Home Gallery Map CONTACT US
Wild Coast Hikes - a group of hikers on the trail from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay
The information sign at Second Beach at the start of the hiking trail Hiking over a rocky stretch of beach Experience Xhosa Culture at it's heartland - The Wild Coast

Hiking The Wild Coast - Port St Johns to Coffee Bay - 5 Days

Mbuyi Mangala, registered Wild Coast hiking guide

With Mbuyi Mangala - guiding this trail since 2000 - voted Best Tour Guide in the OR Tambo Region (2009), Certificate of Exceptional Contribution to Tourism Advancement (2010), former Vice-chairperson of the Port St Johns Local Tourism Association, former Chairperson of Port St Johns Tourist Guides Association.

Meet Mbuyi, the Headman of Mthumbane Village in Port St Johns and son of the former King of the Pondo People, Mangala. Mbuyi grew up on the Wild Coast, and decided to promote village-based tourism because he knows the background and difficulties faced by people in rural areas. He is an authoritive person within the Pondo traditional system, ensuring that your security is taken care of during the hike. Mbuyi can accommodate bookings of up to 22 hikers.

About the Wild Coast

The "Wild Coast" is an old seafaring term which refers to the unpredictable weather caused by the convergence of 2 meteorological systems. The coastline is approximately 270km long and stretches from the Mtamvuma River (bordering KwaZulu-Natal in the north) and the Kei River to the south (hence the area's alternative name - the Transkei). The Wild Coast's terrain is extremely rugged and almost inaccessible in many places, and this, coupled with the region's history as a Homeland during the Apartheid years, has left it less developed than most areas of South Africa. It is one of the poorest parts of the Eastern Cape Province, but is rich in natural beauty including cliffs, unspoilt beaches and lush subtropical vegetation. Xhosa culture is also a big drawcard, with traditional practices being particulary closely adhered to in this fascinating part of the country.

Pondo Culture

Along with the scenery, Pondo culture is the biggest drawcard of the hiking trail. Experience the rural African way of life of the Pondo people, with everything from rituals to customs and the medicinal uses of the flora of the Wild Coast being explained to you by your guides, who are intimately acquainted with the area, having grown up here themselves.

Village-based Tourism

This is village-based tourism at its best. All of the services, except for rest breaks at resorts and backpackers lodges along the way, are provided by locals, and 100% of the benefits (including any arts, crafts, snacks etc you may buy along the way) pass directly to the local communities.

Meals And Accommodation During The Hike

Experience a different way of living! Accommodation is in traditional Pondo huts, with the luxuries of showers and toilets. You will be treated to traditional hospitality and meals, and get to meet the villagers and learn about their culture. Dinner, breakfast and bedding are included in the cost.

Overnight accommodation is included in the hike Typical view of a Pondo Village Xhosa children doing a traditional song and dance

Equipment Checklist

  • Backpack (30 - 45 litre)
  • Walking shoes / hiking boots
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Raincoat / poncho
  • Swimming costume
  • Towel
  • Toiletries - toothpaste & toothbrush, soap & soapbox etc
  • Flashlight / headlamp
  • Camera / cellphone
  • Walking stick (many prefer to cut their own walking stick of locally-available wood)
  • Changes of clothes & socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Energy snacks
  • Plasters & asprin for minor cuts, headaches, blisters etc.*
  • Sleeping bag (optional)
  • Optional electronic equipment such as GPS devices, Fitbit etc

To purchase hiking gear online, try www.mountainmailorder.co.za, which carries a wide range of quality brands.

* Medical emergencies are catered for through Back2Back, a transport company which runs Wild Coast tours. They know the Transkei's backroads and will drive to the site of any emergency (with a doctor if necessary), and on to the nearest hospital (Days 1 & 2: Isilimela Hospital; Day 3: Mthakatye Clinic; Days 4 & 5: Canzibe Hospital).

Difficulty / Fitness

As a whole, the hiking trail is not especially difficult, although there are some tough sections with steep gradients. The aim is to cover approximately 12km (5-6 hour's walking) per day, with time and energy left over for leisure activities such as swimming and evening conversations. The youngest tourist to have completed the trail with Mbuyi was 15 years old, while the oldest was a great-grandmother of 75. For those who wish to walk along unemcumbered, porters can be hired for the 5 day hike.


Cost of hike - rates card

These prices are subject to change. Secure your booking with a 50% non-refundable deposit of the guiding fee. The balance of the guiding fee, plus accommodation and the fee for river crossings is paid before the hike commences. For banking details, email Mbuyi or phone him on 084 725 5904.

The Hiking Trail's Route Along The Wild Coast

Day 1: Port St Johns to Madakeni

  • Distance: +/- 18km
  • Highlights: Wildlife at Silaka Nature Reserve. Panoramic views of Sicambeni

> More info and photos…

Day 2: Madakeni to Tsweleni

  • Distance: +/- 8km
  • Highlights: View from Brazen Head. Approach to Tsweleni in its coastal village setting.

> More info and photos…

Day 3: Tsweleni to Hluleka

  • Distance: +/- 18km
  • Highlights: Mpande rock pools, Shark's Point, Mnenu River, Game in Hluleka Nature Reserve.

> More info and photos…

Day 4: Hluleka to Tshani

  • Distance: +/- 20km
  • Highlights: River trip, walk into Mngcibe Village.

> More info and photos…

Day 5: Tshani to Coffee Bay

  • Distance: +/- 12km
  • Highlights: Mdumbi and Mthatha Rivers, approach over Mapuzi Cliffs into Coffee Bay.

> More info and photos…

Typical Wild Coast scenery between Port St Johns and Coffee Day
Call Mbuyi: 073 581 7224 or email: wildcoasthikes3@gmail.com
All content © Wild Coast Tradings. COMPANY REGISTRATION: CK2015/385238/7

Recommended websites

Purple Indigo is a self-catering establishment offering good value Port St Johns accommodation, and is situated at The Gates, 5km from the town centre.
Further afield, Karma Backpackers, situated in Kestell in South Africa's Free State province, offers a convenient base for Drakensberg hiking tours and trips to Lesotho, in a comfortable setting with award-winning hospitality.
If you are hiking in the Central Drakensberg or KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and need Midlands Meander accommodation, we recommend Mount Park Guest Farm. They have hiking trails up the famous Inhlosane Mountain as well as a wide range of other activities.
If you're looking for Backpackers South Africa, get to Bumpkins in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Activities include hiking, trail-running and cycling, as well as visits to the Mandela Capture Site museum and sculpture, the Midlands Meander arts & crafts route, Karkloof Canopy Tours (a zip-line adventure through indigenous forest and much more.
Traveling up the coast? One of the best Durban backpackers is Monkey Bay, situated in Ballito - near the beach and the closest backpackers to King Shaka airport.