KZN North Coast Part four: Richards Bay to Durban May 2021

Just south of Mtubatuba and St Lucia lies Richards Bay, the deepest natural harbour of Africa.

Stefaan had read something about a Pelican Island so… off we went. We put it into the GPS and eventually arrived at a very narrow, dented and uneven pier-like road, with sloping breaker rocks and then sea on both sides of that road, leading onto the island. Me and wobbling Trokkie don’t go well together and I clutched on everything inside the cab and gasped every time we teetered too much (in my opinion). Stefaan- forever gentleman- tried to cajole me into thinking it was really not that bad and even offered to hold my hand… but then… what about the steering? The way I saw it he definitely needed both his hands!

So eventually, in both our opinions, it seemed better for me to get out and walk. Trokkie squealed and groaned her way across the pier-path and I got very nervous every time I saw her jiggle when there was a dip in the road. I decided, for my own health and sanity, to rather focus on the placid ocean than Trokkie’s passage.

They made it in one piece, Stefaan parked and we went for a walk on the island. And no… as we read on another blog afterwards… there are no pelicans on Pelican Island.

We crossed to the mainland again- me on foot, Stefaan with the truck- and I was able to take some photos and video of the crossing. (video to follow soon). Although the video will eventually show way better Trokkie’s wonky passage, the two photos at the bottom give a bit of an idea how the truck dipped left and right when passing over the potholed road. Definitely stuff to make me pretty nervous.

By that time it was late afternoon and we found a BP petrol station somewhere off the N2 where we stopped to sleep. Interesting enough, this was the first time ever, on a National Road petrol station, that they charged us to sleep over at the petrol station.  A first time for everything, I guess!

Next morning we got back on the road, going further south. When we passed a road sign towards Tugela Mouth we thought: ”We are planning to go to the Tugela Falls in the Royal National Park in the near future, why not stop at the spot where the Tugela river ends up in the sea.” So we took a left turn and shortly after found a spot to park our home.

We got out and went for a walk on the beach towards the mouth. This must have been the least nice beach we had been to in the past three weeks along the north coast. 

Although we had all the understanding for the piles of driftwood and bush that had washed up on shore after recent storms (although we weren’t sure if it might have been bush clearing just left on the beach), the mess in between was just terrible.

It seemed to be a combination of rubbish that washes up from the fishing boats on sea and rubbish that washes down the river from inland settlements and townships. 

Obviously the mouth where the river flows into the ocean is a popular fishing haunt and there must have been about 20 parties fishing. That portion of the beach however was disgustingly dirty: bottles, fast food containers, bait packages etc. Some of it might possibly have washed ashore with the storm, but things like the bait packages were from the local fishermen on the beach. It was one big dumpsite.

As we had started our walk on the beach, a handful officials of the Community Development Program were taking a nap in the grass. When we returned from our walk about an hour later… – they were still there. 

When we walked back to the truck we remarked to each other that Tugela Mouth would probably end up on our bucket list of places we don’t want to visit again. 

We continued to Durban, where we slept on North Beach, right in front of Bel Aire hotel, where we had booked all these years before when we had done north and south coast in a rush. The following day we would start our way inland.

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