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    Wild Coast Region

Welcome To Wild Coast Region

About Wild Coast Region

This really is one of the true hidden gems of South Africa.

For a long time only known to a handful of surfers, fishermen and backpackers, the Wild Coast is rapidly becoming more popular as a destination for adventure and nature-seekers alike.

The Wild Coast covers the entire region from East London up to the with KwaZulu-Natal border, and was previously part of the Transkei - the “independent homeland” created during the apartheid era which covered most of the Wild Coast. It is one of the least developed areas of the country and a good place to encounter the truly traditional lifestyle of the amaXhosa tribe.

The Wild Coast has the most fascinating history, the stories and legends of which could take hours to tell. So here are a few highlights…

The Kei Mouth lies on the frontline of the buffer zone created by the British after the 8th Frontier War. In order to protect it, the area was populated with white farmers and their families. A rather basic of fort of sand and ditches, along with a detachment of British soldiers, was established here, but was useless against the amaXhosa. So, when the 9th Frontier War began in 1878, the local farmers packed what they could onto their wagons and fled. The remains of the fort lie adjacent to Old Fort Road.

Mthatha, previously spelled Umtata, has a slightly longer and ultimately more modern history. It was a military post for the colonial forces in 1882, and ultimately the town was founded in 1883, along the banks of the Mthatha River. It became the leading administrative centre of the area, with both Anglican and Catholic cathedrals as well as the traditional authorities.

The South African Native College was founded in 1916, supported by traditional leaders as well as early twentieth-century white liberals, many of them clergy. Ironically, the college was built on the site of a British Military stronghold (hence the name). It was subsequently renamed Fort Hare University and then in 1977 was again renamed the University of the Transkei (as part of development of “independent homelands” by the National Party Government).
The religious tradition at the heart of Fort Hare’s origin, shared by blacks and whites alike, heralded "plain living and high thinking‟, and had a form of education that was undeniably Eurocentric. However it did not make the assumption, unfortunately central to the Bantu Education implemented in South Africa from the 1950's, that black Africans required or deserved a different, inferior education to whites.

Thus the University of Fort Hare produced graduates from South Africa and as far north as Kenya and Uganda, who were as good as the best anywhere else in Africa. Many went on to prominent careers in fields as diverse as politics, medicine, literature and art. Some politically active alumni include Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Robert Sobukwe, Robert Mugabe and Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (Source: University of Fort Hare www.ufh.ac.za)
After the end of apartheid, the original name of the University of Fort Hare was reinstated. In more recent history, Mthatha has received prominence as being the closest town to the ancestral village, Mvezo of Nelson Mandela as well as his own private residence in Qunu.

For those who want to give the weird clicks of the isiXhosa language, the Q in Qunu is pronounced with a click, by rolling your tongue forward from the back of the roof of your mouth to make a click sound (sometimes used in other languages as a sound of irritation). Most rather just go for the Anglicised KOO-nu, but learning the different clicks is great fun.

Most people think of the name, Wild Coast, as being for its untouched nature, but more likely, it was named for the rough seas and pounding breakers that have wrecked many a ship over the years. Probably the most famous shipwreck is that of the SS Waratah, a 500 foot steamer which disappeared en route from Durban to Cape Town. To this day, no trace of the ship has ever been found. The wrecks of two other ships, the Jacaranda (1971) and the SV Idomene (1887) are still visible from beaches around Qolora Mouth.

Things to see and do on the Wild Coast
Well, this list could go on for pages…
The Wild Coast offers all the activities that you would expect from a beautiful, untouched coastline. This is a great part of South Africa for #thrillseekers.
This includes pretty much all things aquatic from diving to surfing to fishing – all at a pace of your choosing. Of course, the beautiful rivers and lagoons allow for great swimming, canoeing and just generally splashing around which makes these venues ideal for #family holidays.

For nature lovers, the towering cliffs and indigenous forests supply wonderful trails where birdlife abound. More serious hiking opportunities abound - both along the rolling hills as well as on the secluded beaches. Some places offer horse-riding, quad bikes, mountain bikes and 4x4tours for trails all over the coast.

And probably most interesting are the local amaXhosa homesteads, where it feels like time has stood still. You can still observe (and often take part in) some of the traditional activities. You can even learn to stick fight (the local version of fencing), a popular game amongst the youngsters. In the deeply rural areas, only isiXhosa is spoken, so it is advisable to take a guide who can translate for you.

The Wild Coast Climate is sub-tropical, which makes it ideal to visit all year round. Those who are not keen on humidity should probably give the height of summer a miss, but spring and autumn have glorious beach days, and winter is absolutely perfect for hiking.

The warm Benguela current of the Indian Ocean comes down from Mozambique and keeps the sea at a pleasant temperature all year round. Yes, you can swim in winter without turning into an icicle.

Keep in mind that these are all popular destinations for South Africans with holiday homes and families. We would recommend that you keep track of any school holidays or long-weekends, where some of the small towns virtually double in population. The towns then take on a local beach resort feel, which can be ideal for those travelling with families. For those who want the beaches to themselves, try and avoid these dates. This information is easy to find online every year.

Quick Facts

Located: The Eastern Cape
Country: South Africa

Why go?

True to its name, this rugged wilderness area has a spectacular coastline, jagged cliffs and sheltered bays. The beaches are some of the best in the country, and combined with the rivers; rolling hills and valleys, make for the ultimate hiker’s paradise. This is one of the few places in the world where pristine waterfalls drop directly into the Indian Ocean.

The ancient cycad forests, growing right down to the cliffs and beaches, are a haven for all types of wildlife. For birdwatchers, there are approximately 320 species that make this area their home. For those who prefer the sea life, whales and dolphins are often spotted along the coastline as they move from the Antarctic waters to their summer feeding grounds. Around July and August, you could even be lucky enough to see a Southern Right or Humpback whale mother with her calf.

The Wild Coast is populated by quaint villages, usually positioned around tiny bays or on the mouths of the many scenic rivers which flow into the sea. Many of these comprise only a few holiday houses with traditional homesteads dotted around the surrounding hills.

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Top places to visit in Wild Coast Region

View everything this beautiful region has to offer

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Qora River Mouth
Kei Mouth
Haga Haga
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Mazeppa Bay
Morgan Bay