On the bor­der

Go! Camp & Drive - - Camping Destination -

If it wasn’t for the Mtavuna River, The Pont Hol­i­day and Wa­ter Sport Re­sort prob­a­bly would have fallen into two prov­inces, be­cause this is about as close as you’ll get to the bor­der be­tween KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. The re­sort is on the Natal side of the river that di­vides the two prov­inces. And if it wasn’t for the river, the re­sort prob­a­bly wouldn’t ex­ist; be­cause the wa­ter is the lifeblood of the place. It gets re­ally busy over week­ends, even out of sea­son. When you drive into the camp­site, the river­bank stretches from left to right in front of you. Mo­tor boats with skis be­hind roar over the wa­ter and jet skis growl to and fro, while a tourist boat and peo­ple in ca­noes glide past silently. Up­stream, close to the shore, an in­flat­able boat with a pre­car­i­ously bal­anced fish­ing rod bobs on the wa­ter while the owner gets some shut­eye. On land it’s a jolly, colour­ful mish­mash of peo­ple in bright swim­ming cos­tumes, beach tow­els, and gaze­bos on lush green lawn. The smell of meat on the coals com­ing from the direc­tion of the small, thatch-roofed la­pas per­me­ates the air, and ev­ery­one seems to be chill­ing and hav­ing a good time.

Pa­tience is a virtue

The re­sort rules re­quire that day visi­tors park out­side, but it looks like this is only en­forced in sea­son. On a Sun­day af­ter­noon there are quite a few stands oc­cu­pied by cars and trail­ers for boats. You might have to ask some­one to please move their ve­hi­cle if you want to pitch camp, or you’ll have to wait. It’s worth it to wait, es­pe­cially if you’re look­ing for pri­vacy and shade. There are 41 stands in the re­sort, and when you drive in through the gate there’s a sign against the ring wall around the pool, show­ing stands 8–41 to the left and 1–7 to the right. The stands on the left are on a large, open piece of grass, and there are only a few with shade trees to keep the ear­ly­morn­ing sun out of your tent. The seven sat­nds on the right are first prize: they are sep­a­rated from each other by a row of trees, and you have an un­in­ter­rupted view over the lawn in front to you to the river and the bushy hill on the op­po­site side. Day visi­tors are re­quired to leave by 7 pm, and by late af­ter­noon the guys with the bakkies and trail­ers start queu­ing at the jetty to load their boats. Ev­ery­where peo­ple are packing up pic­nic bas­kets and

Mo­tor boats with skis be­hind roar over the wa­ter and jet skis growl to and fro, while a tourist boat and peo­ple in ca­noes glide past silently.

gaze­bos and get­ting the kids to­gether. Soon, peace is re­stored, and the boats’ roar­ing and peo­ple’s laugh­ter are re­placed by the cackle of Egyp­tian geese and other wa­ter birds. In the dis­tance you can hear peo­ple call­ing from the op­po­site side of the river. Tech­ni­cally, many of the park’s per­son­nel live in the Eastern Cape, and com­mute to work by boat in the morn­ings and even­ings. The boat’s moor­ing on the op­po­site side of the river is more or less the same place where the old ferry, af­ter which the re­sort was named, docked be­fore the Um­tan­vuna Bridge was opened in 1966. Next to the river there’s an in­for­ma­tion board re­count­ing the full his­tory of the ferry. Speak­ing of the bridge: if the ex­cite­ment on the river isn’t enough for you, you can drive back to Port Ed­ward and over the bridge to the Eastern Cape – and the Wild Coast Sun and Wild Waves Wa­ter Park. It’s about 10 km from here.

A meal at dusk

When it’s time for din­ner, you can light a fire at one of the la­pas. There are no braais at the stands, but there are six braai la­pas spread out around the re­sort. Each have four or six back-to-back builtup braais. If you for­got your Aro­mat at home you can head to the re­sort shop, which is at the main en­trance. The shop is small, and – just like at a school tuck­shop – you have to ask at a win­dow for what you want. But the se­lec­tion is sur­pris­ingly var­ied. Of course, you don’t have to braai. In the mid­dle of the re­sort, near the river, is Pad­dlers restau­rant and bar. You can or­der any­thing from a break­fast sand­wich with ba­con, cheese and egg (R30) to 600 g of ribs (R125). Try the curry of the day (R90). The food is tasty and well-pre­sented, and while you wait you can read about the sur­round­ing at­trac­tions on the menu. It’s kind of like a tourism brochure.

Mon­key­ing around

Make sure you pack ev­ery­thing away and se­cure your tent be­fore turn­ing in for the night, or you’ll fall prey to the vervet mon­keys sneak­ing along the tree branches above you. When you walk to the ablu­tion block in the morn­ing you’ll see them leap­ing from branch to branch like Tarzan. You have to walk in be­tween the hol­i­day houses if you want to use the ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties clos­est to the stands on the right. They’re easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. The other three ablu­tion blocks are fur­ther on, to the left of the en­trance road (if you’re fac­ing the river). The fa­cil­i­ties look like they’ve re­cently been ren­o­vated; the hot wa­ter in the shower is scorch­ing hot, and the wa­ter pres­sure is strong.

HOLD THE LINE. Wa­ter sports are the main ac­tiv­ity at The Pont, but you don’t need to bring your own boat to the re­sort to en­joy the wa­ter.

EAT ASHORE. Pad­dlers Restau­rant’s menu lists a huge va­ri­ety of dishes. You won’t have to braai even once dur­ing your stay if you don’t want to.

FLOAT YOUR BOAT. On the week­end you’ll see all man­ner of wa­ter­craft, from speed boats to sim­ple ca­noes.

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