This little village is situated on the southern bank of the beautiful Qholora River estuary, about five kilometres north of Kei Mouth. It is reachable without a 4x4, and from East London is accessed via the pontoon ferry across the Kei River - an enjoyable novelty for many visitors. Alternatively, Qholora Mouth has a private airstrip and is accessible by light aircraft.
The Qholora River is navigable for about four kilometres upstream and a canoe or boat ride to its “gates” is not to be missed. The name Qholora (meaning “steep place”) refers to this incredible steep, narrow gorge in forested cliffs through which the river carved its path. The estuary is often closed by a large sand bank, but this makes it excellent for swimming, fishing, bird-watching and canoeing.
The beaches on both sides of the mouth are wonderful for walks and are within reach of some historically interesting places. These include a number of shipwreck sites and the Gxara River pools, at which the young Xhosa girl, Nongqawuse, saw visions and heard voices telling her that the dead would rise and destroy the European invaders if the Xhosa destroyed all their cattle and crops. This prophesy led to the slaughter of 400 000 cattle between 1856 and 1857 and the death of 50 000 people through starvation.
Trennery’s Hotel offers thatched chalets, children’s entertainment, tennis, bowls, horse-riding, 4x4 trails, a bar and snooker tables and sunset booze cruises and hires canoes and dinghies to guests. Seagulls Hotel has beautiful rocky coastline views, a tidal pool and adult and kiddies’ pools with sea views.
The area is well known for excellent rock- , surf- and river-fishing (with bluefish, galjoen, zebra, garrick and grunter among the catches). Natural bait is abundant and available from Seagulls, where there is also a fisherman’s freezer. Both hotels are a short walk from the swimming beach and lagoon.
Qholora Mouth is about as far from pretentious as one can get. It’s a place of serenity and contemplation in a blissfully beautiful setting.
Look out for
Trevor Wrigley is very knowledgeable about Xhosa tradition and history and offers guided trails. The three-hour Nature Trail involves boating and walking up the Qholora River. Wrigley points out trees and plants and explains how they are used for Xhosa traditional medicines. The Culture Trail goes to a local sangoma’s (traditional healer’s) kraal for a demonstration of her methods and traditional Xhosa lifestyle and dance. The Historical Trail leads four kilometres inland to the Gxara River pools, where Nongqawuse had her famously devastating visions. Wrigley is contactable through the Trennery’s and Seagulls hotels.
Day trips can be taken to the Great Kei viewpoint, Khobonqaba River or the wreck of the 2 000-ton Greek ship, the Jacaranda (1971).
Bawa Falls are just outside Gcuwa (formerly Butterworth) en route to Qholora Mouth. The falls are on the Qholora River and, after rains, the water drops more than 100 metres.