Journey to the Wild Coast

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
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Trip End Jul 21, 2010


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Where I stayed
Leisure Bay Park

Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Thursday, January 28, 2010

After leaving the Drakensberg we headed to Durban; a fun drive because it was completely downhill which makes sense, since we are going from the mountains to sea level. Durban was a shock to us - a total different climate and atmosphere.  We were used to the warm days, cool nights of the mountains and Durban is a very humid beach town.  For the past week we haven't been around too many people but when we arrived to the beach we were greeted to a throng of hundreds!  Traffic was insane on the beach strip and everyone was outside flirting, playing their music loud, and drinking something cold.  Definitely a more city-urban feel combined with a LA surf scene – lots of people walking around with their boards.  Durban has a large population of Indians – who came here in the late 19th century to work on the railroads - which gives it even more of a multi-cultural vibe.

The beaches that we hung at in Durban are amazing – there is so much sand and we did find one beach with not a lot of people.  The sun is incredibly intense though - so you can only last out there for a couple of hours without feeling like you're being scorched.  The only issue with Durban is that there aren't a lot of campervan sites so we decided to move on down to the "Wild Coast" only to run into a massive rainstorm. But sometimes bad weather can be lucky.  We pulled off at the first campervan site we saw a sign for – Leisure Bay.  We were the only guests and our hosts – George and Kathy were extremely nice.  We had some great discussions with them; they invited us in their home and they shared their story on how they became campervan site owners.  They also gave us some ideas of local food to eat: like broerwurst and kooksisters and some local slang which is always cool.  For example, “lekka” means nice, good and “awk shame” that's a pity.

After talking over coffee and rusks (another South African creation, basically small biscuits that you dip in your coffee or tea) the weather finally cleared and we headed off to Coffee Bay.  The Xhosa are the primary ethnic group that live in and around the Wild Coast.  They paint their thatched roof homes bright colors which stand in contrast to the surrounding green hills.  Some people call this area the Transkei – which was the name of the apartheid-era homeland that once covered part of the area.  The Eastern Cape is the poorest region in South Africa and we could tell by the condition of the roads.  Definitely the worst roads we have driven on.  You have to constantly dodge pot holes and when you hit one – you are afraid that something is going to fall off the car.  Signposts are few and far between so you have to kind of gauge where you are - and you have to constantly watch out for people and animals in the road.  All of this makes for an interesting drive.  But Coffee Bay was worth it – a small beach with a dramatic setting of towering cliffs.  We chilled by the Indian Ocean watching kids who had just got off school – jumping and swimming in the water.  Not a bad after-school spot to chill!  Sitting there we realized that if you ever wanted to hide away from the world this would be the spot to go – and judging by the number of hippies that we have also seen here at the various backpacker spots, we think a lot of people have done just that.  It's a hard location to get to – little infrastructure: there are no street names, addresses etc. so it would be easy to just make your thatched roof hut and live very simply.  Although beautiful, for us it was a day spot – and so we left and drove 8 more hours to where we are chilling now: Port Elizabeth, right on the Indian Ocean.  The wind is a bit strong but it's been a nice day walking along the sand dunes.
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