Mar 29, 2010

Memories: Seaside Trip to Illovo and Surrounding Areas

I think it was in 2004 that I went on a trip to Kwazulu-Natal with my then-boyfriend, Roald. His parents went camping in Illovo every year with their caravan. That year, they had invited him and I and of course his brother to go with them. They even got an extra tent for me to sleep in so I'll have my privacy. How nice? Yeah, I guess. The memories I have of that holiday are pretty vague but I can tell you that I DO remember the places we went to and the things we saw. And of course some things we did as well... =) He took me on a trip up and down the coast over a course of about 3 or 4 days, if I remember correctly.

Some of the places were Balito, Umdloti, Amanzimtoti, Shelly Beach, Uvongo, Scottburgh, Hibberdene, Port Shepstone, Margate, Port Edward, Umkomaas, Ramsgate and of course Illovo. Beautiful places I can tell you that! Each with its own unique South African charm to it. It was December summer holidays so of course there were lots of places to visit and lots of vacationers everywhere. All the places were busy and very humid, as Natal is known to be.

At Illovo... we didn't go to the beach that often, as the sand there was extremely hot and very fine. No escaping it. We spent a lot of time at the resorts pools though. Playing volleyball in the pool with random people, drinking cocktails and lounging in the sun. There was also this adorable tea-garden close by that made delicious lunches... We even went to eat at the grand hotel around the corner one night when the had the most divine Buffet spread. The hotel, of course, have unbelievable air cons inside, so it's very comfortable. But once you set foot outside the air con swinging doors, it feels like someone just through a very hot duck-down comforter over you and expects you to cuddle in high temperatures when you want to rip your clothes off.
Side Note: DO NOT attempt to do the hanky panky on this beach... Bad idea. I got sand in places I didn't know I had!

At Balito... we walked around in the myriad of little shops along the seashore and spent some time in a cute little cocktail bar overlooking the beach. We went swimming there, of course. In Balito, they have a little Tidal Pool where the kids usually swim because it's safer, it looks like a swimming pool during low tide. But on this particular day there was almost nobody there. It was heavenly. And quite romantic if I remember correctly...
Side Note: Doing the hanky panky in sea water is more interesting than you may think.

The day we went to Shelly Beach was a bit of a rainy day so we spent our time in the mall and a restaurant. Amanzimtoti was the same... but I'm going there this weekend again so I'll def report on that when I get back! =D

I practically grew up in
Umdloti so I didn't let him miss that pit stop. I love Umdloti. It's like a serene little town in the middle of nowhere. Or that's how it always felt for me. My family used to have a holiday home in Umdloti, but my grandparents sold it a couple of years back. I WASN'T impressed. As you might imagine. Some of my most treasured childhood memories involve Umdloti. Roald and I didn't spend much time there, but we did get ourselves a cold drink and took a walk on The beach. I just couldn't resist. We even went exploring on the rocks. Not for long though, as the tide was coming in. It's amazing how much smaller the place had gotten since I was a little girl. Makes sense though, I was much smaller in size. As well as the fact that some pretty big Equinox Waves hit Umdloti at some point after my childhood, of course. The beaches are literally much smaller now than it used to be. Disturbing really.
Side Note: The 'Beach Beach Shop' by the tidal pool is AWESOME and the restaurant next door makes delicious pizza!

We drove through Margate and Ramsgate one day and stopped at the famous Pistols Saloon & Wild West Museum to have some lunch. And is this place nice?? Wow, I really enjoyed it and I remember it 'till today! The food is great, the music is great and the service is fast and reliable. I also remember there being a donkey that would just walk into the pub and steal your beer. (Which would be replaced for you, of course). As well as an ostrich and a huge pot-belly pig who already looked drunk and passed out. I can't wait to check it out again someday!

Uvongo was one of my favorite pit stops. The main beach is in the little alcove where a river and a small little waterfall flows into the ocean. The pool where the waterfall falls into is big, dark and beautiful. Very mysterious as well. But there were people everywhere. I found the waterfall pool extremely interesting and didn't even spend time in the waves that day... Roald and I floated around together for hours on end.
Side Note: Do Not try and check how deep the waterfall pool is... I don't think your breath is long enough. It's REALLY, REALLY deep.

"South Africa's spectacular Drakensberg escarpment is a 200-kilometre-long world heritage site which stretches from the north western border of Kwazulu Natal to the Tugela Region in the south. Originally referred to as the "Dragon Mountains" by early settlers, to the Zulu's living in the east the rock formation resembled a row of spears so they called it 'Ukhahlamba', meaning Barrier of Spears. Today, it is affectionately known to locals as the 'Berg'. "

After our seaside stay, we all headed to the spectacular Drakensberg Range where we stayed in the caravan and myself in my tent once again. The second day there, Roald and I went for a walk into the reserve. It's absolutely awe-inspiring, believe me! Thing is, we didn't actually prepare for a very long walk. We were dressed in our swimming costumes and some clothes thrown over it. We had one towel with us and we were wearing flip-flops. Bad idea. Believe me. We ended walking miles and miles and miles that day. I'm not kidding!

We went up with what they called the crack in the mountain and down what they called the Mud-Slide. It was an extremely strenuous hike for us today, especially the way we were dressed. We had no water bottles or food with us and ended up drinking the ice-cold, fresh water of the mountain streams we found. We took a swim here and there and even a shower under a waterfall. I was almost hysterical that day, going down a cliff with only a rope-ladder and nothing to support me and sliding down muddy rocks and walking miles up and down HUGE hills. Roald and I had a fight or two. But in the end, it was so Magical... Roald was really supportive and helped me everywhere he could. He made it special and he even made me stronger to endure all of that. I think back now... and I'll do it over any day I can! It was awesome!

Of course, once we got back to the campsite we were STARVING. His parents left to go back home that day and we ended up staying another night, sharing the tent they left us =D ... We went to the only shop we could find close by and bought ourselves some chicken, buns, charcoal and firelighters. We had a Weber Grill in his car and ended up braai'ing (BBQ) the chicken and eating it on the buns, with just a bit of Ketchup. Heehee! Turned out to be tons of fun though.

Later that night, with no light for us to see with whatsoever, it started raining and we just cuddled up until morning. It was amazing, strange enough. Lying in the dark, most likely with insects everywhere, but not worrying one bit, listening to the sounds of raw nature and the soft rain... Sore and tired (from the previous day's 'exercise') we headed back home the following day. On our own time, of course.

No comments: