TRANSKEI WILD COAST TRIP REPORT
Winter on the Transkei Coast has always been a good time of the year to visit, no soaring summer temperatures and unbearable humidity levels which also comes with the Mozzies and unpleasantly hot nights. We had really good weather and were very lucky to miss the big storms moving up from the Cape by a few days.
It was an eight day trip, starting off in the southern area and finishing up in the north, hugging the coast line as much as we could. I also tried to stay in the reserves wherever possible, there are a few nice reserves in the Transkei offering good accommodation and of course the all-important remoteness and security, away from the crowds.
It was to be an off road trip but without the radical extremities that we sometimes do. There were places where a 4x2 could have driven with ease, but there were also a few places where low ratio was the better choice of gearing for good vehicle and speed control. Our first night was spent at the very comfortable and friendly Haven Hotel situated in the Dwesa Nature Reserve.
The Haven is situated almost on the beach and so has splendid sea views from the chalets and within a two minute walking distance to a pristine beach. The meals are really good and with ample portions of tasty dish es to choose from. For us it was a one night stop over which did not give us much time to explore the reserve as much as we would have liked to but what we saw has great. The Hotel owners, Sue, and her husband were fantastic hosts and making sure that we were very comfortable and wanted for nothing. Leaving Durban at 06h00 and taking a leisurely drive via Kokstad had us arriving just in time for lunch, so the distances are not too great at all and there’s always something of interest to attract your attention once you turn off from the tar road and start heading towards the coast. Sunday night was braai night which was a real treat for us carnivores, and with a cold beer and a fantastic sea view, life was good on the Wild Coast. The following morning, after a tasty breakfast we left for the Hole in the Wall Hotel, around 70 kilometers away.
Although only a short distance away, it would take us a few hours of interesting driving through the hills and valleys to get there. Having seen the hole in the wall on many occasions through the thousands of pictures and videos, it’s still a breathtaking sight to see it in reality for the very first time. What an awesome sight nature has provided us with, so amazing in fact, we made sure that we saw it in both high and low tides. The high waters rushing through the hole is quite spectacular.
Our accommodation for the next two nights were in comfortable chalets, and depending on the luck of the draw, a splendid sea view from the verandah.
Our time here was spent driving out to the various amazing scenic spots where we could stop off and simply take in the awesome scenery with big cliffs, clear waters and large crashing waves. Something one does not tire easily from. It’s at times like these that we wish we could simply slow the clock down and give us more time to take in all this beauty around us. Next stop was around 100 interesting kilometers away and would take us most of the day to get to the remote and secluded Hluleka Nature reserve.
The route would take us through Coffee Bay, which also had a good stop over point at the Ocean View hotel for a bite to eat and something cold. Hluleka is set in a dense coastal forest with standalone “A” frame chalets, each with fantastic sea views and only a very short walk to the beach. The chalets are the Eastern Cape Tourism’s pride and joy and as such are very well kept and are neat, tidy and comfortable. We were here for two nights and would again be visiting the various view points, each with its own interesting sights. One view point with its crashing waves on the cliffs and rocks below was clearly cut out for a really good sundowner point, and we did not miss out on the opportunity, and from there, the short drive back for an evening braai at camp, what a way to finish off a splendid day on the Wild Coast.
The view whilst lying in bed and watching the moon creep up into the sky above was cause for a night cap or two or three before putting head to pillow for the night. Sometimes it really is a pity that it has to end. Unfortunately our time in this part of paradise had come to an end and we were now headed for the Umngazana River Bungalows around 80kilometers away, and not far from Port st Johnsor the Umngazi River Bungalows. The evening was spent on a large deck overlooking the Mgazana River and the hills beyond, swapping the day’s war stories and generally just having a good time, with a braai of course, we were all South Africans and this is what happens in SA. Once again, the accommodation was very comfortable and clean and well positioned overlooking the river below.
This was a single night stop over and the next morning had us off to Port st.Johns for breakfast at the old river harbor before heading off for Mbotyi lodge around 80 kms away via Lusikisiki. En route we visited the Magwa falls which has a 142 meter deep and impressive gorge which the water drops into. The Magwa Tea Estate is one of the largest Black tea leaves plantations to be foundin the world and provides many locals with an opportunity for the much needed employment in the area.
There are also normal tea plantations which are processed on site and sold in the area. It is said that the black tea is a healthier tea thanthe more popular and better known, Green Tea. Mbotyi Lodge has a fine setting on the edge of the Mbotyi River on one side and the ocean on the other, both within a few easy steps away. The Chalets are comfortable and the lodge has a large dining room and bar area set next to the big swimming pooland spacious lawn area. Sadly this was our last night on the wild coast, but itwas a good place to end it all off after an exciting few days on the Wild Coast with good company and many pleasant memories to take home.We will be back.