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Beautiful Bulungula

The beach view from Bulungula

I awoke to a cloudy morning in Bulungula, but at least the rain had stopped. I surveyed the scene outside my window. A cow. A few rondavels on a grassy hilltop. I made my way to the lounge area where I ordered a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and solar-powered Xhosa bread. It was one of my best breakfasts in a long time.

Villagers collect mussels and fish at low tide

Curiosity then lead me a short walk to the rocks and tidal pools uncovered by low tide. Villagers were by the water's edge collecting mussels and fishing. I went for a short walk along the barren beach before returning to the lodge for a rocket shower.

View from my rondavel

The owners of Bulungula are on a mission to showcase ecologically friendly ways of running a business, as well as culturally and ethically sensitive strategies for developing local tourism. Staying in their backpackers was an experience in itself, let alone the fact that it was so well integrated into a Xhosa community overlooking a beautiful section of coastline where a river meets the Indian Ocean.

Rocket shower

So what's a rocket shower, you ask? Pour some paraffin into the base of a vertical pipe, insert a few sheets of toilet paper to act as the wick, and light on fire. One pipe of water is kept cold, for regulating the temperature, while the other is heated up. Rocket showers certainly put the fun back in bathing as you stand there naked, while a fluttering, burping fire flashes near your feet and water washes down from above.

Composting toilet

The fun continues with composting toilets. These unique toilets have two sections, the small front area for pee, and the larger back area for poop. After going number two, you dump two scoops of soil from a nearby bucket onto your deposit, and close the lid. Nature handles the rest. Urinals are also available for the men. Both options help preserve the lodge's water supply which is 100% dependent on rainfall. Electricity is used sparingly, and sourced from solar panels on the roof of the main building. To the South African owner's credit, 40% of the lodge is owned by the local villagers.

Bulungula breakfast with solar-powered Xhosa bread

By late morning, the sun was shining and blue skies battled back the clouds. I spent the hour before lunch writing on my laptop with a view to die for, much to Magali's amusement (given we were in a remote village with no electricity). We all chose the local option for lunch, meaning whatever the staff would normally eat, we would too. The rice with onion and spinach was surprisingly tasty.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking uses and recommends:

gene

Wednesday 25th of March 2009

Kevin - for a map and detailed driving instructions, go to www.bulungula.com. I would definitely leave my car - any kind of car - at the Bulungula "store." It is safe, and you can either walk the rest of the way - 2-3 km - or the Lodge van will pick you up. Those last few kilometers will take you over a track, not really a road. I have a friend living at Bulungula now. Feel free to email him for the latest updates on getting there.

[email protected]

You will love it. I wish I were going with you.

gene

Thursday 26th of March 2009

Kevin - for a map and detailed driving instructions, go to www.bulungula.com. I would definitely leave my car - any kind of car - at the Bulungula "store." It is safe, and you can either walk the rest of the way - 2-3 km - or the Lodge van will pick you up. Those last few kilometers will take you over a track, not really a road. I have a friend living at Bulungula now. Feel free to email him for the latest updates on getting there.

[email protected]

You will love it. I wish I were going with you.

Kevin

Wednesday 18th of March 2009

Hi Dave. Beautiful pics. :razz:

I'm going to Bulungula over Easter. Can you please comment on the roads, I here it's not possible to get out if it rains, ps. I'm driving a 4x4

Regards,

Dave

Wednesday 18th of March 2009

I said it best in the post before this one. The roads are fine until about 2 bumpy, rough hours outside of the village. Then, you definitely need a 4x4 to avoid being stuck or doing damage to the underside of the car, though I heard about people taking their little rental cars there. If it rains, it´ll be muddy, and you'll be more likely to get stuck, or slide down a grassy hill (a few of which you will likely cross toward the end). At least it'll be an adventure, and one well worth it!

Kevin

Wednesday 18th of March 2009

Hi Dave. Beautiful pics. :razz:

I'm going to Bulungula over Easter. Can you please comment on the roads, I here it's not possible to get out if it rains, ps. I'm driving a 4x4

Regards,

Dave

Wednesday 18th of March 2009

I said it best in the post before this one. The roads are fine until about 2 bumpy, rough hours outside of the village. Then, you definitely need a 4x4 to avoid being stuck or doing damage to the underside of the car, though I heard about people taking their little rental cars there. If it rains, it´ll be muddy, and you'll be more likely to get stuck, or slide down a grassy hill (a few of which you will likely cross toward the end). At least it'll be an adventure, and one well worth it!

gene

Monday 26th of January 2009

Dave - When you took that great photo at the top of this posting, you had to be standing in front of the pink rondavel where I stayed while I was in Bulungula. I have several photos from that perspective, but yours is taken in the summer and all of mine in the winter. I lifted yours from the blog and am using it as a screen saver on my computer 10,000 miles from Bulungula.

What a contrast - Bulungula to Bourdeaux in just a few weeks! I envy you.

Gene

Dave

Monday 26th of January 2009

Hey Gene, thanks for letting me know about the screen saver use! I think it is a special place - hope it stays that way.

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