East Coast Adventure with Eben and Minette

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Our adventure start in St Lucia. Minette and I take a flight to Durban. We have a quick lunch with Oscar, Trudie and their beautiful kids at Gateway mall.  We buy a last few essentials and then set off.

ST LUCIA
That night we arrive late at St Lucia and book in. Exhausted from work and travelling we go to sleep.

Its my first time here. An amazing world-famous site on the edge of the vast St Lucia wetland.

The next day we allocate to “resting and un-winding.  We plan an active break! 🙂

We  drive to the Hluluwe/ Umfolozi game reserve. We see elephants, rhino’s, three kinds of buck, zebras, warthogs, zebra and giraffes.

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The next morning our adventure begins! Kayaking with crocks and hippos.

We almost immediately spot hippos.  They have young and we keep a safe distance.

Our guide, Siyabonga, is a bright young man from Khosi Bay.  He dreams of one day working as a game warden in the Kruger National Park.  Minette and I invite him to Cape Town.  He has never been.  We promise to show him the most amazing hikes in earth! 

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On our way back to our hotel, we spot a monkey in the road that was hit by a car.  Minette is distraught.  Other monkeys band around their injured friend.

At the hotel, the reception lady helps us to phone a local, David, who takes care of injured animals.

The hotel staff are amazing!  The service manager comes to see if Minette is OK.  The manager promptly organises us breakfast despite the fact that the kitchen has long closed for breakfast.

Then, half way through breakfast, who shows us ? David!! With news that the little female monkey is ok and is currently trying to get back in the trees to her baby!

He takes us outside to the hotel garden where he shows us where they spotted hippo’s the previous night. He tells us how an old bull comes out to graze in the daytime when its safe for him from the young bulls who will hurt him at night.

He shows us the tree in the garden where he successfully located a 3m python.  Tells us is a baby leopard that was inside a friends house and shows us photos.

The hotel change into a home!

ST LUCIA HIKE
That afternoon a local guide associated with Extreme Adventures, another David, drives us to Cape Vidal. He directs us to Bat Cave.  From there we will hike back, the approximately 25km to St Lucia.  He drives our car back to St Lucia where we will pick it up after the hike.

It is am amazing hike!!  We complete it in a respectable 3 and a half hours.

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Leaving St Lucia, we headed for Kosi Bay. 

KOSI BAY
Its an unplanned trip.  We still have no place to sleep.  Get the number for Ken Whitfield at the Kosi Bay reserves gate. He can help us with accommodation close to the river mouth. Ken and Enoch run a camp site for the local tribe, the Thembe people.  It turned out to be an amazing evening.

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Before we set off for Mozambique, we hikes 30 minutes down to the mouth of the Khosi river where it runs into the sea.  It was worth it! It defines the term “unspoiled” and Minette and I both wished we had a week to explore this eden!  We will definitely be back! The wild and unspoiled nature even trumps St Lucia!

PONTA – SOUTHERN MOZAMBIQUE
We set off to the border were we are picked up by a Portuguese speaking gentleman who brought us to our final destination –  Baleia Vista, in Ponta da Oure in his 4 x 4.  

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Anything else have absolutely no chance navigating the sandy roads of Southern Mozambique. It is only my second time in Mozambique and the first trip to Southern Mozambique.  Minette has been here a few yeas before at a music festival.

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We explore Pointe d Ouro and head back to our camp at Belei Vista.  We must hike around point which can only be done during low tide.  

When we get there the tide is high.  We wait for a break in the waves and then try and walk past quickly.  Just when we start around, a well build Mozambican comes past from the opposite direction.  He glances at me and in a low, deep, ominous voice he says:  “RUN!”  So we run as if our lives depend on it, making it just in time before the next big wave crashes against the razor sharp rocks.

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The one “must do” hike – From Ponta d Ouro through Malongane, to Ponto Mamoli.  Approximately 20km of amazing, unspoiled beach!

Before we start, we climb to the local lighthouse.   The hike ends in a luxury resort in Ponte Mamoli, the White Pearl Resort.

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We are tired. Minettes feet are covered with blisters and he one knee started acting up.  We can hardly walk and fall into luxurious seats in an upmarket beach bar. order two $8 “sex on the beach drinks” and wait for our lift back.

Here we meet an old Zimbabwean farmer who lost everything in Zimbabwe.  Living at a lake near by in a traditional house of reeds, covered with mud.  Trying to provide for his wife when he will soon not be around any longer.

I listen with a fair amount of skepticism to his plans to grow moringa. I hope his plan works and that I missed a crucial aspect of his business model.

We drive home with our local “outsourced transport”. 

Sandra owns more than one 4 x 4. The kind required to navigate this sand land.  She and her husband, DJ Oros have a small bar. Her parents sent her to school in Durban during the war and she speaks perfect English.  

Minette and I quickly calculate that they make a good income.  I wish our Zimbabwean farmer friend rather invested his time in a venture like Sandra and her husband.
Minus the bar and dj part of course.

At night ghost’s and ancient spirits tell stories. Of the Thembe people who has lived in peace with king Shaka of the Zulus and who are now capitalising on developments in the region.  

Of John Ross’s legendary trek as a young boy of about 12 from Durban, through these parts to Maputu to help a small settler community.

Minette express a regret about the development which spoils the natural beauty. I point out the obvious benefits to the poor local people, but I realise she is also right.

Stories are told of the cold war that ravaged a country and while superpowers plaid games with each other by fueling regional conflicts. When the war was over they left and Mozambicans are left to struggle with the aftermath of war. 

As I listen to the stories I wonder if young Americans and Russians now just pull up their shoulders and say: “it was not us!”, pointing to previous generations for the Cold War.  There should be a way to force them to pay for reconstructing a region where they fueled war! Or better, they should stay out of other peoples affairs!

At the bar, a bright 28 year old Mozambican, tells us about his dreams and vision for the future. His love for nature and the animals. He dreams of finishing school and becoming a detective.

I realise that he will probably never do this as the years march on and he fights to make a living and he grows comfortable in his current life.

Still, he is bright.  A pillar to his current employer and is the hope of his land. As these bright young people become tomorrows leaders, things will change. It may be to late then to save much of the unspoiled beaches and forests, but not all will be lost.

I sit alone in the beach, trying to digest the mornings swim with a pod of dolphins. I’m glad we did it with Angie who started a conservation project for them.  Who has left Johannesburg many years ago and dedicated much of her adult life to the protection of these amazing animals.

Minette and I were late. Again we tried to cross the point between our camp and town during high tide. This time we scrambled over the rocks, Minette cutting her one wrist badly. But we made it, 10 minutes into Angie’s briefing. 

At first we saw them, far below us. Swimming on their backs and looking up at us while chattering away as they surveyed us through their chirp and click sound-sonars.

Then, suddenly they darted up towards us. A few swam so close to us, we could touch them. Then in circles around us.

Just as suddenly as they came to us, they were gone, leaving both Minette and i with . . . .  no!  One cant describe this special feeling! It was the highlight of this amazing trip and one we would treasure forever. One we promptly signed up to do  again the next day. 🙂

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I took many photos of the waves. As if I have never seen waves. They are unspoiled and dramatic. As waves every where. 

These, in this setting, seem different.  Magical! As if time stood still for decades.  The ugliness of civilization rushes in to fill some kind of an evil vacuum and in the end, the only unspoiled element left will be these waves. So I want to capture them while they still rush and beat against an unspoiled land.

I sit in the shade of our tent. A troop of   monkeys pass by in the threes overhead.   Birds sing and socialise.  The entire forest is alive. In the distance, the roaring of waves.

Our footprints, left after our many hikes, will be gone. Blown away by wind or washed away by the tides of the great Indian ocean.

What will remain along the Eastern coast of Southern Africa are the stories. Of John Ross, Shaka Zulu, Malongane and the transformation of a land. Of DJ Oros, Sanrda and their bar. The wetlands and estuaries.  

Hopefully there will also be many dolphins due in large to the efforts of Angie and people like her and the folks of  Isimangaliso and the Natal parks board.  And of course there will be the waves. The unspoiled waves.

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