Rising to the challenge of fierce winds and colossal dunes

 
 
 

Enormous dunes rise and fall along the coast of Maitland Beach. From these heights, they offer a panorama of the rough, captivating waters below. Make no mistake – though their beauty is effortless, getting here takes more than a little sweat. Natalie Vosloo is up for the challenge. “It’s definitely not a climb for the fainthearted,” she says. “But the view from the top is the ultimate reward.”

While Vosloo’s day job as a teacher keeps her mind trained, coming to these hills is a test in physical strength. The avid cyclist first encountered these winding roads and steep inclines while training for the Iron Man triathlon. Now, nothing can keep her away. “If I haven’t come to this place in a while, I feel like it calls me,” Vosloo says. With her gloves and helmet on and the fierce seaside wind blowing across her face, Vosloo is ready to ascend. “There’s this feeling of deserving the hill when you’ve climbed something yourself or on your bicycle,” she says.

Journeying to the hills of Maitland Beach is a breathtaking experience. This stretch of the M9, roughly 30 kilometres away from Port Elizabeth, is lined with coastal fynbos. In the distance, waves roll to a peak and come to rest on the shore. “From here you can see all along the coastline,” Vosloo says. The towering dunes cast shadows upon each other. Sandboarders speed down them with glee. Nearby, the Maitland Nature Reserve adds to the natural wealth of the area. “There’s just so much to see and take in,” Vosloo says. “It makes me grateful for being here.”