Hi, I'm Andrew and I'm a photographer in Durban, South Africa. I work as a travel, commercial and event photographer, also offering portraiture, food, architectural and wedding photography. I also enjoy taking abstract, landscape and wildlife images. Please take a look at my portfolio, or contact me about doing a photo shoot.

chillin’ at Mtentu

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by andrewrhb No Comments

The Wild Coast!!! Those who know South Africa know the Wild Coast to be… well … wild?

Kilometres of unspoilt beaches, hundreds of rivers and waterfalls, fishing, wide open spaces, low density population, agriculture; hiking, biking and horseriding; a sense of not knowing, or caring, about time.

It is also a place of violent storms, huge seas, shipwrecks and poverty.

a view from ‘signal hill’

We took time out, and a weekend, and travelled down to Mtentu River Lodge.

A four hour drive from Durban, Ok I did speed a little on the N2 (not recommended), but patience and care is the name of the drive once one turns off the tar road. Give yourself plenty of time, preferably a 4×4 (especially if it has been raining, is raining or will rain)  and ensure that you will have spare time to arrive before sunset. Take time out to view the countryside, the rivers and waterfall that you will cross… and the people.

Pondoland paradise

 Mtentu lodge started life as a UNESCO project in the nineties, designed to promote eco tourism to the poverty stricken region of the old Transkei. It was handed over to local authorities towards the end of the nienties and quickly became run down and dilapidated.

An intrepid backbacker discovered the lodge a couple of years ago, and with vision, determination and assistance from a friend, he and the local community revived this place and have made it a not to miss location on the coast. Situated on the North bank of the Mtentu River estuary, it is a community partnership and eco friendly project.

cabin and view

The rooms are clean and comfortable, and consist of two 3/4 beds (that can be pushed together) and two large bunk beds. The lodge is a place to chill and enjoy. luxury is not the byword here and those who want haute cuisine will have to cook it themselves. The food is however delicious (in a comfort food style) and all tastes are provided for. The vegetarian in our party was well looked after and had no complaints. only praise.

Out of peak season, one can self cater, using the facilities in the lodge, but I feel that for the small change in extra cost per person, why worry.

the view from our cabin

 The staff are friendly and helpful.

What to do? Well, once again, we gave ourselves too little time to do half of what is available.

Canoeing up the Mtentu past the waterfalls, hiking, biking, horse riding, surfing (if one doesn’t worry about the sharks), chilling around the camp, lying on the beach….. For wildlife fans, the Mkambathi reserve is across the river and offers a selection of antelope and birds. A vulture colony can be found 11 kms up the river.

After dark, the pub is cheap and open (an honesty bar is in operation) and below the kitchen a ‘chill room’ has been opened. Music and relaxing are the name of the game. A guitar and drums have been supplied for those musically (or brave enough to try) inclined.

an isolated beach…. not a kilometer from the lodge

 The lodge does not receive reception for cel phones, and one has to walk up to the top of ‘signal hill’ (there are so many signal hills in Africa) hop up an down on one’s left leg and hope to get a connection…. 

An ideal place for back packers and those who enjoy ‘roughing it’ perhaps.

However, there is a concern clouding the horizon. Global mining giants are hoping to mine the Wild coast, especially north of the reserve, for the titanium found in the dunes. Given the destructive method of mining, and the feeble efforts in the restoration of dunes to date (see Richards bay) this would be disaster for the region. 

It is already splitting the community between those who see jobs (and sadly the few jobs that would be offered would not be sustaining) and those who value the beauty, the agriculture and the lifestyle. So I encourage everybody who wants to see this wonderful area to show their support and visit the region, giving eco tourism and the locals who so badly need the income, a boost.

the ocean view solar heated shower

 

Of course, it is always hard to leave an area one falls in love with, and the place didn’t make it any easier for me when I took the wrong option, and drove axel deep into mud…. thus delaying our departure by an hour whilst I found some kind hearted souls (fishermen from Port Shepstone in this case) to tow me out.. thus showing me that even 4x4s can get it wrong. Enjoy the last few images I took from the weekend

 

 

Thank you for your time and comments, views and questions are welcomed.

Ciao

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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