I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that the beaches of the Eastern Cape are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Like, it’s not the same as Cape Town beaches, which kind of show off with their white sands, freezing waters and incredible sunsets.
BUT the beaches here have their own magic about them even without the sunset to make them glow every evening. (Apparently like, the sun rises this side or something, but I’ve never been awake early enough to see it so I’m not sure if it’s true). I think it’s how lush the coastlines are – with green trees and shrubs all over the place. It’s not just these endless stretches of coastline, it’s more like secluded little enclaves . I love it.
Not to mention the cows just chilling out in the surf. Something I don’t think I will ever get used to and totally unique to the Eastern Cape (although I’m sure the more travelled amongst you reading this may school me in that regard).
Morgan’s Bay Camp Site
We set up at Morgan’s Bay Caravan Park. There was also another option that we looked at (Yellowwood Forest) but we decided on the Caravan Park. I think it was because they got back to us the fastest, I can’t remember. But what I do like about this spot was that it was right on a little lagoon and close to the sea.
The morning after we arrived we woke up to a little market happening right in the camp area to raise funds for the roads. It was cool to chat to some of the locals and the kids had fun riding their bikes, having their faces painted and eating pancakes.
By that afternoon the weather had changed dramatically. The wind had picked up and it was blowing a gale out there. We had gone to the local coffee shop for some coffee and more cakes and things (we’re eating so badly on this trip but having so much fun that I don’t care). While we were there it got really hectic, like so hectic that we wondered how much of our stuff had blown into the lagoon.
Back in the car we raced back to the site only to find that somehow we were totally fine but one of the other campers had their van smashed by a falling tree branch! It was super hectic because the Dad and his kid were inside the van when it happened. Luckily they made it out OK and after everyone battened down the hatches, everyone else was fine too. The only problem is that the electricity went out for about a day.
Yellowwood Forest Market – Morgan’s Bay
The next morning we headed out to the market at Yellowwood Forest. Oh man what a great place. I think it’s more of a backpacker vibe. At this point in our adventure I still thought backpackers were only for young scally wags getting drunk and having daily parties. However that’s totally not always the vibe, but you’ll see that at our next stop.
Anyway, we liked the vibe of the place with a great play area for the kids, trees all over and cool little spots to have set up our van. Luckily we could still explore the place at the morning market and while we were there we did their little forest hike which was fun.
Double Mouth Beach – Morgan’s Bay
On another day we pretended the my little Figo was a 4×4 and headed up the bumpy gravel road up the coast to Double Mouth Beach. We’d heard a lot of great things from everyone about it and the “bead beach” which is also there. Typically for us we obviously chose the wrong time to go, as the high tide was coming in. But again, we didn’t even know that.
Anyway, it was such a great time that we had there chilling on the beach in such a beautiful spot. It really felt untouched by humans but I know that’s not true because everyone told us about it. Nevertheless we were five out of maybe 20 people on the beach that afternoon. It’s worth a full day out there. Plus if you’re in a 4×4 there is also a camp site out there that seems pretty decent.
Morgan’s Bay Lighthouse
So we’d see somewhere that you can take a walk up the beach to the lighthouse. Having not really done much hiking since Hogsback we decided to do it. We walked for about an hour along the beach and came across the carcass of a dead whale. It was really smelly, like the kind of smell that gets into your nasal passages and only leaves after you sacrifice a unicorn on a moonlit night. After that we trekked up the hill to the lighthouse. Which was more like a light cabin. In fact it was really something you would have seen on the set of Lost (one the best series ever made, if you haven’t watched it, change that now).
The rest of the time that we were there we braaied, we schooled, we worked, we visited the restaurants in the area and we just made the most the little town of Morgan’s Bay.
I have to say that it’s not really like the other coastal towns of the Eastern Cape that we visited. It’s kitted out with a lot of great restaurants, shops and things. I think what I’m saying is that it’s not rural which our next stop totally was. Read the next post for our first breakdown, the best pizza in the EC and our time in Coffee Bay.
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Day 41 – Morgan’s Bay 1. We woke up to find that there was a market being set up in the campsite. Which was cool – breakfast sorted. We also woke up to a stray dog sleeping on our camping chair. Which was not cool, but only because the chair will never smell right again. I felt so sorry for the dog. So many stray dogs out here it will make your heartache. 2. The weather was sunshiney and gay when we woke up but during the market it turned quickly. The clouds came rolling in swiftly with a crazy wind that nearly took out the jumping castle. 3. We wanted to use that moment to find a laundromat (there aren’t any, unless you pay per item at the hotel – just a lot out of our budget). So we gave up, popped to the shop and then decided to stop for a coffee at the pink lady. Lovely store. But then the wind really started picking up and we suddenly realized that all our stuff outside our van, may now be one with the lagoon! 4. We rushed back and our things were safe, howevs, a massive tree branch broke off, landing on a fellow campers van while he and his baby were inside! Luckily the people are fine. But their caravan is pretty smashed. 5. I’m not sure if it’s related but we no longer have power here. Going to the toilets was bad enough but now in the rainy, dark it’s pretty much unbearable. I’m so dramatic. But seriously. ? I’m glad we have battery power in the van! 6. Do you like my awkward picture of a pancake in front of a river?! 7. Also what Knox looks like in the morning. You think he’s still asleep and then he pops up suddenly looking like this. ? 8. The kitchen when cooking. In case you’re interested. ?? 9. The thunder and lightning was actually very intense. You could feel the thunder in your chest! Kyla wanted to go home, I had to pretend that I was totally fine with everything even though I wasn’t. Parenting hey?! Gotta be that adult person guiding the ship even when you want to crawl up into a ball and read a book.
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Day 42 – Morgan’s Bay 1. We woke up to a completely different day to yesterday – a warm, sun shine filled day. It meant that it was a perfect day for exploring! 2. As usual it was a slow start but we ended up at the Yellowwood Forest Backpackers where they seem to have a monthly market. It was cool with a really nice vibe and things to do (play area for the kids, karma free pizza and cute little stalls). I kind of wish we had camped out there instead of here, further from the beach but more foresty and chilled. 3. We did their little family trail which was fun. Not fun was the amount of spiderwebs I walked into! Still shudder every time I think of it. 4. Got home, packed a bag, changed into swimming gear and headed for the beach. There’s a little walk along the beach then a foresty trail to the lighthouse. I don’t recommend it. Not because the walk is difficult or anything, it’s just not worth it. You can’t access the lighthouse and it’s rather like something you’d find in Lost. You’re waiting for the smoke monster to make its appearance! (remember that?!) But do walk to the end of the beach, it’s very pretty! 5. On our way there we came across a beached whale which was quite an experience. The smell was something else but other than that it was quite educational for the kids. Still can’t get the smell out my nose though… 6. I lugged my big camera all the way there only to find that the battery was dead. Suddenly it became twice as heavy carrying it back, having brought it for nothing. 7. Took a bit of a miserable picture of RI because she looked so pretty in the light and her hair is so long now. She struggles a bit with the hikes, too much time to think and feel emotional. 8. On the way back we were on the opposite side of the Lagoon to Optimus so I took a pic. Can you spot him? 9. I love weekends. No pressure have internet connection every second or worry about emails. It’s great!!
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Day 43 – Morgan’s Bay 1. We have a knack for doing stupid things that usually involve hiking. Hiking so late we end in the dark, walking passed dead whales to a lighthouse you can’t even visit and today walking around rocky coastline to an incredible lagoon beach without realizing that the tide was coming up. The kids were really worried about not making it but even though I’m seriously not a water fan, I wasn’t worried. Weird. But thankful I didn’t stress as Ri stressed enough for all of us. 2. That family photo was taken just after we got back to the car, it’s funny that we’re all smiling, although I think that might just have been relief haha. 3. The morning was slow with us reevaluating our time lines. We need to get back to CT in Dec for a special wedding and to see family, so we can’t risk taking too long to get up the coast. The distance from here to Hole In The Wall is about 4 hours, but our aim to go between here to Cebe River, Dwesa and then Bulungula would take something like 12 with obvs tripling the petrol we use too. I’m sad but we’ve decided to cut it out and go straight there. I am relieved about not having to drive on those roads though. 4. Double Mouth at Morgan’s Bay is just beautiful. Just make sure to go at low tide haha. 5. We bought the prettiest hammock at the Yellowwood market and set it up today. 6. Been here 3 nights already and this is the first time we’ve managed to actually braai and chill here for the evening. Other days we have been out for supper or it’s been raining so hard we were holed up inside. It was nice to chill outside in the warmer weather. 7. We’ve had some spiders (most smallish but still too big for comfort, with some rain spiders outside the van) but this evening we had two massive flying things enter the van and now I’m wanting to just set the whole thing on fire before running home.
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Day 44 – Morgan’s Bay to Coffee Bay 1. We woke up knowing we needed to get to the Coffee Bay area but didn’t have a place to go. Our desired backpackers outside of Coffee Bay was full for tonight so we decided we’d just go with one in the town. Even though I know many people have said that CB is not necessarily worth a visit because of the petty crime and stuff. We did it anyway because sometimes we like to decide for ourselves and also necessity pushes decisions. 2. I never call people to make reservations but today I did, needing an answer before we left MB. Thank goodness I did, we needed that number a couple of hours later. 3. We drove for about 6 hours. Although it felt like 83637. We listened to A Wrinkle In Time which is a great book. I’m hooked. 4. We stopped just outside of Komga for petrol and a food fill up. It’s apparently where my (great?) grandfather is from – useless side note for you. 5. About 20 minutes outside of Coffee Bay disaster struck. Quite literally my worst anticipated nightmare of this adventure. Seth pulled over because the van just wouldn’t go anymore. It was easily because of the million potholes we’d tried to dodge but landed in anyway. It was getting dark and we’d just passed through the Zithelele township 6. I think the Eastern Cape may get a worse wrap than it deserves. We had a few concerned people stop to help us which really helps to restore faith in humanity again! 7. As soon as we realised Optimus was not going to go again and that there is no way in heck my Figo could tow it, I called the backpackers we were planning on staying at here in CB. They organized a mechanic and drove out to help us. The mechanic got Optimus driving again and we made it to the backpackers. I am so beyond grateful to the guys at @sugarloafbackpackers for helping us. You guys are awesome. Thank you! 8. If any of you pass through here and need a place to stay or eat, look them up. We had burgers, pizza and pastas for supper and they were delish. 9. Now that the worst has happened I actually feel more prepared to keep going. Is that weird? Maybe. But it just proved to me that we don’t have to stress over these things. It will work out.