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Kim’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 23 Aug 2007

Location: Cape Town - Bulungula, South Africa

MapWell, up at 5.30 this morning to go to the airport. Hannes, the lodge owner is going to the Transkei for a week on business and asked Florine and I if we would like to go - easy answer, yes. There are 7 of us in the group and the flight to East London feels a little like a party. It did not help that Hannes was feeling nervous about the flight and we boarded with 4 coffee's in the system. We have to get to Mthuta by 3.00 to met the pick up for Bulungula, so upon arrival, we catch a taxi to main East London and look for a taxi to take us on the next leg of the journey. When I say taxi, please don't think of a clean London type but of white vans stuffed to the gills with people and luggage. We did eventually find one that will take us to the collection point but the problem then is trying to get him to agree not to collect any other people on the way there. The driver is not too happy as he can fit 10 people in and we are only 7 but a price is agreed and off we go. East London is a port city like Cape but very run down and looks miserable. The journey is stupid with lugguage piled up around our ears and how he fits 10 in, I am not sure but we hurtle along the roads at great speed. The Transkei is an area on the Eastern Cape side of South Africa and is beautiful. Rolling hills, rondavals and terrible roads. The potholes in some places were the size of small craters but, hey white van man can drive, so we just sail over the top. The views are just stunning and the 5 hour journey passes with lots of loud music, beer and a general party atmosphere. Hannes work collegues are great, two of them work for a language school based in Cape Town, one runs her own backpackers on sea point in Cape and the others are in marketing and advertising. By the time we arrive at the collection point, my bum is so numb and the bruises on my legs are going to be a total rainbow of colours but at least we arrive in time to meet the next taxi but this turns out to be a small landrover with a trailer. Joy of joys, the luggage goes in the trailer but there are now 10 of us to go to Bulungula. If you can imaging, 6 of us sitting in the back on bench seats, 3 by 3, 3 in the middle and the drivers wife in grand elegance sitting in the front by herself!! Tight fit. The women here in the Transkei are considered to be amongst the most beautiful in Southern Africa and are very sort after for their bottoms which are huge, the bigger the bottom, the more cows she can fetch when it comes time to marry. There is no way that anyone else could have got in this car. The journey is about 3 hours, so it was a good job that most of us knew each other. The countryside just got more and more beutiful as we continued our journey into the back of beyond and an additional hazrd was the animal, goats, cattle, sheep and sometimes donkeys roaming free and on the road. A long blast on the car's horn moved most of them quickly but every now and then we screeched to a halt whilst some animal moved in its own time. My view was very restricted through the side windows of the car but I did manage to see several vultures eating on the road side - dinner was just lying their. We eventually stop to let the drivers wife off at home and Hannes leaped into the front seat before you could say boo - at least he was comfortable. The journey was nearly over, just the last 5ks to go - pick up 2 more people! Bulungula is so remote and the roads so bad, that you can only access it in a 4 x 4 and these last few ks take nearly 90 minutes. God, the road clung to the hills, down into steep valleys and across what I thought were streams but turned out to be small rivers. I was so glad that my view was restricted otherwise, I might have just headed back to the airport. Just as it got to the point were you though no more, the hills started to give way and the sea was there - nothing but nothing other than a cove and a small cluster of rondavals - we had made it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!