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PARK 9 TO 10 | EASTERN CAPE TO KZN

BY Nikki Bolton

From Sibuya Wayne started the trek from Kenton through Buffalo Pass and up and down through the mountainous Transkei. The first day into the Transkei covered a distance of 110kms climbing 2135m through Kei Cuttings.  The strong headwinds and winding uphills were challenging and the end just didn’t seem to be in sight.

THE WILD COAST AWAITS...

Although Wayne anticipated hills, he wasn’t quite prepared for how much climbing he would be doing.  From Mthatha to Mt Frere he covered 115kms climbing 2272m and started the day with the temperature of 8 degrees which was cold until we reached Kokstad and he started his cycle at 0 degrees and thick mist which meant shocking visibility.


“I have learnt to dread downhills because in the Transkei

that means a big uphill to follow. 

I had to stop on a pass and put on extra

mountaineering kit as it was getting so cold.”

Wayne


The constant climbing seemed to go hand in hand with inclement weather.  On one particular day gale force winds meant that Wayne barely progressed and the wind was so strong that he was in danger of being pushed into the traffic and his focus that day became to stay on his bike and keep to the shoulder of the road.  Drivers in the Transkei don’t tend to adhere to traffic rules and Wayne had some hairy experiences. There were also frequent roadworks, hills, a lack of shoulders on the roadside, hills, friendly and unfriendly locals and often not to friendly dogs that were much to curious for Wayne’s liking.

 

Wayne cycled through busy and buzzing villages jam-packed with taxis, cars, jaywalkers and the sidewalks seemed to burst with bustling crowds of people skirting the myriad of stalls.  These ranged from hair salons with canvas walls illustrating a selection of styles, piles of second hand clothing neatly arranged and well managed, coops with fresh squawking chickens, tethered goats and untethered goats, stalls with muti in all kinds of forms from herbs to animal hides and tails and others with fresh produce.

O-lee KIDS...

One of the unexpected highlights of our Transkei route, other than your typical breathtaking panoramas… just incredible landscapes that seem to go on forever - was the interaction we had with the local children.  I tended to stay fairly close to Wayne through the Transkei given the terrain and particular challenges, and would drive ahead and wait for him and Daniel to arrive.  What amazed me was how an apparently uninhabited hillside could suddenly come alive with children.  As they became aware of our lifesized rhino Olli’s appearance on the back of our Avis Van Rental support vehicle, they would start appearing and I would have to wait for them to cover some distances to get to meet Olli.


The children would come running and then as they got closer would come to a sudden halt as he is really quite beautiful and realistic after Splitting Image Taxidermy gave him eyelashes and refurbished him giving little touches that have given him character and made him look quite real and engaging.  Most of these children will never see a rhino in the wild and it was really special to see awestruck they were by his size and stature and yet how their hearts responded and by the time we left they were hugging Olli and taking selfies.  We would leave to them showing us the Olli sign (thumb and forefinger joined with the other 3 fingers alongside spelling Olli) and shouting O-lee… and I love you. Very precious encounters.

It was an incredibly rewarding experience and what struck me was that despite language barriers I found that most children immediately connected wholeheartedly with our message which is simply… One Land – Love It! 

 July 14, 2017
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Diary of the parks
Nikki Bolton

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