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  • Expedition – Port St. John’s & The Wildlings

    When road tripping with friends, we feel that it is always essential to tick a few boxes before choosing your travel mates. I mean no one wants people just wishing they could go home the second they climb in the car with you now do they?
    So…
    The boxes to tick are as follows:
    1: Are they crazy? (Got married in Vegas by Elvis!)  TICK
    2: Are they fun to be around? (Laugh a minute) TICK
    3: Are they adventurous? (Searching for the sunrise with Irish coffee and rusks through impenetrable terrain at 05:00am) TICK
    4: Do they mind being seen in public with you? (All good!) TICK

    Yup! We reckoned that these two were fit to come on an adventure with us! So, off we went… Romeo & Juliette and Peter Pan & Tinks… all the way to Port St. John’s (or was it Albert, Edward or Nolloth??? or whatever)

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    Without further adieu, let us introduce you to ‘The Wildlings’! AKA Romeo & Juliette… No South Coast trip is complete without a drink stop at the Pistols Saloon in Ramsgate! Huckleberry the donkey is one of the favorite patrons and a regular face at the bar. He drinks Coke (from the can), eats carrots and is pampered by all the other patrons. (Yeah, yeah, we don’t think Coke is good for donkey’s either, but he’s still alive isn’t he?)

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    From there we headed down to the sleepy little coastal town of Port St. John’s. The 90km drive on the R61 to PORT ST JOHNS from Mthatha is one of the best journeys on the Wild Coast. After passing tiny Libode, with its small hotel and restaurant, you start the dramatic descent to the coast, past craggy ravines, and epic vistas of forest and rondavel-spotted grassland. The road runs alongside the Mzimvubu River for the last few kilometers, giving you a perfect view of the Gates of St John, before reaching the town square and taxi rank. The big surprise, coming from the sparse hillsides around Mthatha, is how dramatic, hilly, lush and steamy it all is.

    It seems to be stuck in the 80’s era and filled with old fishermen’s homes, but it was ours to explore for the weekend! We had booked to stay at the Amapondo Backpackers but upon arrival realized that it wasn’t quite as up to scratch as we’d hoped. Their website is far better than what you get and so the next day we swapped and decided to rather stay at The Jungle Monkey.

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    On afternoon 1, we drove to the top of the adjacent mountain where many tourists seem to head up to the local airstrip for sundowners. The views from the top are INCREDIBLE but it does get a bit chilly, so take a warm jacket with you. Do be careful of the surrounding rocks on the slopes as they are quite slippery! (I almost learned to fly that day).

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    Well, most mornings are really not complete without a good coffee, but when traveling with these two cray crays, it is quite likely that you will have created one of your most memorable and epic moments in life before 07:00am!
    We decided to wear our animal onesies, pith helmets and go find the best spot to watch the sunrise armed with an Irish coffee in our travel mugs and a big ol’ box of Ouma Condensed Milk rusks!
    Winding up the narrow back roads just following our noses, we could eventually go no further with the car, and so we grabbed our goods and headed through THICK bush until we found THIS!!!

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    Is this not one of theeeeee most epic sunrises you have ever seen!!! I actually have no words to describe it and it was honestly a memory that will last a whole lifetime.

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    Afterwards we decided to venture out and go look for Port St. John’s blowhole! It’s a bloody treacherous climb down with ropes and ladders (most certainly not for the faint-hearted) and must be timed correctly in order to actually see the water blasting out the hole. We didn’t time it well and so…well, it was just a hole hahaha. The rocks around it are crazy slippery, so be super careful. Peter Pan decided to sit this one out due to his fear of heights. (I know right! He flies everywhere??) You’ll see him standing behind us on top of the hill in all the photos!

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    That afternoon it was onto adventure number 3 for the day. We set out to try and find what is known as Waterfall Bluff! It’s a bit of a drive outside Port St. John’s and I wouldn’t recommend trying to go in a normal sedan. To be honest, I’m not too sure how we found it because they aren’t any signs or road markers (well none that I saw anyway), but it seems to be a popular destination for tourists to visit, so perhaps I just missed them all? We parked close to what looked like a self-catering house in the middle of nowhere? From there it was about a 3-4km hike through fields and along the coast to get to the waterfall.

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    Upon reaching this magnificent waterfall that drops straight into the ocean, we sat and marveled at not only whales breaching but a pod of about 200 dolphins swimming past us! Another EPIC memory that will last a lifetime! Most times, places like this simply cannot be described with words. You just HAVE to go see them for yourself! Put this adventure on your bucket list right now… Go do it!

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    Everywhere you go in Port St. John’s (or actually the Transkei), you will find cattle. Most photographers love to go and catch epic shots of these beautiful creatures on the beach which is where they spend a lot of time. Absolutely my luck… I never saw ONE on the damn beach, so this pic just had to do…

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    There are a bunch of quirky restaurants in town where you can go for meals. We managed to find Steve’s Pub where they serve dessert pizzas and well that was me… I was there like a bear!!! All in all, it’s a great little town to stop over for a short getaway or if you’re passing through, and definitely has some memory-making spots, so don’t pass them by!

    Need to know

    While most lodges and backpackers offer tours of the town, it might be more enjoyable to explore on your own (especially if you are with kids), but you’ll need a car, and the higher the clearance, the better. While not all roads are tarred, they aren’t too bad but expect some stretches of rocky and uneven terrain. Exploring on foot is very doable, just ask locals for tips, and bring comfortable walking shoes.

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