Chintsa, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
Chintsa has become one of the top ‘voluntourism’ centres in South Africa.
Before one gets to the village of Chintsa in the Eastern Cape, one has to talk about the word ‘Chintsa’.
It’s a Xhosa word meaning ‘river of crumbling banks’, and it is pronounced in a very specific way. Most visitors say ‘Sintsa’, but the locals introduce a click sound at the beginning of the word.
And once you arrive here, at the southern foot of the Wild Coast on South Africa's eastern coastline, you will discover that learning the different clicks in the Xhosa language is part of the fun of discovering this region.
Chintsa (formerly spelt ‘Cintsa’) lies on both flanks of the mouth of the Chintsa River in the Eastern Cape, about 40km north of East London off the N2 highway. For many generations it has been a favoured holiday and fishing spot for both locals and visitors from further afield.
There are few more attractive sights than watching a group of riders and their mounts galloping across the stretch of wide, clean beach that makes Chintsa so special.
Then there’s also the very pleasant sensation of chilling out in a hammock on a resort lawn overlooking the Chintsa Lagoon, sipping a cold drink, reading a book and occasionally lifting one’s eyes to the Indian Ocean for a sighting of a passing whale or a frolicking pod of bottlenose dolphins.
Ask Chintsa regulars (with the local accent 'Chintsa reglars') why they keep coming back here and they’ll tell you about their favourite hotel, resort or backpackers’ establishment, and how their parents used to take them there as children. Now they take their own families to the same spots.
They’ll also tell you that Chintsa has the ‘best weather in the world’. That’s a bit partisan, perhaps, but it is true that the semi-tropical climate around Chintsa makes for mild year-round temperatures.
Naturally speaking, the Chintsa area has high dunes, indigenous forests full of birds and plants and, of course, that great beach.
Culturally, there is Mama Tofu down the road. A legendary raconteur and expert in Xhosa rituals and women’s rights, Mama Tofu is a favourite among the visitors who come to Chintsa. An afternoon spent at her village is not easily forgotten.
When you’re not riding horses on the beach, chewing the fat with Mama Tofu, fishing for something fresh from the sea, hiding in that hammock, or walking along the beach, you’re dining in 1 of the good restaurants in Chintsa. And wondering why you’ve never been here before...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Wild Coast Jikeleza
Tel: +27 (0)86 572 7661
Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)43 734 3234
Tel: +27 (0)43 738 5141
Tel: +27 (0)43 738 5139
How to get here
About 40km north from East London on the N2 and take the turn-off to Chintsa.
Best time to visit
Chintsa prides itself on being a year-round destination because of its mild, sub-tropical climate.
Around the area
Visit the nearby Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve, a 4000ha property that holds more than 40 species of game, including buffalo and lion.
Tours to do
There are many tours and packages available for travelling up and down the Wild Coast. See the listed Wild Coast website for options.
You’re at the southern gateway to the Wild Coast. It's best to have your own transport in this area to best explore its attractions.
What will it cost
The area has accommodation options to suit all pockets, from backpacking establishments to more exclusive lodges.
Length of stay
Spend two days or more if you can in Chintsa.
What to pack
Pack outdoor gear for Chintsa: beachwear, basic riding clothes, good walking shoes.
Where to stay
There are plenty of good places to stay in Chintsa – see the listed websites for details.
What to eat
Try the excellent seafood at Michaela’s Restaurant.
At the end of July Chintsa holds the Wild Coast Wet 'n Wild Festival, a two-day affair packed with marathon runs, mountain-biking events, and races with inflatable boats and quad bikes.
Somewhere on the Wild Coast you will have a chance to purchase a traditional Pondo smoking pipe.