Next we drove down on the left hand side of what used to be the road - now an apparent rocky river bed after years of erosion - as we steeply descended in low range all the way down to the beach. Mzo took us for a short walk to see where the cliff jumping action takes place into the warm waters of the Mapuzi River.
Further along are the Mapuzi Caves, where it is said that the ANC stored arms and munitions during the armed struggle. Getting to the caves is quite difficult and better suited to younger, fitter people. On the way back up the steep hill, the VHF crackled into life: "I have a flat wheel!"
The call came from Johan Jansen, driving a 76 series Toyota Land Cruiser. We dispatched those ahead of Johan back to the Ocean View Hotel, whilst the rest of us lent a hand trying to get the wheel changed. Johan had recently fitted after market mags to his truck, but one of them had split completely around the centre of the rim, leaving it on two halves. In the process the the tyre had debeaded and lost pressure. It took us almost an hour getting the spare on and everything packed up. Fortunately he carries two spare wheels, so no further action was required.
It was our intention to include Baby Hole in the Wall, but Mzo informed us that the landowner had decided he didn't want any tourists crossing his land. This decision obviously affects tourism in general negatively and the matter has now been taken up the headman, but here in the Transkei things happen at a very slow pace and this indaba will no doubt continue for some time. In the meantime, local guides (like Mzo) take even more financial strain on top of the Covid landscape.
We regrouped with the rest of the group near the hotel and drove over to Whale Hill - a perfect spot offering enchanting views over Coffee Bay and the ocean, where a pod of dolphins were frolicking just off the surf line. Mzo gave us the background of Coffee Bay and how the bay got its name. During the 1800's a ship floundered near the bay carrying a cargo of coffee beans, many of which were washed ashore and took root.
The trees did well in the amenable climate and at one stage coffee was produced commercially. There is still a small coffee shop in the village that produces coffee from the original trees. Local ladies are quick to scale the grassy slopes of the hill and offer beadwork to tourists. We always try and support their crafts and a bracelet made of coffee beans makes a unique gift to take home for a friend or family member.
Hole in the Wall never disappoints. Whilst our group were on the beach in front of the famous rock, the weather deteriorated as a steady drizzle set in, cutting the excursion short. However, our lunch booking at the White Clay Restaurant lifted the vibe in double quick time as we settled in for a delightful meal of seafood and wine.
The restaurant/pub has the look and feel of a fisherman's shack. It's located at the bottom of a very steep road, but there's plenty of parking on terraced, grassy slopes (which also doubles as a camping site). The Wild Coast really creeps into your soul at this place, when the windows are wide open and the warm sea breeze reminds you to take a serious chill pill. It was a long afternoon, and justifiably so.
Eventually it was time to say farewell to the charms of White Clay and head back to our hotel for a rest and freshen up for our happy hour and evening meal.
Next Week: More punctures as we head south to The Haven
PASS OF THE WEEK
Visit the Karoo town of Cradock and drive one of the passes in the area - the Swaershoek Pass. Its a great gravel pass offering wonderful scenery.
* * S W A E R S H O E K P A S S * *
NEW PASSES ADDED THIS WEEK:
Nqutu Pass - The Nqutu Pass is named after the village at its summit point. This short, tarred pass is fairly steep with average gradient of 1:18 over a distance of 3,3 km. Being close to a busy town, you can expect pedestrians and livestock on the road, minibus taxis and other slow moving vehicles.
Tailpiece: "Health is merely the slowest way one can die" ~ Martin Fisher