Africa trips

Cape Town to Transkei Dec 07 Jan 08 - A Stam

Overlanding Trips

Back on the R61 and across the mighty Mzimvubu river, this is an especially scenic 40km to Lusikisiki, enhanced by the good tar road (I could glance out the window, instead of dodging potholes). From Lusikisiki the road turns to gravel and worsens progressively with the 40km approach to Mkhambathi, although it’s nothing a rental car could not handle. Mkhambathi is a peaceful nature reserve that offers nice shaded camp-sites in 2 Milkwood forests, close to a beautiful beach and bay, but offers little or nothing in the way of facilities. Part of the appeal of this place is the sense of remoteness but be warned that over Dec/Jan this is a popular destination. The whine of quad and enduro bikes competes with the distant hum of multiple generators that somewhat detracts from pretending to be in the middle of nowhere.

From Mkhambathi (where all permits for the following nights were hastily arranged) we headed back on the gravel to Luphatana via a detour to Port Grosvenor. Although the name ‘Port Grosvenor ‘conjures images of an old colonial town and harbour, there is very little port to speak of, and nothing more than a grass landing strip and scattering of (soon to be illegal?) holiday cottages at the end of the track. The drive however is highly enjoyable with some optional challenging sections nearer the coast.

The road leading to Port Grosvenor

Transkei Road Signs - en route to Luphatana

From Port Grosvenor we headed back to the Lusikisiki-Mkhambathi road and travelled a further 12km (towards Lusikisiki) before heading off to Luphatana. Here even the GPS was lost, and our trusty atlas showed no sign of the road we were on. Oh joy! Some 18km later, and the necessary use of 4L twice(!) we reached our penultimate destination, Luphatana. This little bay, with no more than 3 or 4 holiday cottages, would be quite unremarkable were it not for the stretch of sandstone rock that rises out of the sea and forms a spectacular shelf for 100s of meters along the coast. The resulting spray from the waves crashing just below the top of the shelf provides an exciting way to get wet, and the fishing opportunities are not bad either. Much to our delight, the camp-site in the nearby dune forest was totally deserted (unheard of on Dec 29th!) and proved a great counter to the drone of two-stroke the day before.


Milkwood Campsite at sunrise

As the area surrounding Luphatana formed part of a military zone in the old Transkei Homeland, there are almost no villages or people around and the vast landscape is truly breathtaking. After taking our fill of real quiet and stargazing for 2 nights, we packed our bags with the bare essentials and headed for our final destination, Waterfall Bluff. Reluctantly leaving the Lux at a nearby cottage, this was to be the hiking section of our trip. After much preparation of backpacks, water bottles etc our hike turned out to be a 1 hr walk to the awe inspiring Waterfall Bluff, where the waterfall tumbles from the cliffs into the roaring ocean .With the waves crashing at your feet, this is not a run-of-the-mill shower!

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