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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

Meet Mbuyi Mangala, who has been guiding the Wild Coast Hiking Trail since 2000. He has been voted Best Tour Guide in the OR Tambo Region (2009), and was awarded a Certificate of Exceptional Contribution to Tourism Advancement. He is the former Vice-chairperson of the Port St Johns Local Tourism Association, and the former Chairperson of Port St Johns Tourist Guides Association. He is a very active member of the Wild Coast's tourism scerne.

Mbuyi is the Headman of Mthumbane Village in Port St Johns, and son of the former Mpondo king, 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 and freak waves caused by the meeting of warm ocean currents fron the north and cold currents from the south. In modern times it has also come to refer to the undeveloped nature of the place. 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, which, however, also refers to the inland areas across the Kei River). 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

Hiking Equipment Checklist

  • Backpack (about 30 litres)
  • 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).

Trail 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

1 Hiker: R3,500

  • Hiking Guide: R310/day x 5 days = R1,550
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights = R1,800
  • River crossings: R150

2 Hikers: R6,900

  • Hiking Guide: R300/day x 5 days x 2 people = R3,000
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 2 people = R3,600
  • River crossings: R150 x 2 people = R300
  • Cost per hiker: R3,450

3 Hikers: R10,200

  • Hiking Guide: R290/day x 5 days x 3 people = R4,350
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 3 people = R5,400
  • River crossings: R150 x 3 people = R450
  • Cost per hiker: R3,400

4 Hikers: R13,000

  • Hiking Guide: R280/day x 5 days x 4 people = R5,600
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 4 people = R7,200
  • River crossings: R150 x 4 people = R600
  • Cost per hiker: R3,350

5 Hikers: R16,500

  • Hiking Guide: R270/day x 5 days x 5 people = R6,750
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 5 people = R9,000
  • River crossings: R150 x 5 people = R750
  • Cost per hiker: R3,300

6 Hikers: R19,500

  • Hiking Guide: R260/day x 5 days x 6 people = R7,800
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 6 people = R10,800
  • River crossings: R150 x 6 people = R900
  • Cost per hiker: R3,250

7 Hikers: R22,400

  • Hiking Guide: R250/day x 5 days x 7 people = R8,750
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 7 people = R12,600
  • River crossings: R150 x 7 people = R1,050
  • Cost per hiker: R3,200

8 Hikers: R25,200

  • Hiking Guide: R240/day x 5 days x 8 people = R9,600
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 8 people = R14,400
  • River crossings: R150 x 8 people = R1,200
  • Cost per hiker: R3,150

9 Hikers: R27,900

  • Hiking Guide: R230/day x 5 days x 9 people = R10,350
  • Accommodation: R450/day x 4 nights x 8 people = R16,200
  • River crossings: R150 x 9 people = R1,350
  • Cost per hiker: R3,100

Maximum group size: 22 hikers

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 073 581 7224.

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.

• Day 1 info and photos…

Day 2: Madakeni to Tsweleni

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

• Day 2 info and photos…

Day 3: Tsweleni to Hluleka

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

• Day 3 info and photos…

Day 4: Hluleka to Tshani

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

• Day 4 info and photos…

Day 5: Tshani to Coffee Bay

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

• Day 5 info and photos…

Typical Wild Coast scenery between Port St Johns and Coffee Day
Call Mbuyi: 073 581 7224 or email: wildcoasthikes3@gmail.com
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