A Bakkie, Some Bikes, and Loads of Back Roads

Some mountain bike routes needed to be mapped for a new book. Maybe a few camping pix had to be taken. And yup, there were a couple of spots that had to be checked out for future articles …

But more importantly, there were family members we needed to catch up with, and it was time for a real holiday, off the grid, away from cell phones and the internet, and way out of sight of the deadline dragons. And one of the best places to go and do this is still the Eastern Cape, and more specifically the Wild Coast.

With the Isuzu brimful of bikes and other toys, we stocked up on Vitamin G along the gravel back roads, but with loads of stops along the way. After all, a roadtrip should be much more about the journey, rather than the final destination.

Beach trail runs in J-Bay (the surf was not playing ball – maybe a good thing!); a lekker crank at Impala Ranch; a day at Addo Elephant National Park; and another kief MTB blast on the Hopewell Conservancy Trails near Port Elizabeth made for a good start.

Then Slummies came and blew me away – let me tell you, Buffalo City  still rocks. I remember it from my childhood holidays, and sure, some things have changed, but the people are still straight down the line, and the landscapes still represent.

Nahoon Beach stretched endlessly for afternoon hikes or runs, and my ride at 3 Silos MTB Park blasted me along some of the best single-track I’ve ridden in a decade. World-class, in a word, and that goes for the coffee (single-origin Rwandan beans at Lavender Blue) as well.

From here, mayhem gravel strips tripped us to Bulungula on the Transkei Coast, around 30km or so south of Coffee Bay. This is a ‘community lodge’ with a fair mix of The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent, but the same cannot be said for the immediate surrounds.

Plunging sea cliffs, rolling Wild Coast hills, cattle-tracking trail runs, mountain bikes via the outlying amaXhosa villages, wrestling with giant crayfish, pink rondawel huts, pods of playful dolphins, canoeing on the Qhora River, a bellicose killer whale breaching 50m off-shore in the breakers of our swimming beach … this is an untamed and beautiful place, and the week there went way too quickly.

A final night at Buccaneers Backpackers in Cintsa was so beautiful that we had to forcibly remove ourselves to continue the journey home. (I was especially sad to walk away from so many litres of Emerald Vale Pale Ale, a locally brewed beer now right at the top of my true-brew list.

Thank you, Oos Kaap, and thank you to all you fantastic people who made time for us. Family  is a fabulous thing to have.

Click here to view the pics