Beyond the herd of cattle staring at me dumbly in the headlights of my car was a dead end. Clearly, I’d taken a wrong turn.
This wasn’t the first hint of the deep ruralness of Chintsa East.
From East London airport I had turned off the N2 highway on to a winding road towards this village, this gateway to the Wild Coast, where I gazed out at an unfamiliar darkness largely unrelieved by the twinkling lights of development.
I had been asked to review three five-star accommodation options in the Eastern Cape. With natural competitors like the Kruger Park in Mpumulanga and the pristine beaches of the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape is not always a first choice for tourists, local or foreign.
A U-turn and a five-minute drive later, I arrived at my destination —Prana Lodge Private Beach Estate Spa. A concierge escorted me to the reception lobby, where light spilled out of wide-open doors and on to the dark forest trees in the humid summer night.
The manager passed me a champagne flute of rooibos juice on a silver tray and told me my travelling companion — my mom — was waiting for me in our suite.
Prana is an intimate setup. There are seven suites, a lounge and dining area, pool and Thai spa, all connected by a tumbling dune forest and indigenous gardens.
The estate is a family affair, run by Gail and Tim Davidson: they’ve owned the land for 30