Through the Wild Coast from Coffee Bay to Colchester

Last Thursday we conquered the five and a half hour drive from Lesotho to Coffee Bay. The route took us through some of the most rural parts of the country and we were constantly on the lookout for the cows, goats and sheep who love to randomly cross the roads. We passed through the odd town but mostly saw rural settlements and communities. We decided to visit Coffee Bay because it is known for its surfing and Xhosa culture. The drive was mostly mountainous with a good deal of fog until we were about an hour or so from the coast. The views were spectacular. 

The beautiful Coffee Bay... 

The beautiful Coffee Bay... 

We arrived at our hostel at around 5pm and were absolutely delighted to learn that they had a resident golden retriever named Rusty. The hostel itself was worth the drive. It was split into two sites - our hut being across the river. Yep, we actually had to casually cross a river to get to the main building and bar area. The back garden of the hostel had numerous levels to it, including a camp site. 

The next day we went to the beach and took a surf lesson from a guy named Gabriel. Rusty came with us. For 60 rand (approx. $5-6) we got a two hour surf lesson (including board and wetsuit rental) AND two cheese and tomato toasties made via campfire on a hill. Absolutely stellar. This is me eating a toastie and trying not to expose myself to the sun. 

Ben killed it with the surfing - I only lasted for about an hour before I smashed my knee on a rock and swallowed a bunch of salt water. I managed to get up for a full 3 seconds before this though. Ben stayed out for another hour after the lesson finished with a couple of guys from the hostel. While he was surfing I saw a whale in the ocean and a group of dolphins by the shore. It was pretty amazing. After Ben finished up in the water we walked around the beach for a little while before heading back to the hostel for dinner. 

We could have easily spent 3-4 days in Coffee Bay. It was absolutely worth the drive but there were a couple of hikes that we didn’t have time for that we wish we had. I'd like to think I'll be able to make it back to this small corner of the universe, but who knows. 

Ironically, the day we left Coffee Bay we couldn’t find any coffee. This was a problem because we left at 7am and figured we’d find breakfast on the road, momentarily forgetting that we were in the middle of nowhere. A couple of hours went by without passing anything before we stopped at a gas station to refuel. The first gas station didn’t have any food other than a couple of bags of chips and red bull (I wasn’t desperate enough at this time to settle for that fine combination). The second gas station had a small food counter AND a coffee menu but sadly no water so no coffee. We persevered and eventually came across a grocery store - their food counter didn’t have coffee (devastatingly) and when we tried to order a pastry from them the girl behind the counter couldn’t find the price code and therefore would not sell us the pastry. Utterly defeated, I bought a yogurt and ate it in the parking lot, willing it to turn into a coffee bean. 

Two hours later we reached a place called King Williams Town and THEY HAD A MCDONALDS. We were so excited for coffee that it was embarrassing. So excited, in fact, that we forgot to refuel. About 45km out from our final destination of the day we realized that the gas light was on and the tank nearly empty. I was nearly finished mentally preparing for running out of gas and what that would entail when we arrived in Colchester.

Our accommodation for the night: 

Yes! The houseboat! It was absolutely brilliant. Her name was Maggie May. Happy hour started as soon as we’d checked in and we spent the rest of the day on the top deck soaking up the views of the Sundays River. All was well and good until we noticed water spraying from the wall in the bathroom. A few comical texts to the Airbnb host had him on the boat to inform us that the water pump must be leaking. We learned that all this meant was that we needed to shut off the water and thus couldn’t shower or anything. All good with us because we had wine and brushing your teeth on the dock with a bottle of water is good fun.

Speaking of wine - we’ve discovered a new thing that we both really enjoy called Pinot Noir Chardonnay. It’s lighter and drier than a rosé. Ben wanted me to add that in. 

After not sinking overnight we woke up and went sand boarding on the dunes down the river. This was a blast. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a snowboard but it all came back pretty quickly. The views from the top of the dunes were incredible - the Sundays River meets the Indian Ocean just past where we were boarding. We pretty much had the dunes to ourselves, too.

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At the time of writing, I am covered in sand, wearing the same clothing from three days ago, and cannot remember the last time we showered. We also haven’t had any WiFi, hence the lack of updates. We’re currently en route to a town called Knysna on the coast halfway to next destination on our list, which is Still Bay. Originally we were going to spend six hours in the car today and just get to Still Bay, but decided at the last minute to break up the drive and spend the afternoon with elephants instead. We now only have one more long haul ahead of us from Still Bay to Franschhoek, but it’s supposed to be beautiful...