On Sunday night when the excitement of the upcoming Otter Trail had reached a peak in our house, I felt a bit of an anti-climax. I wasn’t going along. With my current health problems even going for a day-long hike would be difficult, and I don’t like being outdoors in the heat. But I still felt left out of all the fun.
Then Estie (Willie’s twin sister) called me. I think she was feeling much the same, as she wasn’t going along either. But she had this really great idea. She had read or heard somewhere, about the gentler alternative to all this strenuous hiking. Somebody has set up on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, what is being called the Wild Coast Meander. There’s a Wild Coast Amble as well, and a combination of the two.
For those of you who don’t know the Wild Coast, it is a beautiful stretch of coastline along South Africa’s Eastern coast, with pristine beaches and cute little bays. A number of rivers flow into the sea here. Along the rivers and further inland, are areas of indigenous forest. It is a rural area, with few small towns or villages. Small seaside hotels/resorts (often family owned or managed) are dotted along this stretch of coast.
The purpose of the Wild Coast Meander/Amble, is that one walks along the coast – a lot of the time on the beach itself – from hotel to hotel. Words like “meander”, “amble”, “afternoons of leisure” definitely sound appealing to me! Rocky sections of coast are avoided by taking more inland routes through indigenous forests. Although if one is fit and agile (and mad?!) one can do the rocky bits if one chooses to. A local guide accompanies the hikers every day. The distance is about 55 kilometres walked over 5 days, and is said to be suitable for the “moderately fit”.
According to the web-site, porters are used on certain stretches of the hike. This may sound very colonial, but is part of a programme to provide employment to the very poor local communities in the area. Otherwise it seems luggage is transferred by road. So all you the “hiker” (maybe they should be called “amblers” instead?) have to do is carry a small day pack with your lunch, water etc. By mid-afternoon one is at the next hotel being fed, watered and pampered. Oh, and relaxing and enjoying the area.
Years ago Willie and I visited the Wild Coast and stayed at a place called Kobb Inn (at the Qora Mouth). We did the walk between Kobb Inn and Mazeppa Bay. Although I was slightly fitter at that stage, I can remember it being a longish, but quite easy walk along the beach. After some refreshments and a short rest, we walked back to Kobb Inn the same day. The only danger there, is that they have some really tiny (i.e. difficult to spot) ticks in the area, which carry the tick-bite fever parasite. Since I seem to be a magnet for mosquitoes and other bugs, I naturally got bitten and got sick. But that’s a whole other story . . .
So Estie, I think you’re right, this is so much more our style!!!