Not so wild Wild Coast

Blue skies, white clouds, dark cliffs, whales jumping, dolphins playing.

A country beautiful and divided, stunning and frustrating.

We had it all at a fantastic five day hike at the west coast.

We, that was Nadja & Markus (friends from Germany) and Sonja and myself, were hiking on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, North of East London. For those of you who are not too familiar with South Africa’s geography: It is at the southern coast about half way between Cape Town and Durban.

We started not much more than 100 km direct line from East London away. But still, the ride from East London is more than three hours. And the social distance between the places is even longer. Some of us came from East London, others from the Drakensberg. The tour starts in the former Transkei. Travelling through the former Transkei, now part of the Eastern Cape province, is a journey between first and third world. The coast resembles the Garden Route, but the “locations” certainly not. Transkei was one of the pseudo-independent and infamous homelands in South Africa. You can see the dire state of the region today. If you want to know whether it is true that 40% of South Africans are very poor (means living from less than 1, 25 USD per day). Just go to the former Transkei. It feels more like Zambia or Lesotho than like South Africa.

The road leads to a stunning landscape with hills and valleys from another dimension. You feel like little Liliputs in these grand surroundings.

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The small resort Wavecrest is nestled at the mouth of the Nxaxo river inbetween subtropical forests. You might see whales from your own deck. After a good and full cooked breakfast the decadence of an organised hike started. Our porters arrived from the next village and took our baggage. The slight feel of guilt is made up by the knowledge that employing porters and a local guide is the most direct way of channelling tourist money in the local economy…. Of we went through some wild banana forests and a light jungle.

The walk is gentle and the sea breeze cooling. After 14 km of light hiking (or more accurately walking) we reached “Trennery’s”. You feel set back in the good ol’ times. Everything is a bit outdated, but charming. So the Gin & Tonic just tastes better than ever. The complimentary snacks served with the sundowner were Kudu meat balls and local Oysters! The golf course and airfield are closed since long times, but pool and snooker billiard survived the times. A late addition is the trampoline.

Next day we went along the beach and over some rocks. The weather was meandering between sun and a bit of drizzling rain. The coast is just empty, empty and empty. We saw every few kilometres a local guy looking for some fish or fire wood. That’s it. Are there no tourists in the former Transkei? The infrastructure is non-existing. The start of this social disaster was just along our route. We are crossing the Gxarha River where in the mid-19th century the Xhosa girl Nongqawuse had the vision that the Xhosa nation should kill all their cattle and burn their grain to become unvulnerable for the British soldiers. Not only did the Xhosa warriors die, but about three fourth of the population of the area died of famine. It is said people turned to cannibalism.

We kept alive and after another hour of walk the river Kei is insight. The ferry carries us from Transkei to Ciskei and we are crossing a social and economic border as deep as through Apartheid times. On the other side is Kei Mouth, tarred roads and a nice Palm hut.

The coast is getting more rocky and even more stunning. We are reaching Morgan Bay and its Hotel overviewing the sea. From our terrace we can spot whales in not far a distance. In the morning, two groups of dolphins are playing in the water. Finally, the walk turns into a real hike and we climb over high cliffs towards Haga Haga. The beach is just stunning, the surf is great. It is wonderful to bath. The hotel is outdated and without any charm, but the pool billiard is matched by a music box. We can convince the barmen to hand in the keys and we have a great evening all by ourselves.

More deserted beaches are following for another 15 km. The walk is turning into a promenade. The wind is taking up until we reach the final destinations Crawford Cabins. More Gin & Tonics with a splendid few over the ocean is the climax of pampering ourselves.

It is a great hike through beautiful landscapes, remote beaches as you can find them only in Africa, a country divided under an endless sky and ashore a neverending sea.

2 comments to Not so wild Wild Coast

  • Nadja

    Wow, reading those lines I’m totally back again in the tour. It was such an amazing hike along on the Wild Coast, we’ll never forget. Hey, we`ve seens whales!!!! Just to mention also the cool cows who seemed to chill out on the seaside and the exiting encounter with a Green Mamba (though we’re still discussing, whether it was a real one).
    And I’ve also learned a lot not only about the region, its rich flora, fauna and traditions but also dart and billard (Pool AND Snooker), at least I tried hard.
    Thanks for arranging everything!!!

  • Tolles

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive learn anything like this before. So good to search out any person with some authentic ideas on this subject. realy thanks for beginning this up. this website is something that’s wanted on the internet, someone with a bit of originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

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