The genesis of this trip began 5 years ago on an 8 day hike between
Port Edward and Port St John’s. At each nights stop I would
wearily lay my pack down, take off my boots, open my can of tuna
and dream about driving to all these amazing places, in the air-conditioned
comfort of a SFA Hilux, with friends, braai-meat, beers, surfboards
and everything else required for comfort and safety in tow. What
follows is my account of the realisation of those dreams.
We made no camping/accommodation bookings for this trip, had no
fixed dates and did little planning beyond where we should try
and be for Christmas and New years. Budget went mainly to purchase
of recovery gear (just in case) and fuel.
Stage 1 – Cape Town to Coffee Bay via Kenton-on-Sea
and East London.
We completed this first stage of the trip in about 10 hours and
stuck on the N2 until just after PE where we joined the R72 coastal
road to Port Alfred. The R72 is very scenic and makes a nice alternative
to the N2, avoiding the traffic that develops around Peddie and
As we only needed to be in East London the following afternoon
(to collect participant no 4 from the airport) we decided to stop
in the picturesque town of Kenton-on-Sea. A typical, E Cape coastal
town, Kenton proved to be a comfortable stop over. As the town
does not have a dedicated camping ground, the local primary school
fills this role during the festive season, with clean facilities,
power sockets and braai barrels at each camp site.
Due to an airline delay in EL the following day, we were not
able to travel as far as planned and landed up camping in the
town of Chintsa (east) some 50kms North out of EL. Camping at
the Arendsnes was very full, with families kitted out for the
duration of their summer vacation. However, despite the busy time
of year, the owners were able to accommodate our small hiking
tents and the close proximity to other campers allowed us to chat
and get advice for the remainder of our trip.
Leaving Chintsa early the next day we headed to Kei River Mouth.
Here we had planned to cross the river by pontoon and to follow
dirt tracks up to Coffee Bay, but after speaking to some locals
about road and tide conditions (and our lack of another vehicle
in case of recovery!), we opted to head back to the N2 and approach
Coffee Bay the ‘easy way’.
The ‘easy way’ refers to the 85kms of tarmac leading
from the N2 (about 20kms before Mthatha) to Coffee Bay. This road
looks like it has been the victim of a sustained bombing campaign
and for most of the 85kms there is more pothole than tarmac. Add
to this; steep gradients, sharp bends, E Cape taxi drivers, goats,
cows, pigs, horses, dogs, donkeys and pedestrians -all at the
same time, in the rain- and you will begin to have an idea of
the driving conditions. However the destination makes up for the
journey and Coffee Bay did not disappoint us, despite rainy weather
for the duration of our 3 days there.
Bomvu Beach, Coffee Bay