16 April, 2014 16 April, 2014

3 Weeks Walking – by Raymond Ninow

Check out another rad entry in our Write to Surf competition, which has some great prizes up for grabs (see below for details).


3 WEEKS WALKING – by Raymond Ninow (all images by Johnny Morris)


“Ay, scheme I’m in a bad way ous…” remarked Brendan, just 20 minutes into our three week surf hike from the Wild Coast Casino in Port Edward to Coffee Bay – about 150km as the crow flies. The funny thing was that we could still clearly see the casino and we were already having our first break. Granted, we were walking directly into a stiff south-westerly with our surfboards tied horizontally to our backs like some sort of queer Hadedas. Brendan reckoned there was something wrong with his backpack, it was just too heavy. The decision was made to eat all his mini cheddars and drink all his juice boxes before continuing. Also deeming his shoes “unnecessary weight”, he gave them to a local walking by. After adjusting his bag again we were all set to go.

The idea for this surf hike through the Kei had been brewing in my mind for almost a year, but until I met Johnny Morris from Canada last winter in Jeffreys Bay, I had no idea when the idea would become a reality. We quickly made a pact that we would embark early the following year. On 7 January we were having a couple beers at my local break in Amanzimtoti with another mate, Brendan Wilcocks, who decided right there that he would join us on the trip leaving in just three days time. Needless to say, we were slightly more prepared than him when we set out on the 10th of January from Port Edward.

The journey begins.

This soon became clear when his “emergency tent” turned out be a piece of tinfoil that was supposed to hang over a small length of fishing line. After it ripped apart in the soft breeze on the first night, he quickly discovered that it made a good pillow when rolled up – perfect for sleeping under the stars, which he did for the rest of the trip with no complaints. I was lucky enough to prepare with Johnny, who was the only one of us that was an experienced hiker – a regular MacGyver if I ever met one.

Disaster struck for me on day six while crossing the Msikaba Mouth. Johnny and I had bought these cheap dry bags that we chucked our backpacks in. We would tie them up rather meticulously to keep the water out, then place the bags carefully on top of our boards and cautiously swim our equipment across. Brendan had a slightly different technique. While we prepared our dry bags, he would just keep his backpack on his back (no dry bag) and paddle across on his board – like he was trying to get over an outside set. He would then have a cigarette break on the other side while watching us with a bemused look on his face.

Strandloper Falls – where the river meets the sea.

On this particular river crossing the beasterly-easterly was blowing like wind out of the devil’s crusty ring – with a force ekse. Johnny just managed to save himself from a scalping when his board took off from the beach and nearly klapped him in the head. Luckily for him he caught it just in time. My board, however, took to the skies and flew 150m down the beach. A friendly local brought it back to me with a big smile on his face, after which I discovered that my left fin had broken out. Luckily the fin plugs were still in good shape, so I could at least move my middle fin to the left plug and ride it as a twinnie. Retro, my bru.

That same night in Msikaba we decided to have a good crack at some night fishing, since our diet consisted of porridge in the morning, chewing gum for lunch and beans ‘n rice for dinner. We treated ourselves to soya mince whenever we came across some and flavoured it with a little bit of Rajah’s mild and spicy. As we were cruising along the beach to the fishing spot just before sunset, we saw something truly remarkable – a huge shark launched itself through the small high tide breakers completely out of the water and onto the beach, just 25m in front of our eyes. It then wriggled itself back around and into the water. I’m no shark expert, so I couldn’t tell you if that was normal behaviour, but we were absolutely flabbergasted to say the least, and I’ll be very surprised if any of us see something like that in our lives again. Crazy! We didn’t catch anything that night despite what we thought was a valiant effort. Brendan swears he had one or two bites, though.

Night fishing in Msikaba and mussels on the braai.

Day 8 and we still hadn’t surfed much. Countless other amazing experiences were enjoyed everyday, but not the waves we were hoping for. This didn’t bum us out too much because we knew it was the middle of summer, but take the gap where you can right? However luck hit us in our guavas come day 9 as we passed through Mbotyi, a small village I can only describe as really “irie”. Two kilometres past the village we arrived at a spot we were hoping to get on, Mzimpunzi Point. We could see it from far and our hopes rose. The closer we got the better it looked, until we set up camp right on the point and paddled out.

We had a lekker session in three foot running surf with a crew of local kids watching from the rocks. After the surf, Brendan wet his line just before sunset and hooked us some dinner within five minutes. Finally! We decided to support the locals and bought a couple crays for the pot as well. This evening was definitely a highlight of the trip and the locals were so friendly – a memory that will not easily be forgotten.

Mbotyi – the backdrop to for our first surf session.

Not every memory was so sweet, though. The night before arriving in Port St Johns my bag was taken from my tent at Manteku and everything inside was stolen, but our robbers were nice enough to leave me the backpack, my shoes, shorts and a shirt. Looking back it made the experience that much more raw and I have no hard feelings. The upside was that my bag was light as a feather from then on and I felt like I could hop, skip and backflip over anything!

Pulling into Port St Johns we needed a rest. Johnny had a tick bite on his gooch, frighteningly close to his left testicle. I had spider bites and infections on my feet that needed anti-biotics and Brendan’s feet were completely finished at this point.

A pair of cheerful women pose for the camera at the local spaza at Luputhana.

It was very insightful to meet all the local Port St Johns surfers who work and stay at the Jungle Monkey Backpackers. My heart goes out to them, you can see the passion for surfing in their eyes and the recent tragedies at Second Beach have not only taken away something they live for, but some of their brothers as well. Unfortunately this spelled the end of Brendan’s trip as his feet were shot, plain and simple. Only two soldiers left.

The track was more beaten from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay, as it is an increasingly more popular trail for guided tour hikes. A little less wild, but by no means less beautiful. The last time we would surf on this trip before Coffee Bay was at Sinanagwana Mouth in Mpande. It was a small clean morning with fun left and right peaks. We stayed a couple nights at the very beautiful and self-sustained Kraal Backpackers, where we met an extremely interesting old hippie lady. I’ve seen some hippies in my time, but this lady was full-on! She insisted that we should buy her home grown cactus hallucinogenic for the rest of the hike, and although appreciative, we politely declined and set off for the last few legs of our journey.

Coffee Bay – the end of our long and joyful journey.

Before embarking on this trip I was worried that with all the spare time that comes along with hiking, my mind would clutter and I would second guess what I’m doing with my life, just lost somewhere for weeks in the Transkei. But on the contrary, something like this, especially whilst pursuing something you love most (for me surfing), clears your mind and really puts different aspects of your life into perspective. That feeling of freedom, of walking wherever you want, stopping wherever you like, knowing that your only task at that present moment is to walk through incredible terrain and surf is absolutely magical.

Click here to check out all the entries so far >>


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on www.zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.



  1. Siddall
    17 April, 2014 at 12:22 pm · Reply


  2. Jaco Janse van Rensburg
    17 April, 2014 at 5:43 pm · Reply

    Incredible…got that south coast dreaming going! One day I wish to do the same=)

  3. momega
    17 April, 2014 at 8:13 pm · Reply

    WoW, what a great story! I hope this makes it in the next edition of ZIGZAG! 🙂
    Amazing photos J. Morris!!

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