Day 4: Coffee Bay – Mpande

Day 4: 46 km, 7hrs.   Coffee bay will remain with me as being ironically the most disappointing coffee experience of my life (not a decent cup in sight and the barely acceptable instant we found at the backpackers came at a hefty price !) . Apparently it was named after a ship carry coffee beans ran aground in the late 1800s, although a few beans seeded themselves the conditions proved too harsh for the plants to survive. Nowdays its a grubby little rubbish strewn village in a beautiful setting where lots of travellers end up smoking up the rest of their travel budgets.

Glad to leave we were welcomed with more excrutiating sharp climbs through rondavel hamlets scattered across the hillsides that dropped down once more to the most exquisite estuaries.

Crossing the murky (very possibly shark-infested) Umtata river mouth.
Beach cycling requires very careful study of the tides. Here we were too late, the sand was more mush rather than hard resulting in another pushing session.
Homestead living. Typical 'transkei' pigs abound with the happiest free-range chickens.
The piggy and the chick
Swing with a view
Another crossing, good for cooling off. However we never lingered too long, the thought of Zambezis kept us focussed on getting to the otherside asap.
Another magnificent beach near Whale Rock. Cattle tracks made for a great descent.
The quientessential rondavel. Traditional architecture at its best. Materials all locally available, cool in the hot summers and good insulation for the biting winters.
Rondavels are still the prevelant housing form along the wildcoast. Sadly in most other parts of South Africa they are being replaced by more modern and desirable designs and materials. As would be expected the durability and design features are lost while the cost increases as materials are brought in, besides the loss of cultural heritage.
Mud bricks lie drying in the sun, soon to be made into another rondavel.
Transkei pup. Turquoise: the favourite colour for a xhosa hut.
Shady spot for an nguni cow.
Dropping down to the Mtakagaggie River mouth
Mtakagaggie estuary: not advisable to swim across, finally we managed to lure man and boat to take us.
Sarah shares a ride with the ever enthusiastic village children.
...while Gogo enjoys watching on. Her bucket for water: its a long way down and up to few water points.
Little Xhosa girl
The bafana were practising for the World Cup ....starting in just a 1mth!

One of those very steep and nasties, photos can never capture gradients!
Smiley faces
Turquoise tot

Bridget Ringdahl

Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.

I live in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal which is great cycling country, within 10 minutes I can be bouncing along some of the finest single tracks in the province.

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