an easy chilled evening. Thank you to both superb backpackers where we stayed- we will definitely be back some day!

 view from the tent


 rain mountain

 rain mountain

 aqua doooogg

 crossing the river higher up, on our way to Lubanzi
 wet weenie

 view of Bulungula from other side of river

 sunrise at Lubanzi
 free filter coffee in the mornings- thanks Aiden!


 hole in the wall!


 Lubanzi beach

 sunrise/reading spot

 world's best watch-geese

19-22 April

We packed up our things and headed for the Kei River Mouth where we got the ferry across to the other side. For only R60 this is a great alternative to taking the long (boring) road around and not something you do everyday. Once on the other side, we were officially in the Transkei- yay! We drove to Mazeppa Bay where we walked across a bridge to a rock island not too far from the shore. We were intending on staying the night, but the accommodation there wasn't too promising so we decided to carry on to Coffee Bay, where we were welcomed by friendly staff and four legged friends at Sugarloaf Backpackers. The next day it began to rain.. and rain.. and rain. And it didn't stop for 2 days! This meant lots of tea and documentary watching while waiting for the sun to come out.. at one stage the storm winds nearly took out our tent in the middle of the night, so we had to pack it up in the rain but we were given a warm dry room the night after that. Thanks Chris! When there was a break in the storm, we took a walk around town to see what was gong on- everywhere and everything was pretty soggy, but people were still doing their thing and Papazello's was making some delicious pizza (and have great view from the top)! Coffee Bay has definitely changed for the worse over the years- I'd like to give it a third chance to live up to its popular reputation, however, it's sad to say but this time we were not very impressed- it was dirty, smelly and looked as though the town was suffering a bad hangover. Thankfully we had some good times at Sugarloaf despite the bad weather. Thanks to Jess and Chris for lending us dry clothes and handing out much needed blankets to us tent folk, and thanks for making us feel so at home. See you next time! x

taking the ferry across the kei river

mazeppa bay

Coffee Bay


17-19 April

We packed up and left Cintsa early morning after sunrise and breakfast, and drove on towards Morgan Bay, our next stop. On our way there we stopped off in Haga Haga to take a walk on the beach. Then we continued to Morgan Bay, where we set up camp at the Yellowood Forest Campsite for 2 nights. This campsite was lush and green, with some really friendly staff and animals. We were the only people there, but the campsites were really nicely spaced out with room for lots of happy campers. We went walking around to check out the 'town' which was really small and hard to find ha ha, but the beach and the views from the surrounding cliffs etc was really stunning. We walked north up the beach to an old lighthouse and an abandoned hotel wreck, and found some stranded baby octopus on the way! Very cool. We can definitely recommend the campsite- a little piece of green paradise with GREAT showers. x

 yellow slug!

local supermarket and post office

 back at the campsite


15-17 April

We spent 2 gorgeous days and nights at Buccaneer's Backpackers. We had our own double room, en suite, with a great little separate kitchen (very well equipped and clean) and a beautiful view from our veranda. We watched some epic sunrises and went for a canoe up the river that runs alongside Bucc's.. Venus (adventure dog) even came with us for the paddle! We spent a night up at the bar/lounge (a bit like Rafikis, CT friends) playing pool and drumming- getting to know some locals and backpackers staff- while sipping on some delicious locally brewed Emerald Vale Cintsa Golden Ale. This was our second visit to Bucc's, and it was even better than the first.. so it's definitely reccommended for all those passing through! We'll be back someday for sure. x

our room
 the verandah

 supper time!

the view looking up at Buccaneer's.. 
the light isn't great and you can't see too much because of their awesome jungly vibe but this is it!


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