Backpacking the Wild Coast
Did you know?
The gorgeous, undeveloped beaches of the Wild Coast stretch for hundreds of kilometers.
If you choose to backpack along the Wild Coast – an excellent way in which to explore this remote region – you can stay in the heart of a traditional, decidedly non-touristy Xhosa village just above the shoreline, where you’ll bed down in a thatch hut for the night. Or you could opt for a small but comfortable family home, or a hostel right on the beach next to the pounding surf.
The Wild Coast is so-named because of its tumultuous seas, its shipwrecks, its secret lagoons, its splendid desolation and its untamed wilderness.
This is undeveloped rural Africa, and if you’re looking for luxury with all mod cons, then backpacking the Wild Coast is not for you.
What you will find, however, are friendly local communities where the women dress in colourful clothes and smoke long-stemmed clay pipes – not to impress the tourists but because they have been doing so for centuries.
You’ll also find lots to do, from horse riding and hiking to some of the best surf in the world. Whether you’re an experienced surfer (in which case head off to Mdumbi Point, where you can run a wave for almost a kilometre), or, if you’re a novice, take surfing lessons at Coffee Bay.
If you choose the award-winning Bulungula Lodge, you can spend a day with the Xhosa village women learning how to cook and harvest food, or go sea fishing with the men, or pluck fresh oysters and mussels from the black rocks.
Walk with an herbalist in the coastal forest and discover traditional ancient medicinal plants and remedies, or go canoeing up the Xhora River.
The eco-friendly accommodation (don’t always expect hot water or flush toilets) and activities at any of the region’s community backpackers help support the village, so you’ll be doing your bit for rural development as well as having an amazing experience.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Eastern Cape Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)43 701 9600
How to get here
The Wild Coast lies on the Indian Ocean from just north of East London to the Mtamvuna River mouth just below Port Edward. There’s no coastal road, and resorts and villages are down long bumpy gravel roads off the N2.
Best time to visit
Spring, summer and autumn, although during the Christmas holidays most of the resorts and hotels are fully booked months in advance.
What will it cost
Rates vary from approx. R100pp per night for a dormitory or hut, to R350pp for a double room.
What to pack
Your backpacking gear, swimsuit, sunscreen and sunhat.
What to eat