The Wild Coast is a portion of the shore of one of South Africa’s provinces, the Eastern Cape. The section extends from East London in the south to the KwaZulu-Natal border in the north. It is the traditional home of the Xhosa folk, and the birthplace of numerous significant South Africans, including the famous Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
As its name implies, the Wild Coast that runs through the Mtamvuna River in the north and the Great Kei River in the south, is a natural untamed wilderness. It is an extraordinary, modest mixture of awe-inspiring shoreline, jagged precipices, wild and isolated beaches, private bays and lush green undulating hills that roll into the deeply etched river valleys.
Included in the Wild Coast is the area that was once the Transkei which, mostly due to the lack of infrastructure, abandonment and the fact that it isn’t simple to just ‘fly in’ for a weekend, has guaranteed that a substantial amount of more than 200 kilometre shoreline is practically inaccessible to everyone but those willing to hike it or travel through it on horseback. The splendour of the coast is not disturbed by much, excluding the odd group of thatched rondavel huts, and is essentially unoccupied.
The Wild Coast region acted as a border for most of the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was rampant with conflict between the British colonists and the rural Xhosa folk who resided in colourful and vibrant cultural existence in this magnificent area. The birth site of Nelson Mandela (‘Madiba’) is an effortlessly untouched place that is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
The climate is mostly always mild, only experiencing a couple of days when the sun does not shine brightly and clearly. Forested regions include prehistoric cycads, sneezewood and yellowwood trees, and places dense with plant life. The skies often carry the cries of the fish eagle, and the audible commotion of bird noises are a mixture of ocean, coastal and inland birds.
Explore the traditions and customs of the local Xhosa folk, pay a visit to Madiba’s birth site, and at the Umtata’s Nelson Mandela Museum you will be educated about the remarkable uplifting life of a person who led South Africa into her current democracy.
Countless rivers run into the ocean along the Wild Coast. In the southernmost sections of the area, where the hills are smaller, the rivers tend to be more mature and are characterised by broad floodplains. However, in the rough north where young rivers discover their route to the ocean barricaded by enormous cliffs, many of the rivers (including Waterfall Bluff) flow over the jagged precipices into the wild waves beneath.
Small, sandy bays and lengthy expanses of vast beaches are frequently found near the mouths of large rivers, such as the Kei, Mthatha, Mbashe, and Mzimyuba. Estuaries, bays and headlands are in abundance, while rough coasts dominate, be they smooth wave-cut platforms with pointy and uneven surfaces that plummet into the ocean.
Approximately half of the shoreline is made up of indigenous forest vegetation and numerous forest species that were once unknown to the scientific world. Around 900 forest and grassland species from the beautiful Wild Coast area have been identified as having commercial, traditional or homeopathic significance. This region is a must see for all those travelling through the area.