My second trip to the Wild Coast was probably my favourite trip I went on during my Year Abroad. In March, we had a one-week mid-semester break so a few friends and I decided to make the most of it and really get out there – spend as much time outside as we could, do something we’d never done before, explore a different part of South African culture and see some amazing places.
One of my travel buddies had heard about this five-day hike along the Wild Coast that was supposed to be amazing. The company who organises the hike is called Wild Side Hiking and as soon as we checked their website, we were hooked. ‘Rolling hills, pristine beaches, untouched nature’? ‘Breathtaking views, friendliness of the local people’? Hell yes! We contacted Albert via whatsapp who immediately replied and we were told the dates on which there would be hikes leaving Port St John’s towards Coffee Bay. A few days later, we were at a travel agency, booking our flights to Durban and back from East London. We were ready for our overall ten-day backpacking adventure in one of the most beautiful and exciting areas of South Africa.
We decided to leave the Western Cape as early as we could and got a plane out of Cape Town on a Thursday night, after everyone finished their classes for the week. The first night was to be spent in Durban. The backpackers we stayed in wasn’t that great but we really just had to spend the night there and left early the next day anyway.
This time around, we decided not to hire a car as it would have been too complicated with the hike, and made use of public transport instead. Albert made sure to tell us exactly where to go and when and what bus we would have to catch. The taxi ranks in South African cities are massive, chaotic and confusing, but if you have the right people to help you out, they are fairly easy to use.
The buses have no schedules as such – they leave whenever they are full and you usually don’t have to wait too long to wait for the next one. But patience is key no matter what you do and where you go in South Africa.
The taxi went straight to Port St John’s and it was a pretty pleasant journey. It was fairly crammed but nothing that would have made it too uncomfortable. I also feel like it was definitely more of an authentic experience than driving a rented car so that was a nice change. The drive was about six hours and as far as I can remember, we didn’t stop along the way, unless people had to get off.
When we got to Port St John’s, we walked to Jungle Monkey Backpackers which was going to be our home for the few nights before the hike. We absolutely loved our stay there – the staff was super nice, the food (although it sometimes took a while) was delicious, everything was clean and they offered nice activities.
On our first full day in Port St John’s, we decided to go on a waterfall hike organised by the backpackers. The walk through the forest was pretty adventurous but so cool (and definitely do-able) and the reward was a refreshing swim in the waterfall (or you could jump off the top 0f the waterfall, if you felt brave enough).
In the evening, we went on a tour of the river. What was advertised as a sunset ‘booze cruise’ turned out to be a chilled time on a boat with a family celebrating a children’s birthday which we actually didn’t mind at all. There was also unfortunately not a sunset, but it was nice nonetheless.
Later that night, we finally got to meet Albert who introduced us to our guide, Lloyd, and both of them told us a bit more about the hike. They actually made us kind of nervous but we were excited to finally start. The next day was going to be the big day so we packed up a few things we didn’t need on the hike into bags that someone kindly took with them to Coffee Bay, and went to bed early to get a good night’s sleep.
check out my first trip to the Wild Coast right here