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From Kei Mouth to Gonubie ...
Strandloper Hiking Trail
Many years ago, the nomadic Khoi and Gonaqua herders and hunter-gatherers Ė the Strandlopers - patrolled the coastline between Kei Mouth and Gonubie, near East London in the Eastern Cape.
These days modern Strandlopers follow in their footsteps. The trail still leads them over silver beaches and high cliffs, but nowadays they can also rest and eat at one of the many hotels along the way.
The Strandloper Trail leads hikers over silver beaches and high cliffs with panoramic views, but it also allows for the luxury of delicious meals at the hotels situated along the way on the beach-side.
The first day takes the hiker through steamy patches of relic milkwood coastal forest and onto the soft sand of the Kei Mouth beach. The distance is 8.75km. Hikers can walk through the village of Kei Mouth to see the ĎLook Outí and the ferry.
To get a taste of the modern Strandloper life, hikers can visit the Kei Sands Hotel or the Kei Mouth Beach Hotel to get something to eat.
The overnight destination is called the Pumphouse and is an extraordinary bunker-type building on the rocks at Cape Morgan and even has its own swimmingpool - hikers style, of course.
It once housed the noisy diesel engines that fed the seawater up a steep hill to the mine. Now the engines are silent and hikers can sleep beside a tangle of rusty pipes on 12 bunks.
The second day of the trail is a short, with only 6km to cover. This allows hikers to enjoy a delicious breakfast at Morgan Bay or to stay and enjoy a pub lunch. From the hotel, the trail leads along the fringe of Morbay Cliffs (60-metre-high dolorite pillars) to Double Mouth.
Itís a pristine place with dense forests of coastal red milkwoods, Natal wild bananas and a gaggle of birds. Here the hikers overnight in two adjoining huts with 6 bunks each and can treat themselves using the caravan parkís ablutions, not very far away.
Day three consists of a morning section of 8.5km to Haga haga, where the Santo Esperitu was wrecked. Many pieces of porcelain and Carnelian beads can still be found in the sand. The next stretch is 5km to the overnight stop at BosbokStrand.
Delicious pub meals are available at Haga Hotel. There is also a shop at Haga. It is important to watch the tides at Double Mouth. If it is not low tide, itís better to walk 100 m upstream and to cross the river there.
Another lengthy day awaits. Day four takes hikers 13.5km from Bosbokstrand to Beacon Valley. Walk past Cintsa East where lunch can be taken at shop/restuarant or a little further along stop at the Cintsa Bay shop about 3.5km before the overnight hut at beacon valley.
On the last lap to Gonubie, 14.5km hikers can treat themselves for the last time with a late breakfast at Knights Arms (Glen Navar) - approximately one & half hour from Cintsa past Queensberry Bay, there are two stiles on the beach and there is a sign "Knights Arms".
The last obstacle will be crossing the Gonubie River, after which the hikers must provide their own transport back to Morgan Bay.
The trail starts at the Kei Mouth Ecotourism Centre, but the keys to the huts must be collected at the Morganís Bay Beach Hotel.
The overnight facilities all take a maximum of 12 people. Hiking can also be done the conventional way by taking along your own food.
The Strandloper trail is a most extraordinary trail with a curious mixture of comfort and hardships.
For bookings please contact:
Strandloper Ecotourism Board
P.O.Box 86, Kei Mouth, 5260, South Africa
Tel/Fax: +27 43 841 1046, Cell: +27 83 285 4773
Acknowledgements: Encounter South Africa