We got picked up from Port Elizabeth early and after a morning on the bus, with bus driver handing out free food to various people from the townships along the way which was quite sweet, we arrived at Cintsa. Cinsta was a tiny little town which was basically made up of a sprawling hostel with rooms in cabins, spread out over a hill overlooking the beach, and a few houses and shops the other side of the beach which you had to walk over the beach to get to, and in the sea when the tide was in!
We checked into our room which was in a cabin right near the beach and was pleased to find no one else was in our cabin so we had it all to ourselves. It had it's own bathroom, kitchen, dining area and patio so was lovely to have our own space.
Once we'd sorted our stuff out we went off in hunt of some supplies to stock the kitchen for a few days. The only shop was on the other side of the village, so we walked over sand dunes and the beach by lagoon and found a tiny little 'supermarket' which sold basically nothing but managed to get enough bits to cobble some meals together and make do.
The hostel was doing killer pool in the bar when we got back, handily with free wine, so although I'm useless at pool we thought it would be a good way to meet people and start the evening off and joined in. After a few games people started disappearing and those that were left were more interested in the wine than the pool so it quickly changed into an afternoon of getting battered! :-) A bit later on when everyone started ordering dinner we went back to the cottage to make ourselves some pasta and while chatting to Grant (and too drunk to notice he had shut the patio doors) I managed to walk right into the glass doors and smashing my face into the glass of wine that I was holding! A few bloody scratches mopped up later and we were back to bar for more drinks and loads of chatting to random people, it was a really good night and we finally got bed about midnight.
The next morning we were up early (hang over and all), for an interaction with cheetahs experience which was really cool. We got picked up and driven to a private game park near by where we were introduced to 3 cheetahs that had been rescued and rehabilitated to be released back into the wild, but they were tame enough that they let us to pat and stroke them while they purred like cats (not surprising as they are cats!) They kept rolling over to get more strokes on their belly but I thought they were going to take me out with their long legs and big claws!! It was a lovely thing to do.
After our cuddles with Cheetahs we headed back to our cottage to sit in the sun on our veranda reading a book and napping the hang over off for a few hours.
In the afternoon we had arranged to meet some of the local workers we had met the night before, at an organised sports kids event in a nearby township. When we got there we discovered it was being run by lots of British and American volunteers who were in Africa teaching kids for the summer. The kids were really cute, wanting to hold your hand, all dirty and snotty (lovely!). There was about 10 volunteers including us and about 20 kids and we were split into 3 groups for football, netball and rounders. Grant went off to play football, and I, still being quite hung over, opted for rounders thinking it would be the easy option. Luckily I was right as most of the time I was just standing at second base where no balls were hit, and my only job was to encourage the kids who ran pass me or stopped at my base. It was good to do something different, not many tourists get to do things like that, it was only because we had wormed our way in with the workers the day before! It was nice to feel like you were doing something good for the kids too.
Dinner that night was a Mexican buffet party organised by the hostel which gave us a chance to be a bit more sociable before hiding in the the common room on the internet then back to our room and in bed by 9pm! Hardcore! :-)
In the morning we checked out and waited for the baz bus to pick us up and take us to Mthatha where we were being picked up by a hostel shuttle to Port St Johns, our next stop. The journey was a lot longer than we expected as the bus arrived about an hour late, and then when we got to Mthatha the transfer turned out to be the hostel owners dad, who was driving a small car already packed with stuff, and it took us a while to work out how to fit us and our luggage in the car for the hour and a half journey to the hostel! The guy was a lovely old ex pat so when we were eventually on our way it was nice chatting to him about his experiences in south Africa.
The hostel was quite funky, with massive wooden structures as bunk beds, and a fire pit bar area. It even had its own pet donkey!
When we finally arrived, we chilled in the bar (with a free drink because of all the kerfuffle with the car!) and had dinner chatting to Bob the ex pat. The hostel was obviously a popular nightlife spot with the locals as there were lots of people about, some of them with those ropes with the fire on the end and they were swirling around themselves. We sat by the fire pit, watching the entertainment and trying to learn how to hoola hoop (its harder than I remember from being a kid!) before eventually heading to bed. Despite it being a party hostel with people coming and going all night we actually managed to get a good night's sleep.
In the morning we were up early to have breakfast and then headed out on a hike through the jungle with a tour guide from the hostel and a south African couple that were also staying there. It was a nice day, the walk was long but not too hard which was nice and took us past beautiful jungle scenery and a waterfall. We had a braai lunch on some rocks near some water and sat chatting about our different lives.
In the late afternoon the same group went to watch the sunset from the top of a mountain with a beautiful view of the whole valley and the lovely long river that runs into the sea. The guide took some beers for us (they call it sun downers, sunset and beers are quite a big thing in South Africa). We got on really well with the South African couple so once we were back at the hostel we all had dinner together and watched the evening entertainment they had on, kids doing a traditional dance whilst adults sang along and then a band (supposedly quite famous!) singing random african songs. After our late night the day before we weren't really feeling up to a big night so after the band tried for a relatively early night, which unfortunately didn't really work out as the dorm was so noisy, including some random girl talking to herself, or perhaps one of the hostel cats, we couldn't work out what she was doing, but she kept us awake for ages with her antics!
In the morning we checked out and waited for our taxi transfer that had been ordered by the hostel. We were expecting a normal taxi but when it arrived it turned out to be a local mini bus taxi, that not only picked us up but also picked up every local along the way that wanted to get in, whether there was room or not!! The taxi was crammed with people, some standing up and one guy with a live chicken in a plastic bag!! Hilarious! A tyre even burst along the way, i'm sure not helped by the amount of weight in the bus, and some of the locals jumped out and patched it back together while the rest of us sat in the bus stunned by our eventful journey, listening to them shouting at each other. We were eventually made it to the bus stop and got on the baz bus for a 5 hour drive to Umzumbe.
Umzumbe is a tiny place, with pretty much nothing there apart from the hostel. The hostel itself was pretty funky tho, it was built to look like it was in the jungle, with trees and wooden paths everywhere. We were staying in a tree house that was built about 10 meters above the ground, it was quite freaky but cool! It even had its own bathroom.
We had beer in the bar then went to straight to bed after our long day, just in time for it to piss down with rain just as we got in. I thought the tree house was either going to flood or the wind was going to knock it down!! Once I'd inspected the place and realised it was going to survive the rain, it was quite relaxing listening to the rain hit the tree house roof and we drifted off to sleep quite easily.
The next day we had planned to do nothing but chill out in the hostel. We had a nice lie in and then read books while lying in a hammock on the veranda. We met a couple from Birmingham in the kitchen and struck up a good conversation with them, eventually all sitting down in the common room to watch a few films and eat dinner, it was a nice relaxing day.
In the morning we checked out but had the whole day to fill as the bus wasn't picking us up until 8pm. We organised a hike to a waterfall with a guide from the hostel and a guy who was taking photos for the hostel website also tagged along. It was a really good day. The hike wasn't hard so it was just a long walk chatting to locals really! The guide told us he hadn't worn shoes for 2 years and did the hike in bare feet, over rocks and down jungle paths! It was strange how his feet had adapted, you could see toes worked like fingers clinging onto the rocks as he walked, random!
After the walk we stopped at a suspension bridge, it was about 120m above a ravine and about 30 meters long, pretty scary to walk on! It looked pretty stable but I was still gripping on for dear life as I walked over it!
When we got back to the hostel we just had time for a quick shower and some dinner before being picked up by baz bus and driven to Durban....