One of SA's most beautiful coastal regions, the Wild Coast stretches from the Great Kei River just north of Morgan Bay to the Mtamvuna River just south of Port Edward. For most of its visitors, it's a long journey to reach the white sandy beaches and rolling hillsides of the Wild Coast, but once there - the views, people and activities are all too rewarding.
The Wild Coast is known to be a dangerous coastal strip with its steep hills and scary cliffs, but hikers have never been discouraged. If the unfamiliarity of the Wild Coast appeals to you, we suggest taking a hike on the Wild side! Along with the breath-taking scenery, local residents add an undeniable charm to the destination which can be fully embraced on a long hike when locals generously open their homes to hikers.
The Wild Coast boasts amazing day and multi-day hiking routes and attracts adventurous hikers year-round. The evergreen hills are most often visited in the hot (but rainy) summer months between December and February, - but do not be caught without your poncho!
Our top five Wild Coast hikes:
1. Wild Coast Hike: Port St Johns to Coffee Bay
This authentic five-day journey explores the unhindered Transkei, where village huts and cattle are the only signs of civilisation. You will fully embrace the culture by learning Xhosa phrases, staying in village huts and eating traditional Xhosa dishes. The Wild Coast is known for its rolling grass hills and wide stretching beaches and you can also spot whales and dolphins as they enjoy the warm Indian Ocean.
Breakfast and dinner is served at the village accommodation and small shops can be visited at these stopovers, therefore only light snacks are necessary.
Where do I sign up? Highly-acclaimed guide, Jimmy Selani is eager to hear from you on 082 507 2256.
ALSO SEE: Long hikes 101: Tips and trails to try in SA
2. Strandloper Trail: Kei Mouth to Gonubie
Keen on exploring the pristine beaches on your own pace? The Strandloper Trail is an unguided hike and one of the Wild Coast's most popular. The four-day hike is about 57km in length providing the absolute best of the Wild Coast - long sandy beaches, fishing spots, river crossings, leafy forest terrain and authentic Transkei huts as well as log cabins for ta night's rest.
Not to worry about hiking without a guide - the route is clearly marked with white on green boot prints.
Where do I sign up? Contact: 043 841 1046
3. Wild Coast Meander: East London to Morgan Bay
Yearning for a hiking adventure, but so in love your luxurious hotel stays? No worries, the Wild Coast has something for you as well.
The Wild Coast Meander treks the southern parts of the Wild Coast where weary hikers can retreat to hotels and resorts at the end of each day!
Cover 56km of coastline on this moderate hike. Knowledgeable guides and porters are from local Xhosa communities and will accompany hikers daily.
Start at Kob Inn (the hotel on the rocks), enjoy lunch at a rural hotel and embrace the pub overlooking the ocean before embarking on the journey in the morning. You will make stops at Mazeppa Bay Hotel, Wavecrest, the Jacaranda shipwreck, Trenerry's Hotel and Morgan Bay Hotel.
Where do I sign up? Click here for more info or contact William on 043 743 6181.
4. Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay
If you are only in the area for a couple of days, you probably have a range of activities lined up. One of the most iconic Wild Coast activities is to visit Hole in the Wall just south of Coffee Bay. Hole in the Wall is a massive rock formation in the sea with, you guessed it, a hole in the middle!
If you're staying at a backpackers or a holiday resort in the area, explore the Hole by foot. From Coffee Bay, a three-hour up-and-down hike will get you there. This hike is an active and cultural experience where you will meet and greet many locals en route. The perfect opportunity to practice your newly acquired Xhosa phrases.
Pack a picnic and spend the rest of the day on the rocky and grassy beach beside the hole. Take swim and relax before your hike back. Still exhausted? Many locals try their luck and offer taxi services back to town, but you can arrange this beforehand.
Where do I sign up? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Silas on 073 965 7125.
5. Jikileza Route: Gonubie to Chefane
The Jilkileza Route showcases the best of the Transkei in the Eastern Cape and although it can be done by vehicle, we suggest exploring this tourist route by foot with a two-day trek along the beach. Learn about the Wild Coast’s maritime heritage by navigating the shoreline.
Named after the isiXhosa expression 'to go around' - the route stretches from Gonubie, just outside East London, up to Chefane along the coast and Kwelerha in the Great Kei area.
Prepare for a laid-back mix of coastal and rural experiences and don't get a fright if Nguni cattle decide to join you for a stroll.
Where do I sign up? Email: mailto:email@example.com
What to read next on Traveller24:
- SA Insider: The Complete guide to the Cape Route 62
- #LoveSA: Insider Guide to the must-visit towns of the Sunshine Coast
- Overberg Insider: 5 Lesser-known dorpies to love