Saturday, 22 October 2011

SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 19. East London to Port St Johns.

View 19th Sept: East London to Port St Johns in a larger map

I had never been to or through the Transkei before and so was really looking forward to this next part of our riding 'adventure'.

We headed out of East London and made our way from Bunkers Hill to the N2. It was another lovely day although a little cool. But that was fine. I suppose I could have said the weather was fine but that was cool.

East London from Bunkers Hill.

Approaching the Kei River.

 What river is this?

Having crossed the Kei River there was an almost immediate change to the feel of the country. There was a more African atmosphere and physical aspect now as viewed from the road. I was very happy to be here and thoroughly enjoyed the rustic beauty of the hills, the horizons and the huts.

The Transkei is very beautiful.

Mthatha (or Umtata as it was formerly called) was interesting, jam-packed with people, markets and traffic. It was chaotic in a very endearing sense. We pulled in at a petrol station for fuel and a coffee. Also I popped into a shop for some AA batteries for my trusty Garmin 76Cx which, like the motorbikes, was also demanding a power source.


The plan was to ride to Port St Johns for a look-see and also for a nightstop. At Mthatha we turned off the N2 onto the R61 and headed for PStJ.

An old bridge on the R61 east of Mthatha.

Eventually we rolled into Port St Johns which is situated on the Wild Coast on the Indian Ocean. And the coast is wild. Wild in an impressive no non-sense love me or hate me way. I loved it (of course), but we did not have much success at the little i office where we sought information about somewhere to stay for the night. In fact Mike had gone into the Information Office while I remained with the motorbikes and also entertained some little local people who had just been released from school lessons for the day. They were taking an interest in the motorcycles.

Just outside of Port St Johns.

Mike came out of the office armed with the phone numbers of a handful of guest houses. But the rates quoted were higher than we were prepared to pay. We decided to get on the motorbikes and ride around in search of a place. 

Port St Johns is very African..... but this is AFRICA!

We decided to ride around and look for a place to stay ......

It wasn't long before we found somewhere good. It was just a few hundred metres away and it was perfect for our requirements. Two single en-suite rooms were available at R275 each including breakfast. The place is called the Outspan Inn.

 ..... we found this place. Very good too.

Reception this way ...

Our rooms were on the top story. Excellent.

This is the view from where the motorbikes were parked.

The place is in need of a teeny bit of TLC, but it was clean, comfortable, roomy, friendly and had plenty of boiling hot water. Also we were able to park the bikes near the rooms at the back.

After a hot shower etc., we recce'd the town. It was not pretentious and would not have looked out of place had it been transplanted in Nigeria or Ghana - very African, busy, bustling, chaotic, characterful and full of life. People and taxis everywhere. Markets and street vendors. Coming and going. To-ing and fro-ing. It was very interesting.

Mike and I walked on the dusty roads towards the river and found The Fish Eagle which was a likely looking place for dinner. It was too early for a meal, but we checked the place out and had a beer there. It seemed perfectly okay, so we made a reservation for a little later in the evening.

At around 19h00 we walked back to The Fish Eagle and had a very pleasant evening. The meals were good as was the ambience - semi al fresco - and the company; we bumped into two young guys who happened to be staying at the Outspan Inn too. These fellows work for Escom and were in Port St Johns in the course of their duties. They were good company and they gave us a ride back to the B&B.

It was a good day again.

Distance Today: 316 km. 196 miles.
Trip Distance: 5 420 km. 3 368 miles.

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