27-Dec-2003 -- It was summer in South Africa again and time for holidaying and confluence hunting. This time Ferdi Schenck, Dirk Talma and I (and our families) had our eyes on completing the Transkei (where 32S 28E and 32S 29E was still unvisited) as well as chipping away at Lesotho, specifically 30S 28E. These are rugged rural areas with the Confluences far away from the nearest roads and civilization.
We left Pretoria early on Friday 26 December after spending Christmas day with the family. We followed the N1 and N6, eventually travelling through Aliwal North and Jamestown. A turn-off from the R56 to Dordrecht took us to a trout fishing guest farm high in the mountains where we overnighted.
The next morning we proceeded through Dordrecht and Indwe towards Elliot, turning off on the R58 to Qiba. From Qiba we travelled to Engcobo where the tar ended. The next stage was along a dirt road to Idutywa, which was in the process of being upgraded to a tar road. Here the fun started. Although no roads were indicated close to the Confluence on my maps, Ferdi had bought a set of 1:50,000 maps which showed a track leading to a village close to the Confluence. When Ferdi stopped for a photo opportunity, I went ahead to try and find the track, thinking that Dirk would follow Ferdi. However, Dirk decided to follow me, but when I turned off the dirt road (a little bit early as it turned out), Dirk missed the turn-off. Ferdi noticed this, but his vehicle was too slow to catch Dirk, who thought he was trying to catch me. I could only sit and watch all this happening from afar. Thanks to the wonders of modern telecommunications, I managed to call Dirk on his cell phone and got him to turn around. Eventually we met up along the little track, which seemed to lead directly to the Confluence. From here Ferdi led the way with Dirk close behind. However, just a few kilometres further, they missed a turn-off onto an even smaller track and I could once again only watch as they disappeared over the hill. Realising that they would eventually realise their mistake, I turned down the little track. This eventually led to the little village as expected. We parked about 400 m from the Confluence where Dirk and Ferdi joined us in due course.
In the mean time a small crowd had gathered. A lady who seemed to be in some position of authority and speaking good English wanted to know what we were doing there. A lengthy explanation followed. Eventually she wanted to know what they would get in exchange for allowing us to take our photographs. I was a bit taken back, and asked what she expected. The answer was a new road to the village and I had to explain that unfortunately we were in no position to promise new roads. Luckily we were nevertheless allowed to walk to the Confluence followed by a big crowd of children, most of whom had never seen white people before.
After taking the normal photographs, everybody wanted to pose for a photo, including an old lady who afterwards kissed my hand with tears in her eyes and calling me "nKosi" - a respectful term more or less meaning "king".
After saying our goodbyes, we returned to the dirt road to Idutywa and reached Kei Mouth late that night from where we were due to hike the Strandloper trail - a 56 km hike along the coast to Gonubie. Afterwards we stayed at Morgan's Bay for a few nights, during which Ferdi and Dirk visited 32S 29E to complete the Transkei, while some of the children and I went climbing on the coastal cliffs between Morgan's Bay and Double Mouth.
Continued at 30S 28E.