DAY 3 14 km
Tsweleni to Hluleka
An Isuzu truck crawling up a hill reminds me it’s a work day – for the rest of South Africa, at least. My Monday will involve more time next to the beach and some hills to climb. The group has found a nice hiking rhythm. Up and down we go, along empty beaches and dirt roads, through villages where we buy Bigga Naks and Lemon Creams, over more hills, along another beach… My worries melt away. All I have to think about is putting one foot in front of the other. The kids we meet are friendly and I’m amazed at their creativity: Almost anything can be made into a toy. One boy slides down a hill on an old beer carton, another boy tows a flattened 2 ℓ Coke bottle on a rope. When I last did the hike, many of the children called out for sweets. This time I hear fewer such calls. Please don’t hand out sweets on the trail – it’s bad for young teeth in an area where there is limited access to dental care, and it fosters a begging culture. The views seem to get better and better. “Still amazing,” I hear Liezel mutter as she takes yet another photo. We stop for lunch at about 1.30 pm, at the picnic site in Hluleka Nature Reserve. The beach in the reserve is framed by rocks and wild banana trees – it looks like it should be on a brochure for an island holiday. ( Stay in the chalets at Hluleka for R476 per night for two people – see go! #148. – Ed.) We spend the night in the village of Hluleka, a 45-minute walk from the reserve. “I can’t remember the last time I saw my face,” Dian says after his shower. The shower is in a separate hut and works with a bucket system: Water is boiled in a black pot and poured into a bucket with a showerhead. You hoist the bucket up with a rope and away you go. As the sun sets, children perform traditional dances on the lawn. The stars come out and our host Nokhanyo Jerewiya treats us to home-made bread, pap, pumpkin and chicken. Later, I read an entry in the visitors’ book by a German tourist: “Dear Nokhanyo, we had such a good rest and sleep on your great mattresses. Your food was most amazing and healthy. Thanks for feeding us your chicken’s eggs. To watch them go to sleep was better than watching TV.”
TRANSKEI SNAPSHOTS (clockwise from top left). Apiwe Dlotovu owns this spaza in a settlement near Mngazana. The rock pools are a good place to cool down. Nokhanyo Jerewiya will make you feel welcome when you stay with her near Hluleka on Day 3. The ritual of tea, coffee and home-made bread became a highlight at the end of each day. Apart from iconic Eastern Cape scenery, you’ll also walk past interesting rock formations on the coast. The closer you get to settlements, the narrower the paths over the hills become.