Durban - A Port Edward couple survived “a night of terror” at the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve on Sunday after losing their way while hiking.
Corne le Roux and his girlfriend, Bettina Eritsland, had left their cellphones in their bakkie when they started their adventure and said they had a lucky escape because they could not contact anyone to ask for help.
At about 12.30pm on Sunday, the couple arrived at the reserve.
“There were three trails to choose from, and we decided to take the 5km trail as I was only wearing slops,” said Le Roux.
He admitted that he was an inexperienced hiker.
“We locked our bakkie, left both our cellphones in it and started hiking,” said Le Roux.
The couple passed two other hikers along the way, who were returning from their walk. When they started descending down mountainous terrain, they found the trail was slippery and damaged.
When the couple came across a sign leading to another area of the reserve, it dawned on them that they were lost.
They decided to carry on, as they reasoned that all the trails would eventually lead back to the start.
“After about three hours, we reached the Umtamvuna River bed, after having to hang on to branches and trees,” he said.
Rene le Roux, Corne’s mother, said: “Little did they know that by the time they’d reached the river bed, the sun was about to disappear behind the mountains. It felt to them like 6pm but it was, in fact, 4.30pm.”
When they tried making their way back up the steep terrain, Bettina slipped and hurt her ankle.
“Due to the little light left and the slippery leaves and rocks, it was a pointless effort,” said Corne.
Frustrated, they decided to stay put. Corne had a lighter in his pocket and lit a fire. At about 11.45pm, the stranded couple were at the river bed when they heard a police rescue dog barking and soon after saw flashlights in the distance.
“We realised that someone had come to our rescue. We screamed, here we are, you have found us’,” he said.
The family said they were thankful to Port Shepstone police for their help. They warned hikers to make sure they had their cellphone when going for a hike, and that someone knew where they were.