We headed east towards the infamous surf break at Jeffreys Bay, but for once, this was the last place that we were planning on ending up. Daniel, travel photographer and general expedition leader, and I, co-pilot with snacks in tow, had one mission this afternoon – explore, find and play.
Dan and I live about half-an-hour apart, but we never miss an opportunity to catch up. It was exactly one of those catching up days when I arrived at Daniel’s spot. He waved a Google map under my nose – he had already marked all the access points, detours, and our destination. Two weeks later we were standing on the edge of sheer cliffs dropping into a valley where the river meets the ocean. I was very impressed with Dan for finding this place given the sparse information and vague description of its location. I also felt utterly privileged to be the one he asked to share in this adventure.
Our eyes lit up at the sight of the crystal-clear water below us, introduced by empty cliff faces. We marvelled at our discovery, before scampering down to play. But we were lacking a path – our first attempt took us to a look-out area; our second through an overgrown trail that abruptly ended on a small rock ledge, stopping us dead in our tracks.
After running up and down the mountain in all directions in the hope of finding even an inkling of a path, we stopped and peered across the valley – in the distance, on the other side, a path was vaguely visible. It ran from the edge of the mountain, through the forest and seemed to lead down to the water’s edge. We looked at each other: without saying a word we snapped a few shots and as one man we headed back to Roxy, our reliable and adventurous expedition vehicle. We headed further east.
It was five o’clock already. After consulting the map there were a few decisions to be made: it was getting late and we still had a some distance to cover by road and on foot in order to get to the other side. The tide was slowly but surely coming in, and that wouldn’t leave us much time to head up stream before the ocean and the river met – trapping us in the ravine.
But we are two adventurous spirits, well-prepared for our mission, and we were determined to get there today. We weren’t heading home nay time soon.
Our perseverance rewarded us in more ways than one. As we headed further east the sun’s rays went from bright white to a soft orange as it caressed the mountains behind us and shed its light on dilapidated buildings, making the graffiti on them seem to come to life. We shot a little movie in the forest, took some incredible photos of our surroundings and met with a friendly old man who didn’t seem to understand our language before we headed down to the sea – the path unfolding in front of our feet.
We made it down in time for an hour of exploration. The tide was pretty high as the ocean pushed its way through the river bed, the ocean’s water crystal clear and the water from the river as dark as the night sky. We had to discard our dry gear and backpacks at one point, only to recover them a bit later, because getting further up-river entailed quite a bit of swimming. We were surrounded by sheer cliffs, the blue sky opening up above us right before the sun shed its last light, swallows swirling all around bringing news from a world we knew nothing of. Dark, root stained river pools that hold secrets that our eyes never witness – a world of untouched, raw, magnificent beauty, a world we are eager to get back to.
We explored, we found, we played. We drove back in silence as our minds slideshowed through the day’s adventure and made us both smile with the satisfaction of a day well spent.
For now, we call it a day but we know it won’t be long before we return – next time with boards in tow!