It's very easy to get lost on South Africa's Wild Coast, wandering its many magical beaches, combing for lost relics washed up by the ocean, or listening to the lively twitterings of the birds that are unseen in the forests' canopies.
I travelled through its green and gold kingdoms from East London, and you really know you're in the Wild Coast once you've crossed the Kei Mouth on a creaking ferry and bump into your first free-roaming cow.
While it may not be the easiest route and requires careful planning, it's well worth the bumpy roads to get to its nature reserves and beaches where, out of season, you can basically have it all to yourself.
From the strange rocks on Dwesa's beaches to the famous Hole in the Wall to the moonlit sands of Mdumbi to the zebra-filled forests of Hluleka - this region is a must-do trip that should be on every South African's bucket list.
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Top tips for travelling through the Wild Coast
- While you don't necessarily need a 4x4, you do need a high-rise vehicle to navigate the rural roads.
- Also know exactly what your vehicle's fuel consumption is - there are almost no petrol stations and the roads to big towns are long. An extra fuel canister is a good idea to bring along.
- If you're looking for a local guide to take you around the area, inquire at the reception of wherever you're staying, they'll know of a trusted local that knows the area well. In Dwesa ask for Vuyani Transkei Tours.
- Make time to see the sunsets. The Wild Coast is a hilly place and you'll be able to watch the sunset from almost anywhere after just a short hike.
- Around Dwesa and Hluleka everyone is very helpful and friendly, but Coffee Bay's popularity has attracted people who like to take chances, so watch out for extortion.
- School holidays are obviously very popular, so if you're looking to avoid the crowds try to go outside these times during the week. The best weather is during spring and autumn when it's not so boiling hot.
WATCH: A Holidaymaker's Guide to SA's Wild Coast
Click below for more about the route's highlights: