Regions / Things to Do

Cinsta: A vacation in rural South Africa.


After a 15 hour drive from Cape Town my family and I arrived in Cinsta in South Africa’s Ciskei.  The sun had already set by the time we arrived and we checked into our resort.  The resort itself was nothing to write home about; in fact it was crummy, quite old and stank of smoke.  I was too tired to be bothered but in the morning when I walked out onto the balcony, I was greeted with the aroma of coffee and a canopy of trees and green bushes which formed a blanket all around our cottage.  I could spot a corner of the ocean in the distance and one rooftop sticking out through the green sea.


It was the perfect to sit, sip your coffee and wait to see monkeys with blue balls jumping through the trees and stop to watch us.  As soon as we were out the resort, you could turn and walk right down onto the beach which unfolded for miles to the left banked by tall sand dunes and all the way to the right before sand dunes and a river came into view. My husband and I found a deserted kayak beside the river and decided it must’ve been Buccaneers’’ backpackers.  We assumed they wouldn’t mind and set off paddling slowly inland.  The river took us past a proud eagle perched atop a tree waiting for his moment to dive for a fish.  Waders made their way along the edge dipping their long legs into the mud and looking for food.   We floated over shallow sandbanks and past closed up holiday homes.  All about us the hills of Eastern Cape vegetation unfolded before us.  The deeper into the ravine we paddled, the less we could hear the ocean.  All we heard were birds who seemed totally oblivious to us.


The next day, we joined a Cinsta Horse Rehabilitation centre for a horse trail along the beach and through the bush.  There were about eight of us including the leader and volunteers working at the centre.  The trail took us down the hill from the farm, past thorny bushes which later made me itch and all the way until we could see the coast.  We passed huts with washing hanging up to dry in the sun, rounded hills with high green grass and a valley of trees, palms and groves.  Each one of our horses had been rescued and rehabilitated at the centre and were now shiny, strong and healthy and moved with incredible easy and enthusiasm onto the rocky past of the beach sticking close to the dunes.  We trotted past sunbathers, fishermen and children playing the sand.  We took a chance to gallop unrestrained down the long stretch of sand.  I felt free and afraid all at once, plus my buttocks took strain.


After a long day on the horses, I could think of nothing better than hitting the waves with my surfboard.  There weren’t a lot of waves, but they were there.  It was somewhat messy so I struggled to get out to the backline.  I also hesitated to go too further out as this beach had no lifeguards and sharks were known to come near to river mouths.  The water was much warmer than Cape Town’s beaches and I could have stayed in there for the greater part of the day.  Our New Year’s Eve was spent at a Mayan party at backpackers on the hill overlooking the river.  We had our shoulders and faces painted and danced beside the pool, out on the sand and beside the sea.  Aside from the all people on the beach during high season, it was one of the most unspoilt, rural places I have ever visited in South Africa and I sincerely hope it keeps its rural charm for many years to come.

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