Raging rivers, empty beaches, an amazing kloof — the best of Africa, only three hours away

2013-12-27 00:00

WHAT do you do when two young ladies ask you to take them on an adventure in Africa? You ask them for R20 000 each and it’s on.

And if they don’t have that sort of money, you resort to plan B — a budget walk on the Wild Coast.

The plan would be to park at the Wild Coast Casino and walk to the Mkhambati Nature Reserve via Mnyameni and Umtentu.

A four-day expedition with a few challenges thrown in. We threw a team of eight together, including three sons, and set off on December 14.

We left our car at the Wild Coast Sun and hit the beach. Mkhambati here we come.

The journey went well until we hit the first raging river — in full flood with the tide pushing in. The fun had begun, how to cross? We could swim, the backpacks not. We had lilos to float our packs, but the waves were too big. I swam into the middle to test the waters, but the current was too strong. Was it time to head home, the safer option? I sent Speedy off to find a different route, he came back with a boat and paddler. The journey would continue.

Our boat man took us all across for R50, in his rickety two-person Indian-style canoe.

We hit the beach with Mnyameni our next stop. Three hours later we rounded the corner and found the raging Mnyameni River. Our next challenge. Swimming was not an option. Once again Speedy found the one and only boat. Our saving grace. Three at a time we went. We were on our way.

After crossing, we found a beach cottage with a small awning. We set up camp, ate two-minute noodles, watched the sunset and slept with the sound of the crashing waves.

At 5 am we set out for Umtentu. The beaches were long and deserted; just what we had come for.

At 9 am we arrived. The sun was hot and we sipped our first ice-cold Coke at the beautiful Umtentu River Lodge.

We recovered for the day in preparation for a paddle up the Umtentu River with a kloofing section up to the Swallow Tail Falls.

We woke early and hit the river. The paddle was epic with incredible indigenous bush on either side. The bush was alive with birds and I am sure many green and black mambas. We took our boats out and stored them in the shade of the trees, and set out on a two-hour mind-blowing kloofing section up a tributary of the Umtentu. All I can say is that I have never walked up a river more beautiful. We reached the falls and were blown away by the dramatic beauty of the 100-metre hidden falls. We had reached the furthermost part of our adventure. The falls cascaded from the Mkhambati Nature Reserve.

We spent our last night at the beautiful community lodge. Our host, Bridgette, once again fed the masses.

To end the journey and get the real African experience, I hired a taxi that would take us back to the casino. After 200 mm of rain, the ride turned out to be an experience on its own. Our two-wheel drive taxi got stuck after 100 metres, and push we did. We lapped up the last part of our journey — a four-hour taxi ride in the worst conditions possible: just what we ordered!

Who needs to travel to remote parts of Africa, spending a small fortune, when one of the greatest adventures you can have is a mere three hours’ drive away?

A hike, run, paddle, kloof, swim and taxi. Thank you Kyrah, Kirsten, Jeff, Chad, Speedy, Stevie and Cade for an adventure on the wild side.

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