It only takes approximately an hour from Durban to Umzumbe, so we arrive at the Mantis & Moon Backpackers Lodge early in the morning. Early enough to catch the shuttle to Oribi Gorge, a canyon and nature reserve in southern KwaZulu-Natal – and setting for a range of activities that guarantee to get your heart pump out of your chest!
ORIBI GORGE – ADRENALINE RUSH GUARANTEED
Your options there are various: Starting quite chilled with horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking, it gets more adventurous with white water rafting, abseiling, zip lining and – last but not least – the highest bungee swing in the world! Doing a usual bungee jump would have never been an option for me. The thought of being attached at my ankles, jumping head first and then hanging there, head down and feet up… oh hell no, never in my life! But being attached around your waist, using a full body harness and actually being able to jump normally makes it appear so attractive to me. Probably the closest I will ever get to a proper bungee jump and with 165 metres the highest of its kind in the world – there is no chance I will leave Umzumbe without doing this! Bungee Swing, I’m coming for you!
The excitement turns into fear pretty quickly as soon as I reach the office of Wild 5 Adventures, which is located at the top of the Lehr’s Falls, directly where the bungee swinging takes place. Looking down into the gorge, it appears super, super deep. And that makes the jump seem so, so, so scary! Still, I am dead sure that I will regret this in the evening if I chicken out now… So I just jumped!
This is so amazing! Even though the whole jump is just a few seconds long, it’s definitely enough time to experience that roller coaster of feeling: First being in shock of “Why the hell am I actually doing this?”, then the fun of the free fall, third the relief of the rope catching you and finally the relaxation of you cosily swinging around the beautiful scenery of the gorge. I was scared to death before doing it, but once I’ve reached the lowest point of the swing, I screamed out of my lungs, asking: “Can I do this again?”. So in the end, I can without a doubt say, there is nothing to be afraid of, rather be excited for it! Also, the staff are absolutely professional, explaining the whole process very patiently and the gentleman at the jumping point even makes the final steps a bit easier for you by giving you a little push. Thanks man!
Standing in the middle of the Suspension Bridge, which is located just around the corner and hovers 100 meters above the gorge, looking back at where I jumped made me feel so happy I did it. If you are looking for some adventurous stuff to do, Oribi Gorge is the perfect place to go and Umzumbe offers super easy access to get there. And even for the not so adventurous, this gorge definitely is a must see due to the amazing view of a stunning freak of nature. A very special place with a lot of possibilities!
Getting back to the hostel, we loudly get welcomed by the furry inhabitants of the Mantis & Moon. This may not be a place for people who are scared to death by huge dogs, but everybody else will absolutely love it. However, this is not the only unexpected animal encounter you may experience here. Staying at this backpacker, prepare to experience the sound of monkeys fighting on top of your roof – don’t worry, it’s not Tokoloshe! If you don’t know what Tokoloshe is, I suggest you to google it AFTER visiting Mantis & Moon…At the backpacker you’ll experience a nice jungle atmosphere, which makes it a unique place to visit. I highly recommend staying in one of the super fancy treehouses, to enjoy the tropical vibe to the fullest.
The beach is just around the corner and it doesn’t even take five minutes to get there. The weather drastically changed during the day, so the sea appears to be a bit rougher than in Durban. To be honest, it’s really rough! So even just taking a swim in the ocean can become quite a challenge here in Umzumbe – a place where action awaits you behind every corner!
THE BOOZE CRUISE – WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE DRUNKEN SAILOR?
After such an adrenalin rush, I felt like doing something chilled out the next day. As a lucky coincidence for me, it was out of the two days of the week where the hostel organized Booze Cruise for their guests. The concept of the Booze Cruise is pretty easy to explain: You get onto a boat, you listen to live music – and you drink lot of booze! The cruise starts at a pretty private property with a nice garden right at the riverside of Mzumbe River, only a few minutes’ drive away from the backpacker. There, we meet our cute and brisk companions for the cruise and sail off.
Sometimes, all you need to be happy is a glass of wine and some good company. This Booze Cruise offers both of this, plus nice scenery. This, in combination with some good songs played on the guitar creates a super chilled vibe. Keep the wine pouring! The cruise also includes a tasty snack, consisting of different kinds of nice fresh sea food that we pick up along the way. It couldn’t get any better! So if you ever wanted to know what it is like to get tipsy on a boat, the Booze Cruise definitely is a nice activity to recommend for filling a chilled afternoon. As it slowly gets fresher, we decide to turn around – and continue the party at the backpackers!
Waking up the next morning, totally hungover and trying to get ready to catch the Baz Bus to Coffee Bay, I came to the conclusion that Umzumbe can cover different needs: Since it is a super small little village, you can come here to escape the fast moving nature of Durban and enjoy the quietness of this place for as long as you need. The beach is basically never overcrowded, even on a sunny day and for all those who are searching for a bit more activity, adventurous stuff can be found here. I definitely got the goose bumps I was hoping for! Without doubt, I will be coming back here again – as I still need to experience the zip lining in Oribi Gorge!
Written by Angela Kolbe