My quest around the South African coastline continued from Cape Agulhas with one of the longest beaches in the southern hemisphere; Struisbaai. It’s a beautiful, fairly unspoiled stretch of beach which ends in spectacular fashion with the sandstone formations and limestone sea caves at Waenhuiskrans, Arniston.
From here I traversed another long stretch of pristine coastline. I had a special up-close encounter with an enormous eland bull and was bombarded by an angry mob of caspian terns after I had accidentally staggered too close to their breeding area.
It took two days to reach the De Hoop Nature Reserve and the Whale Trail. To my surprise there were no trailists on the route. Sure, it was out of season to see whales, but the trail is so magnificent I would encourage people to do it regardless. The rock formations are unbelievable and the snorkelling magical.
When the trail ended things got rough. It’s the same terrain, but with no path to follow. I managed to find some tracks made by baboons, but these only took me so far before the thick vegetation forced me down the cliffs back to sea level. The going was slow and painful over the rocks. After an excruciating 10 hours I covered just 15 km.
I couldn’t bare the thought of another day like that and to my relief I found a gravel road which lead me all the way to Infanta. The Breede River, between Infanta and Witsand, is known for Zambezi sharks – and big ones at that. The largest Zambezi ever caught was hauled in here. Fortunately I was offered a lift across the river by one of the few permanent residents in Infanta.
After Witsand I had a tough mental struggle. I was physically tired and this was affecting my state of mind as well. The difficult thing about this expedition is constantly having to motivate myself. But the beauty about this expedition is that just when I need it most the human spirit steps in to help out. Between Witsand and Gouritsmond I was taken in by three sets of complete strangers that I happened to come across. Some real food, a comfortable bed and some conversation are such a boost to the psyche. The people I have encountered along the way are what have made this journey so worthwhile.
One of these then-strangers, now-friends, organised yet another boat across a big river for me. The Gourits is not to be taken lightly, so I was glad to have a dry and safe passage across. This was also the scene for a rather important milestone. Having estimated that I would walk a total distance of about 3200 km, reaching the 1600 km mark near Gouritsmond meant I was roughly halfway.
The next day saw me hit a new distance record, covering 38 km. After having already walked 24 km in the day, I started the 14 km Cape St Blaize trail after 4pm. I finally staggered around the point into Mossel Bay at 20:30, precisely 12 hours after I started that morning. Later on I was told I had in fact completed the entire three day Oystercatcher Trail in one day.
It was time for a much needed break.
Day 100 – Day 117 summary: 432 417 steps, 263.7 km
Total: 2 453 899 steps, 1671.5 km