My time at Kenton-on-Sea/Bushmans and Cape Town limited; the reason I headed back to South Africa was a prelude to visiting Windhoek for my friend Sylvia’s wedding, meaning my stop in South Africa was to pass the time and spend Christmas with my mom. It started of in Cape Town, I had three things to do and three days get them done! Firstly, I needed a suit for the wedding, preferably a Summer suit, something that seemed like I was speaking Greek when asking around the V&A Waterfront. Secondly, I needed a new camera. Thirdly, I was starting to resemble a hippy or homeless person, a haircut was in order too.
Found a suit, needed some minor alterations which they would do, I’d pick it up when next in Cape Town just before I fly to Windhoek, at least that was sorted, next camera. I walked and asked around for cameras not with much success, range was limited. Finally, I was directed to a proper camera shop, they didn’t have what I wanted sooooo I upgraded to a Fujifilm X-T2 (I’ll change my gear section to reflect this now that I’ve used it enough). I hadn’t planned on spending so much, there was a little buyer’s remorse afterwards…a few months later I admit the photos are great, but the weight and size hmmmm, jury’s still out.
Third thing on my list was a haircut, I don’t fuss about my hair at all but didn’t want to get to the wedding looking like an idiot! I don’t know Cape Town well so contact an old friend who seems to know everyone, especially in the hair stylist industry in South Africa, Craig Hopkins (who used to cut my hair when I was still living in South Africa), he recommended I contact some people at Scar Hair. I’m not one to talk about fashion etc., really not my cup of tea, I’m making an exception on this occasion. Scar is the coolest hair salon I’ve ever been to, I was sold when they were playing the Pixies when I arrived ?, the place has an awesome vibe, friendly professional service and I cannot lie it was the best hair cut I’ve had in years!!! The lady that cut my hair was pretty hot too….that was just the cherry on top!
Of course I walked around Cape Town, I won’t add much about that, I covered that ground in my previous post (still plenty more to see in Cape Town I know), one thing I cannot remember if I included in my previous posts, Cape Town has great coffee! From here I’m jumping forward to my time in the Eastern Cape, more specifically Kenton-on-Sea. Before there I attended my friend’s wedding in Windhoek (I’m going to do a separate blog about Windhoek) and spent Christmas with my mother.
I’d never been to the Eastern Cape let alone Kenton-on-Sea (a.k.a Bushmans), from an outsider it is perceived as the poorer cousin of the Western Cape, that is my view. I should have known better, many of my friends have been going there every year for years, some even generations! Even so, after who knows how many invites I had never gone or been in the position to go, I’d take my chances this time and grasp the opportunity with both hands. A few of my friends were there over the December period as they always are, including Jack and Janet who immigrated there from the UK about 5 years ago; they are the parents of Sam who I have already mentioned when I wrote about Ballito, I stayed with Clayton and Sam.
It was never going to be an adventurous visit to Kenton-on-Sea/Bushmans, a detour to visit friends is always a good as is seeing a new part of South Africa, ashamedly I have not explored the whole country. I would only be there for 6 days, with no expectation except spending time with friends and seeing in the New Year with them. The first evening began with the obligatory “going out for drinks” meaning gin and crème soda….yes, sounds awful but tastes great but not the next morning! Nonetheless there were many people I hadn’t seen in many years, great night – enough with the friends’ reunion stuff!
Kenton-on-Sea is a stunning and diverse area, a secret region of the country, secret to me definitely, many others too. Over the years I could never understand why so many of my friends would trek so far when there are so many fantastic places much close…my fleeting time there answered that question without doubt. Kenton-on-Sea is no sprawling holiday destination, it has a small ocean village feel reminding me of my December holidays to Shelly Beach on the South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal. There is plenty of money here but not ostentatiously like other wealthy areas in South Africa, no, here time has slowed down to development, replaced by a simpler lifestyle. I got the feeling that many people come here to get away from the materialistic and egotistical lifestyle that city life demands, something I find as dominant traits in many parts of South Africa, not good.
Kenton-on-Sea lies between Port Elizabeth and East London, closer to the former, sits between the Bushmans and Kariega Rivers with the Indian Ocean on its other side. Wide long bone white sandy beaches stretching for kilometres in either direction, though the water is a little chilly compared to Kwazulu-Natal it doesn’t stop people swimming. The beaches compare, to any beaches I’ve been too and I was alarmed that this haven isn’t a prime destination for holiday goers from South Africa and further afield.
Dias Cross Memorial
On the 12th March 1488, Bartholomeu Dias planted a cross/padrao at this very spot as claim to finding the route from Europe to India around South Africa, the current memorial is a replica to the one he planted. Not to get into this history of the discovered route, nor the history that followed, the walk there from the entrance of the Bushmans River is around 5km an awesome walk! I think you need to go during low tide for it to be slightly shorter, also this give you the opportunity to keep right on the beach and explore the endless rock-pools. I hadn’t seen such spans of beaches in South Africa before with high dunes reminding me of my time in Egypt, how could I not know that South Africa had this to offer or heeded my friends’ invitations years sooner!! I know, all places in every country have their differences, however I really had no clue South Africa has this sort of landscape within easy reach! Dunes high enough to dune surf, not just one dune kilometres of them, with some of the cleanest beaches I have seen too.
To top our trip off from the viewpoint we spotted a school of dolphins surfing the break. Majestic creates dolphins, I’ve seen hundreds before, yet it never ceases to bring a smile to face when seeing them. Shooting through the wave face, jumping, twisting like playful children in a splash pool, I couldn’t help thinking they were having a whale of a time! We watched as they turned to the South bopping in and out of the water till they disappeared from eyesight, our key to head back home which we did with a slight skip in our step…my only regret, why hadn’t I come to this place years ago…
My time here was to see friends who I knew I would not see in a long time as I was heading off on a 8 month trip. I’ve set before in my diary that I need to make more of an effort to spend quality time with my friends and family, like many I take them for granted sometimes. On one of our day excursion, of many that Clayton, Sam and the kids (Tristan and Ella) took me on to show me the places that I had heard stories of hundreds of times, we took a drive through a public game reserve. Now I’m not sure if it is owned by the government, I don’t think so, or just some private game reserve that allows free access, either way my expectations were neutral – there are plenty of private reserves throughout this area, many exclusive. To me, even if we saw nothing the African bush only has positive nostalgic memories for me.
We saw an array of buck/gazelle and plenty of birds, wildebeest and giraffe. What stole the show of the day were two young adult male giraffes play-fighting for dominance (we guessed); the one dipping low under the other then standing back up leaving their other’s leg high on his back, he did this a few times, odd behaviour I have not seen before. This followed a few sweeping pendulum swings by each, their long necks stretch in a sweeping motion from upright to just missing the ground then accelerating back up connecting this the other’s neck – It looks like an extreme form of yoga wrestling.
New Year’s Eve was spent on the beach, it seems everyone in the area goes there to watch the standoff firework display against residents of opposite sides of the Bushmans River, our side won hands-down, apparently the first time in years! Still learning to use my new camera I would have loved to include some awesome fireworks photos….guess what, I’m still learning, the photo’s looked terrible ?!
My second-last day in Kenton-on-Sea we took a speedboat cruise (not meant as a contradiction) down the river. The whole family came alone Clayton the driver (I had to admit it, he was very good), Sam, Tristan, Ella, Jack and Janet (Sam’s parents) and Pearl (Sam’s grandmother of 87 I think), all of whom I have known for over 15 years (except the kids ? so it was great to have a friends day out. Being content with a leisurely cruise down the Bushmans river just taking in the scenery, wind blowing in my face with the occasional splash of water, sun shining and cold beer in hand, swimming in the river….it turned out to be an impromptu and spectacular river safari!
You know when the luck of the Irish is on your side when you get to see a bull elephant a few meters away, then a small herd of 6 elephant, later that day a herd of 34 elephants!!! Yes, we saw eagles, buck/gazelle etc. but elephants for their size have a remarkable skill of hiding away, a huge animal walking through the thicket as light-footed as a mouse.
We drove down the Bushmans river for a few kilometers is high spirits after seeing the magnificent mammoths, turning back home out of the blue Sam and Clayton near simultaneously called out in a shouting-whisper “LION!”. The funny thing is, is that they both it earlier going the other way but dismissed it as a log! Lying on the face of a small hill on an opening of grass patch was an adult male lion! A perfect position to look down on the valley below, his territory we guessed, or just looking at what the menu’s special was for the day. We watch for near 15 minutes in total silence, the king of the African Bush lazing about soaking up the last few rays of sun for the day, later who knows, some grocery shopping. Standing up slowly, he sauntered down the hill disappearing behind the bank of the river! A Bushmans river cruise resulting in a safari that many never get the chance to see or experience – a wonderful day with friends.
My time at Kenton-on-Sea had come to an end, I will be going back no doubt! I left in good spirits having seem my mother and friends, they were healthy and happy, what more could I ask for. Next stop was Dubai for a few days, I left Port Elizabeth for Cape Town to catch the flight to Dubai. Deep inside I was a little nervous, Dubai would be easy as I was staying for family for 5 day….my nerves were for the trip after than; Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru (a few other countries too), New York then back to Europe, 7 months – my real travels were about to begin.
…could help but add a few more pictures of Kenton-on-Sea/Bushmans!