The Wild Coast in South Africa is truly a breathtaking place and perfect for hiking. This experience is truly a bucket list item. The Wild Coast is a section of the coast of the Eastern Cape and stretches from East London in the south to the border of KwaZulu-Natal in the north. Many prominent South Africans were born here, including Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. Both were former South African presidents.
There are many hiking trails along the Wild Coast and Asanda Maxwell Lumkwana is a young entrepreneur who has put together a first rate hike from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay.
Asanda was born in Port St Johns and went to school there. Like most of the village boys, he spent a lot of his time fishing. While he was still at school, Asanda always used to see groups of hikers passing by. Being a curious young boy he wondered where these people were going and why they were carrying such large bags. When he found out that they were in fact hikers, he fell in love with hiking and has been hiking ever since.
Hiking the Wild Coast with Asanda
Asanda’s hike starts in Port St Johns and ends in Coffee Bay with overnight stops in rural villages. The overnight village-based accommodation (VBA) allows you to experience the village culture and delicious Xhosa meals. Port St Johns is a small town situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. It is 220 kilometres northeast of East London and 70 kilometres east of Mthatha. Coffee Bay is named after the hundreds of coffee trees which grew from beans scattered by a shipwreck.
The hike is approximately 75 km which is done over 5 days and 4 nights. The Wild Coast is a land of contrasts and this hike clearly showcases that. Sometimes you are walking up and down the rolling hills and at other times strolling on the stunning Wild Coast beaches. Next, you could be walking in the jungle and crossing rivers. If you are lucky, you will see dolphins surfing the waves. In some parts, the towering cliffs plunge into the ocean below. All of this is magically framed by the sometimes rough and wild ocean.
Breakdown of the hike :
Day 1: Second Beach to Mngazana (Mandakini Village)
The hike starts at Second Beach and is a 5-hour walk to Mngazana, approximately 15km.
This is a lovely walk through the dunes in Silaka Nature Reserve. Silaka Nature Reserve extends from Second Beach to Sugarloaf Rock and encompasses the Ngxwaleni River Estuary, Third Beach and Bird Rock, in its tranquil, 370 hectare, forested valley. After climbing Heartbreak Hill, a footpath takes us down to the Mngazi river. Mngazi means “place of blood” after the many tribal battles fought here in the past. A beach walk takes us to the Mngazana Estuary with a ferry crossing.
Overnight Village-based Accommodation (VBA) with dinner, bed and breakfast. Showers and cooking facilities available.
Day 2: Mngazana to Mpande
Today is a 4-hour walk, approximately 12km.
The hike to Mpande takes you inland, walking on paths through rolling hills and quaint villages with forested valleys. Mpande sits on a hill, overlooking the Indian Ocean, between the Mpande and Sinangwana river mouths.
Overnight VBA with dinner, bed and breakfast.
Day 3: Mpande to Hluleka
Mpande to Hluleka is a 6-hour walk, approximately 18km.
Today the hike takes you over more rolling hills and paths which then descend to the beach walk at Mnenu river. You cross into Hluleka Reserve and follow the road to the village. Hluleka Reserve offers a range of diverse ecosystems from rocky seashores and lagoons to evergreen forests. Winding paths leading to grassy hilltops within the forests offer spectacular dolphin and whale viewing.
Overnight VBA with dinner, bed and breakfast.
Day 4: Hluleka to Tshani
Today’s hike to Tshani is an 8-hour walk and is approximately 21km.
From Hluleka the hike takes you to the Mthakatyi river which we cross by ferry, followed by a grassy dune walk to Presley’s Bay. Inland paths take you to Mdumbi with a rocky beach walk to the village of Tshani.
Overnight at Collen’s VBA with dinner, bed and breakfast.
Day 5: Tshani to Coffee Bay
An easy 3-hour walk, approximately 10km takes you to your destination of Coffee Bay.
Today is an enjoyable beach and clifftop walk, passing through two villages with a descent through the indigenous forest into Coffee Bay.
You can stay overnight at the aptly named Coffee Shack or take a shuttle back to your vehicles at Port St Johns.
Some Reviews :
- “We hiked this trail recently with Asanda Maxwell Lumkwana as our hike leader. He was attentive to our needs and encouraged when necessary, and provided a very laid-back but assured leadership to bring us safely to each overnight location despite some trying conditions and inclement weather. We recommend a hike with Asanda along the Wild Coast.” (Colin Attwell)
- “One of my best experiences and a must do.” (Katja Offerman)
- “Done this… Good hike… Serious tired of pap, potato and chicken… For the rest AMAZING” (Ben Lombard)
For more details, costs and day hikes contact Asanda:
Cell No: 0631733789
Facebook Page: Asanda Maxwell Lumkwana