Hiking at Sea Level - Wild Coast Sun to Mbotyi
In search of some warmer weather away from the Drakensberg we have just completed a five day, 89 kilometre guided hike (Elevation gain/loss: 1789m / -1778m) from Port Edward to Mbotyi. It was an unforgettable experience!
Each night we stayed in huts in villages along the way. The huts are those of widows and the money generated helps them earn an income. Supper, breakfast and a basic lunch pack for each day's hike is provided. Bathing is in warm water in a washing basin every night. A shuttle (hired taxi) brought us back from Mbotyi.
Day 1 - 27 kilometres (Elevation gain/loss: 595m / -511m)
We started at the Wild Coast Sun just past Port Edward in the Eastern Cape Province and headed towards the golf course and then crossed the Mzamba river on a 153m suspension bridge. From here we walked towards the coastline and crossed over the Mpahlane river at the beach. The first of many river crossings during the next 5 days.
Shoes off and we set out for 11km's of hiking on the beach, crossing the Mnyameni river along the way. It's a lot more difficult than expected when hiking 11km's on sea sand. Next we trekked through the amazing red desert, which is the smallest in the world, for 4km's and then back towards the beach crossing at the Sikhombe river and a short 2.5km walk up to Mtentu village where we stayed on the first night.
Day 2 - 20 kilometres (Elevation gain/loss: 290m / -274m)
We left Mtentu village around 8am and after a short walk down to the beach, crossed the Mtentu river by paddle boat. The next 14km's were in the Mkhambathi nature reserve where we explored the Weolmi shipwreck and viewed Mkhambathi and Strandloper falls. Next was GweGwe beach for lunch followed by a paddle across the Msikaba river and a short uphill walk to Ndengane village for the evening.
Day 3 - 11 kilometres (Elevation gain/loss: 141m / -160m)
An easy hiking day for us which started with a walk down to Kilroe beach and some easy river crossings. We viewed the Mbaxeni pools and falls and after a short swim we hiked to the Grosvenor Shipwreck site (sank in 1782). The sardine run was visible from here, a never-ending silver line chased by birds, whales and over 100 dolphins, a truly amazing experience.
We then had lunch at the beautiful Lambasi bay followed by a few relaxing hours on the beach. Later in the afternoon we hiked up to Rhole village for the night.
Day 4 - 22 kilometres (Elevation gain/loss: 667m / -524m)
The most scenic of all the days walking along the cliffs looking down to the huge ocean waves crashing into the rocks. From the village we took a short hike down and crossed the Mkweni river (no paddle boat so it was a swim across with our backpacks) and got to Luphatana beach. Huge waves hit the ledge and exploded high up into the sky, a remarkable sight.
Next we hiked to Waterfall Bluff (one of only 19 waterfalls in the world that falls directly into the sea) and then onto Mamba pools for lunch and some cliff diving for those brave enough. A short distance further was Cathedral rock and Secret falls, a view that will long stay in our memories. We then took a short walk up to Cutwini village.
Day 5 - 9 kilometres (Elevation gain/loss: 96m / -309m)
We hiked down a steep hill to Shelly beach and on to Mbotyi to meet our taxi to Magwa Falls which is the second highest in South Africa at 144 metres and higher than Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
The falls are in the middle of the 1800-hectare Magwa tea plantations, the biggest remaining tea plantation in South Africa. After viewing the falls, our taxi drove us about 150km to our vehicles parked at the Wild Coast Sun.
Our Guide Bongani who grew up in the area was brilliant, he knows the route better than anyone, his knowledge of the shipwrecks over the years and history of the area is superb.