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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Milton

Bundu-Bashing and Barrel Rolls (Otter Trail Day 2)

Updated: Mar 28

Ngubu to Scott, 8km, 5 hours


Poor Talitha! I don’t snore and I think I’m pretty neat, but… I’m a morning person, and she’s a night owl! After doing my best not to disturb her, I got up in time to make coffee and oats and enjoy a quiet time on the rocks overlooking the sea as the sun rose.

Coastal sunrise with a few fluffy pink clouds in the sky
Sunrise from the rocks in front of Ngubu hut

I was so mellowed out by my quiet time that my poor insomniac hiking buddies had to wait for me while I finished packing my bag that morning. Our half of the group had agreed to get going early, but one is always a little slow in the beginning. Thankfully, by morning two or three, you’re a well-oiled machine.

Basic, schematic map showing a coastal hiking route
Basic graphic representation of the ascent and descent of the hike

After starting the day with a fairly steep ascent to the plateau, the first point of interest of the morning was Skilderkrans – a small rocky outcrop sticking out from the rest of the coastline, with large, flat expanses of rock below, set at an angle, against which the wild waves crashed. We indulged in a quick snack here and admired the strata of the coastal forest before moving on.

A rocky outcrop on a wild coastline with a hiker in the foreground
Skilderkrans

We’d read descriptions of a lovely swimming spot just above the first river crossing of the trail (well, unless you count the Jerling river on day one); so, when we came to our first bridge, Marno and I bundu-bashed upriver to look for it. After losing Marno, but gaining a few cuts from the vegetation, I decided to abandon the mission and rejoin Clifford and Dehan who were patiently waiting on the trail.

Rocky river surrounded by green forest
Kleinbos river

When we reached the Kleinbos river, we had an Aha! moment, seeing the very obvious, large, deep swimming pool – clearly visible from the trail, no bundu-bashing required. We hung up some washing in the sunshine and while waiting for the second half of the group, had our swim (some of us needing more encouragement than others).

Two people swimming in a river, one smiling and the other one pulling a funny face
Swimming is NOT Dehan's favourite activity...

Downstream from the crossing, the river was a completely different beast to upstream where we were swimming. Downstream, the swell of the waves coming in at the mouth was appreciable and gave the river a moody, slightly unnatural quality; upstream, there were deep, still eddies next to the cliffs of the kloof where foam collected undisturbed.


This was our first river crossing and although the water level was not high, one always has to be careful of foot entrapment and ankle injuries on a crossing like this. I opted to remove my shoes, roll up my shorts and put my backpack on my back to keep my hands free to stabilise myself as I crossed. Unfortunately, I’m fairly short and the very bottom of my pack did get a little wet. Fortunately, I had lined my pack, so nothing inside got wet.

Series of three pictures showing a woman crossing a river with a backpack on her back
Kleinbos river crossing

The next highlight of day two – and our lunch spot – was Bloubaai, a secluded beach well worth the minor scramble down to the coast (and back up again).

A landscape of a beautiful beach with someone swimming in the sea
Bloubaai
Close-up of a series of otter tracks in the wet sand on a beach
Otter tracks at Bloubaai

Some of us took our packs down to the beach, but it is possible to leave main packs at the top of the hill (on the main trail) and take only day packs down to the beach.


I saw my first set of tracks in the sand, this time belonging to an otter. (Wait til day four to read about the tracks we saw at the Bloukrans river! 😊 )





Some of us braved the tumbling waves for a swim, with Tim knocked off his feet and applying a unique strategy to being continuously pummelled… The tuck and roll!


After a steep climb back up to the plateau, where the wind was howling, we continued towards Scott hut, arriving fairly early and in time to do a little washing and enjoy another treat of a camp.

Landscape showing two wooden huts set in the forest next to a beautiful, rocky river mouth opening into the sea
View of Scott hut from the Geelhoutbos river mouth

The river mouth was beautiful, complete with a troop of baboons foraging peacefully. The ticks in the long grass surrounding the huts were less pleasant, but thankfully some insect repellent and a pre-bedtime tick check is all that’s needed if you encounter these little critters.


We’d done quite a bit of ascending and descending that day, with the trail regularly snaking its way up to the plateau of the coastal forest, then down to coastline, and up and down again. Dehan’s word of advice that night was to stretch. Clifford, although a water baby, regretted swimming in the sea at Bloubaai, saying the sand got everywhere… I'm fairly certain, though, that were he given the opportunity to repeat that day, he'd do it all over again: swim and all!

Woman pulling a face and pointing at the slippers of the man sitting next to her
Tim brought slippers on trail!

While Tim flaunted his interesting and indulgent packing choice (slippers!), Marno and I shared a Back Country Cuisine meal, and Bernadette attempted to braai an apple – although I can't for the life of me remember why…

 

Continue reading by moving on to Day 3.


 

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