Overlanding in 2023: Part 3

Section 1: At last we arrived at the Club First Stage Wild Coast route RV on Monday 20th February, which was Yellow Sands outside East London. What a great campsite! Tuesday saw John & Lana Zulch arrive, with Dave & Anne Roy arriving Wednesday. Unfortunately Corne` & Erika Smal had cancelled their booking, and were sadly missed.

Friends of John & Lana, Eban & Marlize accompanied us on our first move to Double Mouth on 25th, outside Morgans Bay. This regular stop with stunning views and remote location provided the group with true bush camp feel, despite the forewarned building operations and windy weather. Cyclone Freddy had already affected our February weather, and was hanging around our Northern boundary, destined to further disrupt our progress up the coast. The previous week severe rainstorms caused camps to be overgrown, being too damp for mowing, however Club members all joined in for a pleasant braai, and activities included fishing, walking, and loafing around, for 3 more nights.

Dave and John assisted us with an electrical charge issue, and discovered that our AC charger was not working. Solar and 12v charging therefore had to keep us going. Mary and I visited the Yellowwood Forest Campsite, where the owner Paul gave us a guided tour of  this delightful camp, having 30 stands, river hikes, trails, and a natural rock swimming pool. Our last braai was washed out by an ill-timed rainstorm.

March 1st: Departing for Dwesa Nature Reserve, Dave and Anne joined us for the ferry crossing of the Kei river, with John & Lana needing to backtrack to the N2 route, as their vehicle was too large for the ferry.

Re-united at Dwesa we hired Vuyani to guide us in this exotic area. This was the 4th time we had used him for club groups, this time for a hike through the forest, where he was able to educate us on a variety of plants and trees. Then we headed down the beach, and up to view the Dwesa Tunnel. A long hard climb which only John & Lana managed to complete.

March 4th: Having checked up on recent road damage we re-routed via Eliotdale en route to White Clay outside Coffee Bay, having been informed that there were bridges recently washed away. A pot-holed tar road led us down to the coastline until we reached to outskirts of the town, where we needed to detour through the hotel, as the main bridge had been demolished by floods, with many large trees washed downstream still visible in the village.

Great to be back at White Clay for the Club`s 5th visit! Low range 1st down to this unique nest. Days were spent walking, and swimming, plus a scenic ride to The Hole in the Wall where we met Alfie Cox of Dakar fame, who was leading a group of Norwegian bikers on a local tour. They were also staying at White Clay, where we had a chance to chat. Then to Maphusi Point, which is the 2nd stunning place to visit. Uprooted trees were strewn around the river mouth, having been washed down the stream.

March 8th: Having been advised by Roy, who owns White Clay, that since the storms no vehicles had arrived directly from the North, we departed to Port St. Johns via Mthatha, which was unfortunate as we missed many Wild Coast highlights. We pitched camp at The Pont, which was well laid out with exotic plants and trees alongside the river, but soon were hit by a ferocious storm.

We had just unfolded out awning when a major gust of wind lifted the canvas with force, snapping the heavy aluminium rafters in the process. Dave & John assisted to prop the canvas to provide some protection, and later helped us to pack the roof bag with broken pieces, as we had decided to leave the next day for Karridene on the South KZN coast. This gave us the opportunity to seek professional help to assess the awning, as well as bringing forward the fitting of a new AC charger. We were sad to leave, which robbed us of the planned waterfall visits around Lusikisiki.

Departing on Thursday 9th we reached Karridene, and next day were able to have a new charger fitted, as well as submitting an insurance claim for a new awning. Natal Caravan & Marine in Pinetown are the Bush Lapa dealers there, who advised that the awning was a write-off. We also enjoyed a family of Egyptian Geese who visited us 2 or 3 times a day and a Wooly-necked Stork who arrived every evening. We also had Louries, but were not able to see them clearly or identify.

12th March: John & Lana arrived at Karridene for the night, and advised that Dave & Anne were already back in Cape Town. Pity that the trip was terminated early! Thanks to the 2 couples for their participation, and for the extra assistance when needed.

We are now at Bonamanzi Game Farm north of St. Lucia, where game visit the campsite regularly. We have had a family of about 20 mongooses, warthogs, nyala, impala, steenbokkies, 3 zebra, and last night a wildebeest sleeping next to the vehicle, which is entertaining.

We have already been paid out by our insurers and have placed orders for the replacement awning to be fitted in Tswane on 11th April. This is just prior to our Botswana stage, when we will be joined by club members at Palapye. Bonamanzi yesterday upgraded us to a site with private bathroom and scullery, to accommodate a large group on our spot. A welcome bonus 7 days here, then 2 nights at Ithala Game Reserve which was included in a previous Club trip, before a short visit to JHB.

Camping rates average is R100 pppn for the trip so far, and have commenced our 9th week of 31. See part 1 of our trip report for details on the different sections of our adventure.

Great to be away!

Viv and Mary