A Walk on The Wild Side

Here’s some Kodak moments, all captured during a short break to the Transkei Wild Coast.

 

This first waterfall was on the road into Mtentu, where we were greeted by a blustery SW wind, with drizzle and a sharply declining mood, fearing that we might have several days of this. Our cabin was the last in the row and nearest the beach – the Honeymoon Suite I guess.    

 

 

To be off grid for a week was sheer bliss and what a superb place The Wild Coast is. For one to move from say the northern bank of one river to the southern bank of another might be 25kms walking on the beach, but its a 100km and 2hr trip inland and then back down to the coast by road. This inaccessibility coupled to absent infrastructure means zero people and as a result it is truly wild, as the name denotes.

 

Down to the Mtentu River we go ……….. and across and then this last pic shows the ‘road’ home to Mtentu Lodge.

 

 

By chance on our first afternoon we were introduced to the inimitable Ivan Hilliar, a legendary character of some repute amongst local folks. An ex Durban resident who elected to exclude himself from the ratrace, moving off the grid and to reside in the midst of the Transkei coastal locals. Expecting some eccentric recluse, Ivan surprised us with his most congenial, warm and welcoming nature. We soon struck a chord and with Ivan’s ever ready hearty laugh in hand, he voluntarily led us on these two delightful and memorable hikes. Most notable here is that Ivan walked both hikes barefoot!        

 

 

A walk on the wild side is amazing, with not even a middel mannetjie track to be seen, only a foot/game path and thanks to the absence of mankind, there is not one piece of litter to be seen, which is unbelievably refreshing. Several K’s from Mtentu is the Nkambati Falls, dropping directly into a bay of the ocean and these “several K’s” really do just melt away, unnoticed in one’s distracted delight of the amazing settings.   

 

 

The Transkei even has a floral diversity of it’s own and to think that some ‘purely for profit’ foreign mining operator wants to turn this Garden of Eden upside down is unthinkable. As one Facebook friend put it “for food and keep alone, I will become a mercenary, fighting the mining to keep this pearl in it’s oyster”.

 

 

A mere 300m up the river from the Nkambati Falls is the Strandlooper Falls and I believe that there’s not a landscape gardener in the world who could come even close to the natural beauty of this Gem. There’s a HIGH jump from these cliff caves, down into the water but I can’t report on that as I am a bangbroek for heights and I wouldn’t even go near the edge. I did however sit in the cave, allowing my mind to wander eons back, to when these caves were once inhabited and this paradise was home to the San Bushmen. My apologies to Julius Malema for my assertion that it was not his very own forefathers who were here first.

 

 

The hike which eventually totalled 18kms had it’s high point (literally and figuratively) in a trek inland through open grassland to the stunning Horseshoe Falls. The accessible vantage points and the lens I was carrying simply did not allow for any satisfactory depiction of this whole horseshoe. So lucky for you, you’ll just have to go there yourself and see this breath-taking geological beaut for yourself. There sits Lorelle in the midst of the cascading water, whilst I kept my distance, scared to get too near and under the pretence of doing some photography.     

 

 

The next day we set off on the somewhat daunting canoeing/kloofing/hiking excursion to the rarely visited Swallows Tail Falls. Starting with a 3.5km canoe up the gorge and despite giving our paddling shoulders and arms a proper scare, it was much like the previous day, where the K’s went by unnoticed, due to the veritable Smorga’s Board of visual treats.

 

 

The canoes were pulled up high into the rocks, in anticipation of the incoming tide and then the kloofing began. There is no pathway and no known route, one navigates as you read the layout of the rock and watercourse, picking your way by whatever route looks ‘do-able’.

 

A different flora exists in this indigenous jungle and whilst it is so easy to get wrapped up in the challenge of the rock scrambles, there is great gratification to be had in stopping to savour the special and smaller features. It’s a series of waterfall upon waterfall and with each seemingly prettier than the previous.

 

 

Wherever you look there’s another divinely and perfectly composed Zen garden, none of which could be recreated.

 

 

If each waterfall was an orchestral score, each Zen garden a set and each plant an instrument, then the crescendo rises to a grand finale in the Swallows Tail Falls. The jungle canopy suddenly opens up revealing the most awesome overhung cliffs and a broad cascading waterfall, making anything you have seen before seem insignificant. What geological fault might have been at play I will never know, but from a top plateau and without any apparent valley or start, this falls has carved an incredibly deep cavern. I can’t rightly say, but I’ll guess that the falls are some 500’ to 600’ high, but with only a narrow 200’ opening at the top, leaving you feeling like you’re in a roofless cathedral of incredible height.

 

 

 

Giving some scale to the enormity of the cavern are the people in these first two pics, see if you can spot them. In the last pic is Lorelle and the Invincible Ivan, barefoot as always and its quite OK to just sit, with no need to speak and to just soak up the awesomeness of this natural phenomenon. One would be forgiven for your imagination drifting off and expecting at any moment that Harrison Ford might step out from behind a bush, whip in hand and ask if you are enjoying being on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

 

If you are ever at a loss of where your next excursion should go, then I encourage you to experience a walk on the wild side, taking in a visit to one of the last great unspoiled places which remains within our reach.

Here’s all the pics from this memorable experience on the Wild Coast………….   http://www.airserv.co.za/work-in-progress/nggallery/wip/Mtentu 

 

    Cheers for Now

    Steve