Across the Great Kei River

On Friday afternoon we left Gonubie and travelled on the N2, heading towards the Great Kei River.  The journey to Kei Mouth is 80 kms and takes about one hour.  The turnoff from the N2 towards Kei Mouth leads you onto a tar road that is wide and in excellent condition.

On a bend, as one nears the seaside village of Kei Mouth, a strange sight greets you.  We were told that the owner of this property bought this plane for a song.  It was originally bought by Matamzima when he was the president of the former Trnskei.  It was never used and now sits as a landmark near a restaurant and B & B.  Unfortunately we did not have time to stop and investigate as we had to cross the ferry before it closed for the day.

The Great Kei River is very wide where it reaches the sea and the only way across is via this rather old, but stable ferry.  We had been on the ferry before, many years ago and even then the ferry had seemed old.

We watched as passengers and vehicles disembarked.  It appeared stable enough and everyone looked calm.  All seemed well.  Would it hold our two cars?  The ‘conductor’ waved us aboard.

No time is wasted.  As soon as the vehicles and passengers are loaded, the ferry driver moves slowly into the river.  Vehicles pay R60 and passengers without vehicles pay 50c.  We paid our money and chatted to a few of the locals who regularly use the ferry.  They told us that sometimes, when the weather is stormy, the waves get very choppy and the ferry sometimes cannot cross.

Once across we have about 30 minutes of travelling on dirt roads.  As soon as you cross the Great Kei River it feels as if you are in a different country.  I have been visiting the Transkei for many years and love the relaxed rural atmosphere.

Strelitzia seem to grow a lot bigger in the Transkei.

We stayed at the Trennery’s Hotel  It is typical of the family hotels on the Wild Coast and is famous for its seafood buffet on a Saturday night.  Just make sure you ask for a non-smoking room.  My only complaint was that our room and bed smelt of cigarette smoke.  In all other respects it was a wonderful stay.

The beautiful beaches and idyllic life style hide a crime that is taking place on a daily basis and is not being addressed by the South African authorities.  The locals told us that huge foreign trawlers appear every second night near the Qolora River mouth and set up long lines which are illegal as they catch all types of fish as well as turtles and birds.  The trawlers appear at about 9 pm and have no lights so cannot be identified.  Although this has been reported to the authorities none have ever been causght or confronted.

Not only are our rhino been harvested,  but our fish are also been stolen!  This type of illegal activity destroyed the liveliehoods of fishermen in Somalia and this directly led to the piracy problem in that area.  Unless this matter is addressed, our coasts will be stripped of all life.

The next day we girls decided the explore the area.  Les stayed at the hotel to watch some very important rugby matches.  We took ‘the road less travelled’ and ended up in a situation where we were on a very narrow ‘donga’ and could not turn around.  There was nothing else to do, but bravely venture down the hellish strip (I will not use the word road).  Giving my navigator dirty looks and trying to keep calm and seem confident, I set forth.  It got worse!  Eventually we found a place to turn.  I took a few deep breaths and we went back up the monster.  We decided the less the hubby knew about this little adventure, the better!

By this time our nerves were distinctly shattered.  We needed a stiff drink or some chocolate cake!  It calmed the frayed nerves.

The view from the Morgan Bay Hotel (and the wonderful cake) had the required calming effect.  We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and forgot the rather shattering start to our adventure.

We took a drive to the end of Morgan Bay and stopped to admire this lovely stretch of beach and rocks.  We then took the tar road back to Kei Mouth, crossed on the ferry and went back to Trennery’s.

That evening we enjoyed the seafood buffet and celebrated Marion’s 60th birthday in style.

Nothing was mentioned about taking said vehicle down said ‘donga’, but perhaps one day the truth will out and ‘he who usually drives’ will not look quite so contented.

The next day was Sunday and we left Trennery’s and began the long trip back to Durban.  The road to Kentani is gravel and in a bad state of repair.

It was enjoyable travelling in the rural part of South Africa.  We took it slowly as the roads were bad.

We passed the rural village between Kentani and Butterworth.  The road between Kentani and Butterworth was much better.

This village is near the outskirts of Butterworth.  There were signs that the roads were being graded.  Fortunately there were no roadworks as it was Sunday.

As we approached Butterworth the road was tarred.  At Butterworth we filled up with petrol and continued on the N2.

We crossed the Mbashe River.  It was another 240 kms to Kokstad and a late lunch.

Beautiful storm clouds were gathering as we travelled towards Mthatha.

As we neared Mthatha the roadworks and calming humps slowed us down.  I am not sure why they are called calming humps, as they did anything but calm the driver.

At least we can see where some of our hard=earned taxpayers money is going.  They seem to be building a double highway near Mthatha.

After Mthatha the road improved dramatically.

Near Mount Aylif we encountered mist and rain.  Lovely autumn rains which are welcomed by all.

As we approached Kokstad it rained heavily and the temperature dropped to 13 deg C.

Just as quickly the rain stopped.

After an enjoyable lunch at the Wimpy just outside Kokstad, we continued our journey.  Near Harding we drove slowly through the rain and mist.  The rest of the journey was uneventful.


2 thoughts on “Across the Great Kei River”

  1. Good day,

    I am looking to travel from Durban down to Storms River along the scenic route, avoiding the N2 where possible. I would love to cross the Kei River on the ferry but only have a sedan (Opal Astra, 1995 model). Would you say it is possible? Are the roads ok for a sedan or would you need a high rise vehicle?

    1. You will easily do the trip in a sedan. The roads are quite good. My main recommendation is that you do not travel at night, because the beautiful cows in this part of the country have no road sense. The goats are a bit smarter, but travelling after dark is not advisable.
      The ferry is great fun and as safe and steady as anything.
      Enjoy the trip.

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