So, continuing with my Bazbus journey along the south coast of Africa I came to The Sunshine Coast, the section the leads from the Garden Route past Port Elizabeth and joins the Wild Coast in the east.
I think it officially starts at Storms River, which was just something we passed over (I had made some friends at Wild Spirit who were driving me) on route to Jeffreys Bay. J-Bay is the home of big waves, big beaches and big surf brands (along with their factory shops) Chilling out at Island Vibe Backpackers was a great experience, lots of cool surfer types, without the arrogance or machismo of Australian surf hot spots, and lots of common or garden backpackers as well. While the weather still wasn’t perfect, the waves were pretty good, so a quick surf was obligatory. It was also nessecary to make the most of the excellent shopping, although more for the girls. Again, travelling with musicians meant lots of Jams and sing-a-longs in the evenings.
We took a trip up to Addo Elephant Park one day, an excellent choice. As ‘locals’ we got in for a very reasonable price, and picked up some supplies. The rest of the day was spent watching the others slowly get drunk while chasing about the place looking for cool things to see. Unfortunately we didn’t see any Lions, Leopards, Buffalos or Rhinos, but we got very close with a few Elephants at one point. Up close those things are pretty scary, and these are the wildest I’ve come in contact with, Thai elephants are a lot more used to human contact.
Back to J-Bay then jumping on the Bazbus again to head to Port Elizabeth. Having not heard good things about this city, I just stayed the one night in Island Vibe and moved on first thing – The Bazbus timetable means you arrive late and leave early. Certainly this seemed to be the atmosphere in the hostel, lots of people just waiting.
And so, on route to the Wild Coast, I jumped off at East London to wait for my transfer up to Hogsback. Waiting at Sugarshack hostel I got a nice feeling. While quiet (there wasn’t anyone but me and the staff there) it had a very cool building, a little old and run down, but functional and cool. The sun tower, with sofa overlooking the whole beach was a great addition, all it needed was more backpackers!
The trip up to Hogsback is long, but once you get halfway, it’s very pretty. Hogsback is a town sitting at the top of a ridge of mountains somewhat inland from the coast, it feels more like jungle than you might expect, with dense forests all around. The hostel Away With The Fairies is exactly what you might expect with a name like that. Run by friendly hippies it’s a very free place. Food is cooked each night, and a campfire started, which was very welcome in the surprising cold. The coolest thing is perhaps the bathtub placed at the edge of the cliff nearby, meaning you can have a nice soapy bath with the best view you’ve ever seen from a tub.
There’s plenty of walking options, so pick up the hand-drawn and vaguely accurate map from reception and go exploring. If you want you can take one of the dogs with you, although pick up a leash for them if you do. I didn’t have any choice, the chap just followed me the whole way, but he knew his way better than I did.
Transferring back down again, I re-joined the Bazbus and headed towards the Wild Coast.