I engaged in one of my other passions this past week: hiking. We are spoilt for choice here in South Africa with thousands of trails available: from one day to multiple day trails.
I did the Strandloper Hiking Trail along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It is a four day trail starting at Kei River Mouth and ending at Gonubie near East London. Our party of 12 ( the maximum number allowed per group) slept at the Eco Centre the night before the first days walk. The center is spacious with a large patio and braai facilities. We were lucky in that two of our team members, Ahmed and Jerome made us a delicious meal of Roti and Curry for dinner! After such a hearty meal, the party went on well into the night!
The next day we were up early to enjoy a hot shower, eggs for breakfast and off we went ready to begin our first day of hiking along the beautiful coast! The first day is from Kei Mouth to Double Mouth (13.5 kms) . We stopped over in Morgan’s Bay for a pub lunch at Trennery’s Restaurant on the beach. From there it was a slow stroll along the beach to the first night at the Double Mouth Hut. This is by far the best accommodation of the whole trail with the hut being right on the beach! We enjoyed a lovely braai under the stars that evening! The ablution blocks are at the adjacent camping site but I preferred a cold wash in the open that night using the provided bucket! Heaven!
Day two is the shortest day: only 9kms. Overnight accommodation is at Haga Haga Hotel, as the hut normally used burnt down recently. The hotel was kind enough to avail two rooms dubbed Dogbox 1and 2! We had lunch and dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Day 3 is the longest from Haga Haga to Beacon Valley (23kms). It was very windy and involved lots of walking over rocks. I did not particularly like this day! We had late lunch at a pub in Cintsa West and slept in the hut at Beacon Valley that evening. No hot water or electricity and only a drop toilet. Once Again, I enjoyed a cold wash under the stars and that evening we Had a lovely lightning storm!
The last day is 15 kms to Gonubie where the trail ended. A very friendly gentleman helped us across one of the rivers with his rubber duck. Two very helpful young men helped us with our bags across Gonubie River as the tide was in when we arrived there. We all had to swim across to the other side. Finally, a celebratory lunch was enjoyed at Gonubie Hotel overlooking the beach. This brought a delightful end to a very memorable few days with old friends!
1. You dont have to carry lunch packs as you can get food along the trail.
2. The same applies to dinner as you can buy take-aways at the restaurants.
3. No electricity at Double Mouth and Beacon Valley huts. Carry torches and candles or a gas light.
4. No pots at huts. Carry own if you intend cooking food. The huts do have large kettle and wood is provided. A small gas stove is also useful. Don’t forget matches!
5. Try to get to river crossings between low and high tides to make crossing easier.
6. Make sure you have waterproof material to protect your valuables. I used a Sea to Summit 26L River Bag inside my hiking bag.