We set out to face the hills with paddles in hand and the sun beating down upon our sun-screened shoulders as the clock turned over to ten.
The Xhora is one of many rivers that gracefully wind their way down to the Wild Coast, through the hill and past the clay huts, it goes, supporting the local fisherman and providing much needed nourishment to the livestock of the land.
Canoeing is one of the many activities offered by community driven backpacker lodge, Bulungula, and today we were headed out with local guide, Lindo, to conquer one of the rivers in the area.
Although Bulungula is located on its own river mouth we were headed to the Xhora, a solid thirty-five minute walk away, and at first we wondered why we should walk so far to another river when a perfectly good one was just ten seconds away.
It wasn’t long until our silent questions were answered, about five minutes into the walk, once we had reached the peak of our first hill we saw the beauty of the Xhosa village laid out before our eyes, little round huts in all sorts of colours dotted the golden hills as far our eyes could see and little children waved and shouted “Molo!” from all around us, I was absolutely mesmerised and felt instant envy toward the people living here.
After stopping to roll rocks down a long hill we reached the Xhora in what seemed like no time at all and Lindo readied the two-seater canoes. Walking down to the water the dark mud squelched between our toes and has us all in stiches before we had begun.
The paddle was an out an back affair, we paddled with current and the gentle wind behind us and marvelled at not only the beauty but also the privilege of being on the river and experiencing something so few before us have. We paddled past goats resting on the bottom of impossibly steep cliff sides, cows grazing and fishermen fishing with throw nets and rudimentary fishing rods made of branches.
On the way back we stopped by the Ilanga Fire Restaurant and had savoury and sweet pancakes, made on paraffin stoves, and orange squash to replenish us before the walk home. Again, children broke away from their soccer games and warmly greeted us as we walked along the footpaths cut into the hills home.
I would advise any human on the planet, should they get the opportunity, to come out here.