Coffe Bay – Hiking, Jumping and Magic
After leaving Port Shepstone, Claire and I made our way to Coffee Bay. This little coastal town is on the Wild Coast, a piece of South African coastline that is famed for its rugged beauty. And the cliffs and beaches around Coffee Bay most certainly do live up to the expectations. We arrived at The Coffee Shack, a friendly, social backpackers that was full of people from all different places. During our stay at the Shack we met up with James and Shane, the guys we met at Port Shepstone, again and we also made friends with a really cool couple from Australia called Meg and Bryce and a nice girl from Holland called Judith.
After a nice evening socialising we awoke the next morning feeling fresh and ready for the day’s adventure. It was Claire’s birthday, so to celebrate we’d booked ourselves on the day’s excursion. Joined by a bunch of others, including Judith, Meg and Bryce, we set off with our guide to the cliff tops of a surrounding village. The hike took us across varied terrain from rolling coastal hills to stunning cliff tops that looked out for miles at the ocean. Within the first few minutes of the walk we stopped to stare down at the beach that was sitting about a hundred metres below, when someone spotted dolphins. A pod of around five or six dolphins were swimming out at sea, racing along parallel to the coast.
After making our way down a big hillside to sea level, we started our trip around the coast. This involved clambering over rocks, up and down cliffs, and through caves. We were walking high up above sheer drops at points, and at others we were dodging the raging spray of the ocean as we made our way around bends in the coastline, with our backs tight against the wall to stay as far away from the water as possible. We walked through some incredible caves that cut their way through the cliffs and even walked down one that was gigantic and ended in a pitch black dead end.
After scrambling up some large cliff face, we’d made it to the cliff jump. We were all sat about seven metres up looking down at a small groove between the rocks where the ocean was racing around as the waves came in. ‘Where do you jump?’ asked one of our group. The guide pointed at the water below and said ‘there.’
‘Are there any rocks?’ asked the potential jumper.
‘There are some,’ replied the guide pointing at one spot of water. ‘About there.’
That was when I decided that I’d rather watch the others. ‘About there’ wasn’t clear enough for me. I wanted to be able to see the rocks that I had to avoid, as opposed to having to simply avoid a vague patch of ocean. Turns out most of the others took the cautious decision and watched as the guide and two others made the jump. Afterwards we made our way back up the cliff and headed through the rolling hills of countryside once again. After another half an hour or so of walking and climbing, involving one bit of walking over a narrow pathway with a sheer drop on either side, we finally made it to the second jump of the day. This one, however, was into a calm river as opposed to the white, choppy, raging ocean of the Wild Coast. But whilst the jump had a much more appealing end to it, the starting point seemed a metre or two higher than the previous one. This time, I did manage to make it up and make the jump. Claire also managed to make it up – twice – but both times couldn’t bring herself to jump off. It was her birthday so she was allowed to avoid the jump if she wanted. Though on the way back she did say that she was worried that her fear of jumping indicated that she was ‘getting old’.
After a nice lunch we all made our way back to the backpackers where we could enjoy the rest of our day. As a birthday treat we’d booked Claire in to get a massage with the lady who runs a parlour next door to where we were staying. I said goodbye and sat down for a beer, whilst Claire went away to get the treatment.
‘How was it?’ I asked when Claire made it back. She shrugged. ‘Was it not good?’ I asked again.
‘It was OK’ she said with another shrug. ‘A bit weird. I think she did Reiki on me.’ I laughed.
Apparently she spent some time massaging Claire’s back, before moving on to the reiki. For those of you who don’t know about reiki, it is essentially a method of alternative treatment where the person channels their energy into your body, without touching you, in order to heal ailments. It’s essentially magic healing, and is clearly nonsense. We didn’t book Claire in for magic treatment, we booked her in for an hours massage. Not fifty minutes of massage topped off with ten minutes of magic. I wanted to go back and complain, but decided against it. She might have put a curse on me. ‘I thought it was going to be weird,’ continued Claire, ‘when I noticed the certificates for crystal healing on the wall’.
How on earth do you get a certificate for crystal healing? What organising body is authorised to hand out crystal healing certificates of authenticity. If I wanted to get into crystal healing, I’d just print out my own – it’s hardly proof that you’ve passed the Bar Exam.
And, to make things worse, Claire came away from the experience with a bad back! This magic woman had left her with an ailment. That was the opposite of what was she was after. I felt bad. Claire’s birthday present was essentially a bad back and an hour in the company of a magic crystal healer.
That evening we spent hours sat around the camp fire with thirty or so other backpackers listening to cool music and watching local dancers, whilst drinking a fair amount. It was Claire’s birthday after all. Spirits were high, and although Claire had had a weird hour at the massage place, it was a great day.
The next morning was a beautiful day. The sun was shining down and it was nice and hot. So, Claire and I made our way to the beach with Meg, Bryce, Judith and Jamie for a day chilling on the sand. When we arrived Jamie and I played some football on the sand for thirty seconds before we were joined by two kids. Thirty minutes later we were in a full sized match with a huge number of local guys. Every two minutes or so another two or three guys would come running over and the game got bigger and bigger. The only downside was that as the teams got larger, the pitch kept getting smaller. The tide was coming in fast. Every minute or so the goals had to be moved further and further away and the river that was running down the side of the pitch began encroaching on the edge. Eventually it all became too much and the game came to an end.
Coffee Bay was a really nice spot on the coast. We got to see the monstrous beauty of the Wild Coast in all of its glory. The sheer cliff faces, and turbulent seas, were dramatic and the beaches, whilst not pristine, were still fantastic. After three days at the Coffee Shack, where we had a really great time, we made our way up the coast to the town of Cinsta. Much more developed and built up than Coffee Bay, we spent a few days chilling out enjoying the beach there before taking the next step on our trip.