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5 Day trail offering a diverse Wild Coast Experience - Northern Pondoland

The northern Pondoland region of the Wild Coast, stretching from the Mtamvuna River at Port Edward down to the Mzimvubu River of Port St John's, is of greater accessibility to hiking groups coming from Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal.

Starting out at the Wild Coast Casino and finishing either at Mkambati (3 hike days) or Mbotyi (5 hike days), this hike traverses some of the most rugged and pristine terrain of the Wild Coast and provides an eclectic mix of experiences for the adventurous hiker. The scenery is wild and undulating. Settling into a homestay for the first night among the local people offers a unique and enlightening experience. Blended with secluded bush camps and an optional lick of luxury on the final night, hikers are sure to leave feeling revitalised and enlightened.

Trail Description

We offer a 5 night hiking trail starting at the Wild Coast Casino and finishing at Mbotyi.Led by a passionate local guide, hikers will be treated to warm amaXhosa hospitality at a village homestay in Xolobeni on the first night of the trail. The second night is spent at a community lodge on the gorgeous Mtentu estuary, before entering Mkambati Nature Reserve - either sleeping in the reserve or continuing through to Msikaba River, where a night will be spent in an East African style tented camp, nestled amongst the milkwoods. Canoes are available from the camp, and guests can finish the day with a sunset paddle up the estuary.

The fourth day's hike takes you from Msikaba to Luphuthana, passing the site of the fated Grosvenor shipwreck and the remnants of the pioneering attempts to recover her treasure. Overnighting at another tented camp, hikers can enjoy sundowners whilst watching the natural spray display that is created from waves crashing up against the flat rock shelf at Luphuthana.

The final day's hike from Luphuthana to Mbotyi is the longest, but the renowned landmarks of Waterfall Bluff, Cathedral Rock and Mfhilo falls make for exciting exploration! Finishing at Mbotyi, hikers can treat themselves to a final night of luxury offered by Mbotyi River Lodge. enquire with Active Escapes


Trip Duration 5 Day/ 5 Night Trail
Daily Distances Day 1: 14km    Day 2: 12-14km    Day 3: 12-15km
Day 4: 16km    Day 5: 17.5km
Trail Grading  
Physical Fitness Grade 3 –easy gradient but some longer daily distances
Technicality Grade 2 - some scrambling, rock-hopping and river crossings
Trail Terrain Coastal Trail – traversing grasslands with deep forest ravines and gorges, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and friendly Pondo villages.
Accommodation 1 Night: Village Homestay (traditional mud & thatch rondavels, mattress on floor with bedding & bucket bath)
1 Night: Mtentu Lodge
2 Nights: Safari Tented Camps - twin bedded safari tents on wooden platforms under thatch boma's with ensuite ablutions & hot water gas shower.
1 Night:Mbotyi River Lodge (hotel)
Logistic Support Partially-Catered Trail:
Catering provided by the village homestays, Mtentu lodge & Mbotyi
Semi-luxury tented camps are fully equipped for self-catering.
Guides & Porters:
Guide all the way & porters can be arranged on special request.
Tour Highlights Friendly amaXhosa hospitality, Mtentu Estuary, waterfalls & game viewing in Mkambati Reserve; sunset paddle up the Msikaba estuary and a visit to the Vulture Colony; excavation remains of treasure-seekers at Grosvenor, shipwrecks, golden miles of unspoilt beach, incredible spray display at Luphuthana, Waterfall Bluff, Cathedral Rock, Mfhilo Falls, natural swimming pools on the Mlambomkulu.
Other Activities Canoeing on Msikaba Estuaries (canoes available free from the camps), excellent rock & surf fishing, birding, ocean swimming and snorkelling opportunities.
Fauna & Flora The Pondoland Centre of Endemism is one of the most important centres of plant diversity & endemism in Africa with over 2 253 recorded flora species, 196 of which are endemic to the region.
Climate Mild sub-tropical climate with small seasonal temperature variation. Summer months (Nov - Feb), avg max daily temperatures of around 27-29 degrees celsius whilst winter months (June - Aug) avg 21 deg C. Night temps seldom drops below 10 deg C in winter and average around 15 deg C in summer. Most rain is received from summer thunderstorms (avg of 150mm/month in Nov - Feb), whilst the driest months, June-Aug produce an average of 40mm/month.
Seasonality & Best Time Year Due to its temperate climate, Pondoland is good for hiking all year round. Whilst summer days can be quite sweaty, a refreshing swim in the ocean or river enroute becomes all the more inviting. Summer rainfall is usually in the form of quick thundershowers which pass quickly. Summer is also best for birdlife. The mild weather, sunny days and low probability of rain during winter also make this an excellent time (and a welcome retreat from the biting cold of an interior winter). Spring and Autumn months generally combine the best of all conditions.

Availability: This trail is easiest to organise outside of the peak school holiday periods. However, it may be possible to organise during less busy school holidays.
Group Size Preferred minimum of 4 persons - maximum 14 persons per single transfer
Price / PP Price dependent on customised route / itinerary but indicative costing on a 5 Night /5 Day Hike is as follows:

4-5 Persons: R 4900/pp
6-7 Persons: R 4600/pp
8-10 Persons: R 4400/pp
11 or more: R 4250/pp

Optional Extra's:
Extra Days at Mbotyi Lodge can be arranged for approx R850pp - DBB
Price Includes
  • 5 Nights Accom: 1 night in village homestay with Dinner, Bed & Breakfast (Nyameni). 1 night in Mtentu Lodge (3 meals incl)
    2 Nights (self-catering) in twin-bed luxury tented camps - ensuite bathrooms (Msikaba & Luphuthana)
    1 night in Mbotyi Hotel (DBB)
  • Local Hiking Guide for all 5 Hike Days
  • Private Taxi Transfer: from Mbotyi (finish point) back to Wild Coast Casino (start point)
  • All meals - except 2 nights self-catered in tented camps

semi-luxury tented camp at Msikaba, Pondoland Wild Coast

If staying in a village homestay isn't really your thing, then why not try the Pondo-Explore where you can overnight in semi-luxury tented camps all the way.

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hikers prepare for a river crossing at Mtentu River on the Pondo-Villager hiking trail
the hiking path contours around the top of the rocky ledge, as walkers make their way to Waterfall Bluff