We have finally started our hike!
Day 1: Port St John’s to Mngazana
This was when we realised that we were actually super unprepared for this and might seriously suffer over the next five days and it suddenly dawned on us that maybe deciding to do this hike was a bit of a crazy idea. But surely two thumbs up would make us look confident enough and like we knew what we were doing.
However, those worries were quickly forgotten as we walked through Silaka Wildlife Reserve – with the ocean on your left and the rainforest on your right, how can you have any negative thoughts. What an incredible view…
We got to our first beach and saw the first green, rolling hills that we would soon have to conquer. What is truly amazing about this hike is that there’s not really one single path you can follow and almost no directions. And there’s countless walks along the basically empty beaches.
Around noon, we arrived in our first village called Sicambeni. As we entered the village, we saw people getting water from a pond or possibly washing their clothes in it, which is something you will see a lot in the Eastern Cape.
Lloyd brought us to a lady’s house who seemed absolutely delighted to meet us. He had to be our translator though, as our isiXhosa was barely enough to say hello and ask how she was! The lady cooked us a traditional lunch which was so, so good. We would be getting used to Xhosa food over the next few days and definitely didn’t mind at all. All the locals were worried we weren’t going to like their food as that was apparently something that happened quite a lot with tourists before – but honestly, it was delicious and nothing crazy ‘exotic’ at all.
pap, spinach, carrots and chicken (two of us are vegetarian but the other two didn’t complain because they always got our chicken! and there was more than enough vegetables and pap for everyone)
Our lunch break was fairly short but we had (literally) got a taste of what was to come and couldn’t wait to continue our hike.
view over where we were going: endless green hills with small villages everywhere and never too far away from the ocean
We attempted to go for a swim and although the water is quite warm around here, just like everywhere else in South Africa, the waves were too high and we didn’t make it too far. It was refreshing nevertheless.
At the end of the day, we had to face our first river crossing. Nothing too dramatic though: Lloyd yelled across the river until we were heard and we were then picked up in a tiny plastic boat that carried us across the river to Mngazana, the village in which we would stay that night.
I cannot even explain what we felt upon arriving at our home for the night. ‘Amazement’ or ‘excitement’ is probably the best I can do.
We stayed with a family and were warmly welcomed by another lovely lady. She introduced herself as ‘mama’ and was incredibly nice, although there was unfortunately again the language barrier.
We got a round house all to ourselves and the picture below shows the view we had (which was actually of the bathroom). After the long hike, we treated ourselves to bucket showers (there was no running water) and sat outside to play with the dogs for a bit. It was actually pure bliss.
We had another typical dinner of pap and vegetables, stretched our legs for as long as we could, and went to bed quite early again, feeling so grateful for what we were experiencing.