Backpacking the Wild Coast: Coffee Bay's twist on a pub hop

2016-10-16 18:11 - Carina Greeff
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A few things I've learned about the Wild Coast during a much-too-brief three-day new year's celebration...

One, the Wild Coast appeals to absolutely everyone. Two, You'll want to arrive well-rested and keeping an open mind. Three, and, no, three days doesn't cut it - unless you are really into trance music and dreadlocks.

If you disapprove of local youths selling dodgy smelling 'vegetables', rather stop reading now and opt for a Wild Coast foodie escape. 

But if the harsh 'real life' grind is getting you down and you are craving something that will take you out of your comfort zone, learn a new language, and experience an array of new things, a wild escape such as this might be just what you need.

At this destination like no other in SA, you'll get that secluded feeling. It will seem like civilisation has not yet reached all the nooks and crannies - which is in fact a reality for the rural villagers of this remote region of SA.

SEE: Bridging SA: Game-changing architecture for rural Trankei

And yet, the fact that there are stocked bars may seem bizarre considering the bumpy commute you'll go through to reach Coffee Bay.

A photo posted by Gemma Marie (@gemmamarie10) on

Peak season nightlife in Coffee Bay is indeed not for everyone, but those who manage to embrace the culture will go home having had a thrilling experience. Chances are you will go home with one or two new talents: Either mastering the art of drumming,  or kind of getting the hang of 'fire poi' (minus a few patches of your eyebrows) A bonus is certainly the skill of being able to play the ukelele along to 'Somewhere over the Rainbow.'

Chances are just as good that you would have played and lost at Jenga somewhere along the lines and you will struggle to lose 'Kunjani' from your new Wild Coast vocab.

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How to make the most of your Wild Coast party escape:

1. Embrace your home base

Everything about Bomvu Paradise Backpackers is welcoming and 'chilled' until you realise that you've entered a 48-hour trance party. Nevertheless, you quickly adjust and receive your first lesson in 'being mellow'. You'll even start to miss the constant boom-chicka-boom when you leave.

Before exploring the rest of Coffee Bay, you will probably befriend a few folks who find your ukelele-playing friend's 'baby guitar' very amusing. 

A game of Connect 4 with your new friends and you might end up performing a semi-tribal dance with them by the massive fire pit while entertainers for the evening provide the bongo background music - yes, a rather idyllic start to your Coffee Bay break.

Fellow backpackers will also find it entertaining if someone in your entourage has mastered the art of 'fire poi' - it's not difficult to make conversation at a backpacker like Bomvu, where you will meet real modern day hippies, multi-lingual European tourists and a whole bunch of city slickers braving their very own wild escape.

2. Pub-hopping Coffee Bay style

After familiarising yourself with your surroundings (knowing which room or tent is yours) its time for a little exploring. A night out in Coffee Bay is an authentic rural-meets-tourist experience.

As soon as you step into the street, interested youths will approach you with their arts, crafts and tales. Pinch off some time for a chat and find out where the best hangouts are.

The crew at Jah Drums will teach you the art of djembe drumming and send you home with your own handmade instrument. You will meet some interesting characters and master the beats in no time.

Make a pit stop at The Coffee Shack, before you head for supper at Papazela's - a hot spot for pool, pizza and (by day) a terrific Coffee Bay view.

Still walking to the beat of the drum, head up the road toward Sugarloaf Backpackers for fun and games with staff members and guests alike. Local barmen are friendly but will most likely beat you in pool and, yes, you will end up treating them to a round of shots.

SEE: 7 Secret beaches on the Wild Coast

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3. The hills are alive

A new year's celebration in the Transkei is not complete until you have explored the hilly surroundings between your hostel and the beach. A vibrant atmosphere fills the air as strangers become friends and the odd stray cow adds to the already remarkable scenery of the Transkei.

In the evening circles of people gather here and there, music coming from every direction, the odd burst of fireworks and loads of content faces passing by puts everyone in the happy Wild Coast mood.

Take your sleeping bag and musical instruments along with you, spend the night under the stars  simply because you can. Waking up for a sunrise makes for one special way to close off your Coffee Bay experience.

SEE: Wild Coast: A complete guide to Port St Johns

A photo posted by Anne (@annesatlas) on

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