We didn't sleep that well last night.
Yesterday we were bullied on the road by cows, shit-bombed by cuckoo weavers, burgled by vervet monkeys and ticked off by... well, ticks.
Neda really enjoys camping, but yesterday's experiences with hostile wildlife seems to have scarred her pretty deeply! :D More the ticks than anything. This morning, she's on the phone to make reservations for an ocean-side resort at the next place we're stopping. No joke!
Today's ride better go off without any major hassles or setbacks.
All packed up and happy to leave camp
The plan for today is very much like the plan for the last few days, traverse the network of gravel roads of the Transkei back inland, and do a hop-scotch to our next ocean-side accommodation. Should not be that difficult.
More gravel roads, more slow-going
We cross several low-bridges, as rivers make their way down to the Indian Ocean
Proof that I was here. And that I also ride a motorcycle...
We're far from any major roads and traveling between cities, so only small villages dot the lush countryside
Rondavels by the side of the road still put a smile on my face
We are heading north, roughly. Each night before we travel, I spend some time mapping out our route on the GPS. Because I don't know the actual conditions of the road, I can only make educated guesses based on what they look like on my mapping program.
We've not had too many surprises.
The gravel road we are traveling forks yet again with no signs indicating which way each road takes. Based on the route I plotted, we take the northern fork. A few kms later, the road gets narrower and the gravel disappears until we are riding on a dirt track.
We're now passing by people's back yards. A woman hanging up her laundry looks at us with a puzzled expression on her face like we're lost.
This is because we are:
The road crumbles and goes down a steep hill. We dismount and check it out. Neda looks at me dubiously, "I'm not riding down that road"
I don't really want to backtrack, so I walk down the disintegrating dirt road. It's a very sharp incline. It might be okay to pick a narrow line between the twin crevasses and feather the brakes on the way down, but it would be challenging to ride back up again.
At the bottom of the hill, the road disappears beneath a raging river, about 50m across. This was not on the GPS! No idea how deep it is, but definitely higher than hip-level.
I think we're pretty adventurous. But we are not *that* adventurous... And besides if we make it across the waters, what lies on the other side? We need to ensure that we can back out of any trouble we get ourselves into.
Damn GPS is trying to kill us.
I know it's not really the GPS' fault, but the maps we installed on them. They're *too* detailed. They show every highway, secondary road, gravel and dirt track, with little distinction between the latter types.
I hike back up the hill and shake my head to Neda. Not this way. She is visibly relieved.
Back on the homicidal GPS, I cancel the route and zoom the map out to get a better idea of where we are. The main N2 highway is just a few kms directly west of us, so we abandon our northwards trek and decide to wing it by eyeballing the map.
The route we take is a dirt foot path. On the GPS, this looks like a legit road. We are hopelessly lost
We're just wandering around, keeping one eye on the foot path and another on the GPS, trying to get back to a gravel road
Decisions, decisions. Keep heading straight (west) to the highway, or follow the footpath and turn right (north)
I guess we should follow the dirt path, see where it takes us. We crest the hill and dirt mercifully becomes gravel once again, and the road widens out - as do our smiles.
What a huge feeling of relief! I've never felt so lost even with a GPS "guiding" me. It was such an unsettling feeling - that even if you know *where* you are, you still have no idea of *what* lies between you and where you need to go.
We travel gravel until we reach the N2 highway. And even though the "tarmac" is really just sketchy and broken asphalt, we don't mind at all. At least there are large buildings and shops and stores every few kms. It feels like a real road.
Rather than trust our GPSes, we head to our final destination using the directions that we've downloaded from their website.
The directions are more like a treasure-island-style map, there's even an "X marks the spot"
This is their first waypoint. We turn off the N2 at the store after replenishing our water and snack supplies
Turns out the web directions are a lot more reliable than our GPS, which we've lost all faith in. It's another 40kms of the familiar gravel roads we've been doing the last few days and we reach our destination:
Descending into the beautiful shores of Coffee Bay. Based on my cousin's recommendations, we're staying at a place called the White Clay Resort
Huge smile of relief once we've reached our destination
These are our neighbours
View of Coffee Bay looking to the north
And the view to the south. Yes, that is a cow just walking along the beach. They all do that here...
We're hungry for some lunch, so we venture into the resort's restaurant. Outside, we see the catch of the day. I'm sold!
I order the fish we just saw and we enjoy the view of Coffee Bay
Those cows that bullied us yesterday followed us all the way to Coffee Bay. Good thing we have a guard dog on the premises to keep them out
These are the resorts accommodations
You can tell they were built for tourists because they're smartly painted but also, they have a window. None of the traditional rondavels we saw on the road had windows.
I wish we would have known that the resort had rondavels you can stay in, we would have totally booked one.
Instead, we booked a self-catered apartment. After last night, we're taking a little break from camping... :D
Not bad inside. The guard dog comes to pay us a visit and look for his payment in food
The next day, someone knocked on our door. A diver in a wetsuit, still dripping seawater, was selling fresh crayfish that he had just caught. There were four of them wriggling around in his catch bag.
Price: $6 for two. I was dumbstruck. I remember the crayfish on the menu at that seafood restaurant in Knysna. It was $30 for just one!
We snapped up the crayfish from the diver no questions asked. Tonight, we eat like kings!
The crayfish say no to pot and stage a Prison Break! Neda tries to corral the escapees back in before the guard dog catches them!
Sometimes they act so shellfish.
Mmmm, delicious! I cannot believe we're eating so well.
Later on at the bar, we run into some other South African travelers
They arrived in a couple of cool-looking Land Rover Defenders, and we had a great chat about our travels over drinks.
Overlanding is quite a popular activity in South Africa. Crossing the country and continent by 4x4 is akin to North Americans traveling by RV. It's just that the road conditions in Africa dictate that you do it in something a bit more rugged and off-road-capable.
Our new friends are very passionate about their "Landies". The talk eventually turned to the debate over Land Rover Defenders vs Toyota Land Cruisers. Actually, it was more about them good-naturedly slagging the Toyotas. It reminded me of the ribbing between BMW and KTM riders. The Toyotas may be more reliable, but the Landies have more soul and style, and their off-road prowess is legendary.
I guess our BMWs are more like the Toyotas in that regard... :)