Two humpback whale breaching together, Wild Coast, South Africa.
Vacations to the Wild Coast, South Africa
As you stroll along the white-sand beaches of this stunning corner of the world, you might not believe you were in Africa. This scene is one that would not be out of place in New Zealand, even Ireland, but before you know it, the sun is up and heat of the day is upon you, leaving no doubt that you are on South Africa’s Wild Coast.
This is one of the most untouched regions in the whole of South Africa. Undulating hills are met by verdant forest, all dotted with rural Xhosa settlements in their iconic colorful round huts. Here, Africa is embraced by the Indian Ocean and all of its hidden coral reefs, yet the hills are grazed by cattle, who often venture onto the shores,.
Don’t be mistaken, though, this destination is called the Wild Coast for a reason. The waves are powerful and inhabited by sharks in some areas, although wave riders will plenty of surfable spots and wakeboarding opportunities. The crashing tides have even created famous formations like the Hole in the Wall. According to local legend, this impressive blowhole in a striking rock formation was created when a young woman and a sea person fell in love. Aided by a giant fish, the sea person is said to have cracked open the hole to reach her, and she was never seen again. The echoes you can hear of the pounding waves are said to be her voice calling from the ocean. Hiking to see this famous point is a must on any Wild Coast itinerary, and it will show you why locals call this region ‘esiKhaleni’ – ‘the place of sound.’
The claim to fame of the Wild Coast is that it is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. Visit Mvezo, where he was born, or head to Qunu, where he grew up, for a fascinating guided tour of the sites that the young leader frequented in his formative years. You can even slide down a polished rock where this legendary figure once played. At the end of the day, retire to a town to dine on mouth-watering curry and fish frikkadels with locals.
The Wild Coast is a natural haven. Drive to Mount Ethesinger at sunset for panoramic views across the rolling hills, or tour some of the nearby waterfalls. The Magwa Falls and Angel Falls are both beautiful cascades, surrounded by lush forests. At the Mkambati Nature Reserve you can even experience one of the few waterfalls in the world that falls right into the sea. Canoe through river gorges or take a cruise to see the ample bird life, or even catch one of many species of local fish.
Wildlife lovers will not want to leave the Wild Coast. Visit the Hluleka Nature Reserve to spot zebras grazing on open fields, as well as other species including bushbuck, eland, impala, wildebeest and blue duiker. You might even spot dolphins or whales off the coast!
Explore South Africa’s most impressive, unspoilt landscapes
Visit the birthplace of Nelson Mandela
Lounge on stunning beaches, or seek out fascinating fossils
Visit Hole in the Wall - one of the most impressive landmarks along the South African coastline