The Chokka Trail comprises a series of walks in the area between Oyster Bay and St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape. Seven of us arrived at Oyster Bay Beach Lodge on Monday evening and the remaining three members of our party joined us the following morning. Oyster Bay is a beautiful area and the views of the beach and rocky coastline were magnificent.
Our first walk was along the coast in an easterly direction, but it was hot and we did not make it to our destination, and turned around after 4 kilometres. It was a good walk nevertheless and built up a good thirst. Little did we know what was in store for us the next day!
For our second hike, we had two guides and we set out towards the Sand River full of enthusiasm, despite forecasts of very warm weather. We soon realised that we were in for a tough day as the temperature soared and we found ourselves battling over high dunes in soft and very bright, white sand. The Sand River is something of a misnomer as there was no river in evidence; instead we were traversing the length of a longitudinal dune field stretching from Oyster Bay to St Francis Bay. Conditions deteriorated and some members of the party were starting to feel physically stressed, so we called for help and engaged a rescue vehicle. Before this arrived, however, the wind suddenly veered around to the west and picked up in speed and we found ourselves in a sand storm. Luckily the temperature dropped about 5 degrees, thereby easing the physical stress considerably. We ended up walking only 8 kilometres, but that was enough for most and we were glad to find comfortable new accommodation on the canals at St Francis Bay.
Before dinner, we enjoyed an interesting cruise on the canals and were all grateful to have an early night.
On Thursday we were taken to the coast, west of Cape St Francis, and walked from there to the point. The weather had changed and it was cool with occasional showers, but we had a good walk and covered around 10 kilometres. A visit to the Sancob Centre, near the lighthouse, gave us the opportunity to see the rehabilitation of stressed birds as well as the chance to adopt a penguin, which we christened ‘Koos’. We again curtailed our walk and went straight to our next accommodation at Cape St Francis Resort.
Our last day, Friday, saw us exploring the Irma Booysen Reserve under the guidance of Dave, who was very knowledgeable and showed us many interesting and rare plants. We finished our time together with drinks and a lunch in the club house at the beautiful St Francis Bay Links Golf Course.
It was an interesting trail, but perhaps not the best we have experienced, mainly due to the fact that it did not have a fixed start point and end point.