MHC WILD COAST HIKE
Port St John’s to Coffee Bay
26 – April to 2 May 2016

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders. Hike leader Keith Ashton

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]



Keith from the Midlands Hiking Club had organized a guided hike down the Wild Coast from Port St John’s to Coffee Bay. It was a mammoth task coordinating 12 hikers the Local Guide, transport, payments, and food. Jimmy our local guide and Tour Operator would be our local guide . He knew the area, and had organized overnight accommodation in the local villages, and also our B&B hosts would supply supper, and a place to sleep breakfast and some cases rudimentary ablution facilities. We would walk – supposedly along the coast, however, the nature of the hills and cliffs along the route would force us to walk inland on some days. Here, the mighty hills of the Wild Coast would test our hiking strength to the limits. Beach walking became an easy doddle. Walking through the scattered huts and villages with the numerous paths that led hither and thither would have tested an unguided hike tremendously. At Coffee Bay, Jimmy had organized a local taxi operator to get us safely back to our start point.

On the 26 April, 12 of us hikers met at the Amapondo Backpackers at Port St John’s where we would overnight, have breakfast, then meet Jimmy for a briefing and start our “Beach Walk ???”



(For ease of appreciating this walk, I have arranged the pictures in groups of the same sort of activity, with a small heading for each group)

THE BEACH
Walking along the beach was a case of sometimes on the beach, and sometimes on hill paths just above the beach. High hills and cliffs ending in the sea would force a higher route at times.



THE HIGH ROAD
From the beach we would experience very steep and hard climbs to get on to and over ridges , through villages , down into valley bottoms , climb again and eventually end up on the beach for a short while before doing the hilly and village bits again. The villagers and huts that we passed were very free of rubbish and waste plastic bags, and the people themselves were very friendly.



RIVER CROSSINGS
We were fortunate in that the tides were in our favour, and the crossings were totally un-dramatic. At the major crossings “Ferrymen” and their small rowing boats were available on site, and at one crossing we were given a super quick crossing on a motorized boat by the holiday makers who lived across the river. Where we crossed on foot was easy and safe.



BEACH WALKING and CATTLE
The beach was very pleasant to walk on, the sand was firm and the water warm. It was here that the fitter walked faster and the slow, slower. Then we would meet again when the next hill was reached. We were amazed at the numbers of cattle that seemed to spend the day “cooling on the beach”, just hanging around, chewing the cud and quite happy. Where they obtained drinking water was a mystery as we certainly saw very little ware available to them. While passing one of the Cape Nature Reserves, a group of Zebra were seen on the hill.



DREAM “GET AWAY” BEACH HOMES
Numerous beach holiday homes were passed on many of the prime beach spots along the way. Some were right on the beach and others because of the ground on higher ground but with superb views and access to the beaches.



LUNCH TIMES AND PLACES
Lunches were taken where ever we were when lunch time came along. Sometime a bit away from the beach, once deep down on a small stream in the valley bottom, and once on the beach but far from the sea. My biggest problem was drinking water as I need a lot of water. The water we did get from where we overnighted needed to be sterilized, as Jimmy said, “we are used to the water- you will get sick !!!!” There was very little water available on the hike. We passed a number of communal taps, many were dry.



ACCOMODATION AND FOOD
WE spent each night in a sort of B & B, where we were provided with in one case several rooms, beds, electricity and hot showers and flush toilet, to a rondavel with 12 mattresses on the floor and half a bucket of warm water to wash in a private shower area. The toilet was bucket flushing. One place had bunk beds, but the ladder was so precarious for the top bunks so the mattresses were put on the floor in an adjacent room. Very light duvets and pillows were supplied.

The food served was the same food that the family would eat -

Dinner: RICE, VEGGIES, SOUP AND CHICKEN. some days it will be STIFF PAP,VEGGIES,SOUP ,SALADS AND CHICKEN/FISH. or SAMP AND BEANS WITH VEGGIES.
Breakfast: SOFT PORRIDGE WITH MILK,HOME-MADE BREAD,EGGS,TEA/COFFEE.
In most cases the food was very tasty, well prepared and quite plentiful.



SUNRISE AND SUNSETS
On any holiday trip, there must be sunsets and sunrises. To experience them, one must be outside at the correct moment. The beach normally offers spectacular colour displays at these times of the day.



HOME TRIP
WE finally reached Coffee Bay at the appointed hour on the 1st of May. Met our taxi , and 11 of us hikers , (unfortunately one of our party had sprained her ankle badly earlier in the hike and had to leave the hike party), Jimmy, the driver and his 2 aids – which made 14 bodies plus all our hiking gear got stuffed into the taxi, and off we set for the 3 ½ hour ride back to Port St John’s. Needless to say, the taxi ride could take up a few pages of notes – it gave great insight to how millions of commuters travel every day.



BACK AT PORT ST JOHN’S
As we arrived to late to take the long trip back home, we booked into another B and no B – supper and breakfast were extra’s. Next morning some left very early and some a bit later after breakfast to head home.



All arrived safely. Thanks again to Keith for organizing this trip, and also to our fellow hikers for great hiking comradery . Thanks to Jimmy for leading the experience Thanks to those who were prepared to walk the extra distance to get to the “SHABEENS” to purchase the Quarts of beer that we all downed so well - not so much for the alcohol, but for that exquisite cold liquid(water) to replace our depleted body fluids !!!!!!!! It was a great trip in many ways. We experienced “first hand” how beautiful and rough the area is. How much hardship these people endure in their far flung homes and villages. The hardship around a precious commodity that we – more privileged people – here I include anyone who has water on tap or very nearby – that of clean, available water. So much water is wasted by so many people – you have no idea of the waste of an exhaustible commodity that we do every single time we open a tap. ONE DAY BEWARE unless we all change our ways, this un-noticed commodity will change your lives when it RUNS OUT , and it will run out one day. Take care and be safe and saving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~