A whimsical left turn
The Going Homeless Project finds it soul and falls deeply in love with the Eastern Cape after a left turn reveals untold beauty and hidden gems. With some mountain passes to boot.
After the beauty that is Chintsa, and the awesome that is Buccaneers I decided to head in-land towards Maclear in search of a backpacker in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t a long drive, perhaps just over a 100km and it ended up taking two days.
Before getting to the drive, I decided to spend a night at Kei Mouth, which saw me visit some sea-side hamlets – Morgan Bay and Hugga Hugga … The later being empty … literally. After an amazing cliff walk in Morgan Bay, it was on to Kei Mouth, for a walk on the beach before setting off the next morning.
After driving up the aptly named Satan’s neck, which seemed to ascend to the heavens and revealed canyons and landscapes so big framing photographs was a challenge.
At the bottom was a rather dismal town called Elliot, a mere 65km from my destination and on a whim and a left turn I discovered the Barkley Pass. Yea I had never heard of it either.
After having my mind summarily blown by the landscapes of the pass which came close to being some of the most picturesque landscapes I have ever encountered I headed into Barkley East and its predatory nature of fleecing visitors on a Sunday night. I pushed on a further 60km to Rhodes along a dirt road … the R396.
The drop in temperature (Which peaked at -13 if that makes sense?!), the sharp inclines and the fading light had me arriving after dark and finding a spot on a farm that had a fireplace and a warm bed. A quick chow and I was happy to wrap myself up warm and fall asleep having discovered a gem of a road.
The morning had other ideas as the left turn adventure was about to take me to the top of the world via South Africa’s highest dirt road pass … Naude’s Nek which summits at 2.920 metres. With each bend it just got better and better – the view was … I can’t actually think of a decent adjective it was epic, mind blowing and and and, I think you get the picture.
Nearing the summit the road was lined with muddy sections that had the van going more sideways than forward, ice and snow was abound. and before long the decent came into view and i kind wished i had worn brown pants.
As the terrain leveled and i made my way into Maclear and onto The Falls Backpackers run by the super cool Adi and Angela, it was hard not to reflect back on the 100kms that became two days, two epic drives and re-enforced that this trip is about finding the places i never intend to.
If you’re in the hood and you don’t drive the Barkley pass and Naude’s Nek … you shoulda just stayed home.