An ode to the Eastern Cape

A Wild Coast Social Un-Distancing Trip (See what I did there? See?)

Infamous Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay

I cannot believe how long it has been since we caught up!!!2020 has clearly been doing a number on all of us, myself include (Insert: getting mugged whilst going for a run, losing my beach body to Covid-19, WFH with no access to a gym for months and gaining that infamous Covid-19 (just like freshman 15, but worse because you’re no longer 17 and you won’t lose it in 2 weeks)). But alas, I am happy to report things are coming up steady in the kingdom and my beach body will be achieved once more!!! Please note I did not say when this achievement will occur so if you see me out and its not there, please just pretend you didn’t see this and keep it moving.

Lovely afternoon in Kenton on Sea

Tired of Covid-19 in 2020 and finally receiving bab Cyri’s blessing to travel I finally left the house and pretended to be an actual human amongst people. I had so many people ask me about this trip with specific details on budget, accommodation and other logistics that I had to just put it up to assist you with logistics, especially if you’re planning to take it in December with your loved ones.  I will spare you the juicy details of the trip. Think…: Cops questioning my Xhosa card because of my accent, driving down a one-way street, almost killing my passengers because I refused to miss a turn and take the long way around and drive back, searching for the best gin and tonic and french toast on the Wild Coast, getting chased out of a taxi-rank restaurant in Dutywa because some of us forgot our masks, explaining to non-South Africans what a hard body chicken was and why I refuse to eat it,  trying to explain to non-Nguni language speakers why I couldn’t stop giggling when we drove through iNgquza Hill (please ask a friend because wow 😊), and sublime food and beaches (Really the best beaches I’ve seen in a while).

I hope the below high-level logistics do help you in making your decision to take the trip and make you realise how easy it is to put it together.  We literally put together a trip agenda on the day we landed in Durban (Available in ppt and PDF 😊); God I love travelling with consultants / organised people. I would highly recommend booking accommodation well in advance, but you can somewhat wing the activities like we did as long as there is a beach you are likely to always have something to do.

Views from the PSJ Lighthouse

Key Details:

  • # of days: 6
  • Locations: 4
  • Average stay: 1.5 days
  • Avg. Daily Budget: ZAR700 – ZAR900 excluding accommodation, but including transport
  • Accommodation: Various (this was over a long weekend, so it was a little more expensive than normal, but there were various options for accommodation)
    • Group apartments / houses made things a bit cheaper for us as we were a group of 4 and everything was super child friendly

Route: So, there are quite a few ways to skin a cat. Theoretically speaking there are a few ways of doing this route:

  • Driving from Joburg to Port Saint Johns à 10.5 hours
  • Flying to PE à only annoying because you basically must double up the trip or start from Kenton on Sea and Fly out of Durban
  • Flying to Durban à this is what we did, hired a car and dropped it off in PE (all car hire places offer this option and make you pay a once-off fee of around ZAR1,500). Pricing just worked out better for us and it was great to take a leisurely straight route and drop off the car in PE and fly back.

Locations Visited and Handy Tips:

  • Port St. Johns: Small town with an amazing light house, river and average-ish food.
    • Activities: Hiking, Swimming, Kayaking
    • Accommodation: We stayed at the Spotted Gunter and they had kayaks which was amazing! And G & Ts (pretty crucial). Low cost accommodation and great drinks.
    • Tip: when leaving and driving to Coffee Bay there are two routes. One of the routes is on tar with a ton of potholes and takes about 2 hours longer. We opted for the dirt road going past several villages and shaved some time off our trip. Feel free to stop at one of the bridges and jump in to cool down or have a dance party like we did. Highly recommended
  • Coffee Bay: Unbeknownst to me, probably the most popular town on our trip famous of course for its Hole in the Wall
    • Activities: walking to the aptly named, hole in the wall, lots of beach time because the beach is super shallow for about a kilometre out and walking to any of the various little villages (Zithulele etc).
    • Accommodation: we stayed at a family friendly resort called “Hole in the Wall”… just in case you were not sure what the main attraction is here. Haha. Beautiful beaches. Whale spotting, dolphin spotting and spotting the quintessential Wild Coast Cow on the Beach
    • Tip: You really do not need a guide to get to the hole as it is a 20 min walk if you stay at this accommodation (But you definitely can if you’re supporting local employment)
  • Cintsa / Chintsa and the various other spellings of it you may find.
    • Probably my favourite stop on this trip and the first one where the food blew me away
    • Activities: Beach! Brewery! Beach! Did I say beach? A couple of good restaurants.
    • Accommodation: We opted for Crawford’s lodge, but Prana Lodge was also lovely and has amazing food!
    • Tip: Prebook everything super early in Cintsa as things seem to get sold out quickly, especially over the holidays
  • Kenton-on sea: Probably way more bougie than I thought it was going to be but what a beautiful small town
    • Activities: Water activities, spa, hikes, walks on the beach
    • Accommodation: House Quarters (There are a few other places, but I highly recommend this). HQ was right next to an amazing restaurant, shop, and the spa
    • Tip: Make time to eat at the restaurant as its AMAZING. But there is also a pizza restaurant with the most impressive ocean views and questionable pizza combination choices e.g. seafood pizza, dessert pizza etc. Highly recommend for some sundowners and they offer corkage which goes a long way when the wine list is somewhat limited.

I also wish we had stopped at Port Alfred on the trip. Once I saw it, I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t even on our radar.

Hands down this may have been one of my favourite road trips which says a lot as I’ve taken a LOT of road trips. The company, the views, the diversity of activities, the relaxed pace and generally how nice everyone was! I cannot believe I had not done it sooner, which I mainly attribute to people constantly telling me how hard the logistics are to sort out when they really aren’t.  Next time someone from the Eastern Cape boasts to you about a shamrock pie please tell them to come correct and actually tell you about all the amazing  towns and villages littering their coast line; I promise you they were 20 times better than a shamrock pie.  

Sometimes only a Video will do!

The 4 reasons South Africans should travel around Africa (and the greater globe) more…

Zanzibar forever remains one of my favourites – Nungwi Beach

I cannot count the number of times I have heard South Africans tell me that they’re going to ‘Africa’ or the continent for a week. Yes, I kid you not, we are a special breed. We have Africa in our name and there are still people who think they are going to a different continent when they board a plane at OR Tambo or Cape Town International or King Shaka. And yes, all 54 of our glorious countries are extremely different, but they are still on the same continent.

1.Are you Zulu? Sawubona!

Yes, I happen to be Zulu but this happens to most South Africans when they visit the rest of Africa. So many people know about our history, culture and some languages and appreciate how far we’ve come as a nation despite us not appreciating it. Yes, this is me also feeling terrible that I learnt nothing about African history in primary or secondary school and had to wait until I took a minor  in African studies to have a better appreciation for our similarities, struggles and so many of our cultural commonalities!!!

2. Yes there are brown / black people in South Africa

This is more for the melanated South Africans reading (Yes, I just made up that word).  Due to apartheid and socioeconomic reasons most South African people of colour have not traveled the breadth of our beautiful continent. Due to this, it should come as no surprise that a lot of Africans outside of the major hubs are genuinely surprised when they meet a black South African. For some reason a lot of places off the beaten track seem to think South Africans are mainly white….No, I’m not joking….I was in Tunisia and someone looked at me strangely when I said I was South African… apparently I was the first black South African they had ever met.  So do all of us a public service and go show some of our culture and fake those clicks even if you aren’t Xhosa or Zulu. You’re doing your country a service!!!!

3. This is more for the greater world then the continent, but you will have utterly amusing stories to tell your grandkids that you could never make up.

I lived in China for a period of around 2.5 years in and out, first as a student and then as an adult. It was not the easiest because of the stark differences in culture but being fluent in mandarin did help.  Questions I was asked in that period:

  • Are you related to Obama?
  • Is Kobe your big brother?
  • Why are you at the zoo, don’t you have animals everywhere in Africa? (And still…no we only have animals in the zoo)
  • You must be grateful to Obama for ending slavery…deadass. I tell no lies…
  • How come your Chinese is so good? (I lying to get an extra dad is Chinese and my mum is South African…)…mmm I guess that makes sense… *sips on her 4th free shooter because she’s half Chinese*
  • Why are you so dark…do your people not wash as much?
  • Some offensive, some hilarious…all requiring a level of patience that my mother would be proud I now possess (apparently I used to have the temper of a thousand Xhosa / Zulu woman)

4. You will genuinely be humbled by how beautiful the continent is and how so many places are not publicized. Yes,people have been hiding destinations from you.

I don’t even know where to start …The Danakil depression (lookout for my next post)… Labadi Beach in Accra..The skeleton Coast that’s on my bucket list… or the clear ocean in Zanzibar or the Seychelles…I don’t remember ever being taught about this Africa. I have been entirely humbled by how much I didn’t know before embarking on my journeys.  When kids were going off about some of their European holidays as a kid and we could only afford to go down the coast till now when I’m older and I can afford to explore more I have not come across anything as beautiful as our continent. I am entirely filled with euphoria every single time I land on a different island or city even when I’m overwhelmed and I need to go find a normal cab (Yes, there are places where there is still no uber or taxify or littlecabs – please go find a normal cab; its 2019 and its still in fashion to speak to people and bargain for your fare).

I wont lie, I love South Africa. I don’t think I could have been luckier in hitting the birth lottery when it comes to weather, lack of natural disasters, amazing food, friendliest of people and a more resilient nation but like I said above I am giddy with excitement every single time I know I am putting another African stamp on the green Mamba! Yes, I am that south African who listens to the expat south Africans and calls her passport the green mamba! Firstly, start budgeting…there’s so much to see and so little time…join the struggle bus and go to home affairs, if you get there extremely early you’re out within an hours and are assured a new passport within a week! And yes, we are thankful that the two most efficient ministries in our country is the one that taxes you (hey SARS, I feel like I’m owed a tax rebate ) and the one that actually allows you to run away from Eskom’s load shedding once in a while!!!!