The Wild Coast Jikeleza Route
Did you know?
Jikeleza is an isiXhosa word that means 'to go around'.
The region covered by the Wild Coast Jikeleza Route is among the most carefree areas on the planet, ideal for taking time off from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life.
Along the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast, most locals are only concerned with subsistence living and, as such, are very easy going and unassuming folk.
The Wild Coast Jikeleza Route stretches from Gonubie, just outside East London, up to Chefane along the coast and Kwelerha in the Great Kei area. The route can be comfortably completed in a day, although this is not nearly enough time to get a good feel for the area.
The Jikeleza Route is an interesting mix of coastal and rural experiences. You are, for example, likely to come across Nguni cattle strolling leisurely along the beach, something you're unlikely to see anywhere else in the world.
The beautiful beaches along the Wild Coast are indeed one of the main highlights for most explorers. Cintsa, for example, boasts a magnificent 15km stretch of sand, with rock pools and other natural gems to explore on a long, meandering walk.
Because of their remote location, these beaches remain mostly undisturbed by hordes of visitors, with facilities that run from the very basic to the non-existent. But who needs facilities in an Eden like this!
Some of the more popular activities along the Jikeleza Route include hiking, boating, kayaking, horse riding on the beach, abseiling, shell collecting, surf angling, mountain biking and surfing.
Wildlife that visitors are likely to spot along the route includes vervet monkeys, duiker, bush pig and mongoose.
If you are determined to see the Big 5 during your travels through South Africa, you can do so along the Wild Coast by visiting the Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve, which is just 30km from East London.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Wild Coast Jikeleza Route
Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)43 734 3234
How to get here
Fly into East London or Port Elizabeth and either hire a vehicle or join a Jikeleza Route tour. By road from Durban, take the N2 for 41km past the Kei bridge where the turnoff is signposted. From East London, take the N2 towards Mthatha. About 5km past the Gonubie turnoff, take the Brakfontein turnoff. At the top of the bridge turn right and continue for 2km. Take a left at the Schafli Road and East Coast Resorts sign. This is the start of the Jikeleza Route.
Best time to visit
The Wild Coast experiences warm weather throughout the year, so there's never a bad time to visit. Accommodation during the December holiday period, however, can be hard to come by.
Around the area
The Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve has four-star accommodation, an excellent restaurant, and plenty of wildlife, including the Big Five.
Your own vehicle is best if you want to explore the area at your own pace. Package and guided tours along the route are also available.
Length of stay
You can do the entire route in a day but you will miss plenty. Rather spend at least a week relaxing and exploring the area.
What to pack
Always pack plenty of sunscreen and a hat. Sturdy walking shoes or boots are also recommended.
Where to stay
All of the towns along the Wild Coast offer accommodation in some form. The Jikeleza Route is home to some excellent self-catering beach cottages, caravan parks and backpackers which offer views across the Indian Ocean. Alternatively, the city of East London has plenty of accommodation options.
The Wet 'n' Wild Festival, which features various watersports and outdoor activities, takes place annually in Cintsa, usually in early July.
Local Xhosa and Pondo crafts along the route are excellent take-home items.