Pondo-Hopper Hiking Trail

Keen to hike the most rugged and pristine section of Wild Coast, but don't feel like the schlep of planning and preparing meals? Provided your hike is planned for outside of the holidays, we can offer a fully supported and catered version of the 3 & 5 night Pondo-Explorer trail.

You will overnight at the same East African style tented camps, and your main bag will be transferred from camp to camp, so you need only hike with a light daypack. Dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch for each trail day, will be provided, and your third night is spent at Mbotyi River Lodge.

  • Trip Duration3 or 5 Night Std Hike Options
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 16km Day 2: 19km Day 3: 10km Day 4: 10km Day 5: 13km
  • Trail Grade3 / 5 - Fitness. Easy gradient for first 2 days but higher daily distances. More hills on Day’s 3 & 4.2 / 5 - Technicality. Limited scrambling. Some sheer sections for viewpoints (optional).
  • Trail TerrainCoastal Trail - traversing grasslands with deep forest ravines and gorges, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and passing through friendly Pondo villages.
  • AccommodationTented Camps - twin bedded safari tents with ensuite ablutions & hot shower (bring own sleeping bags). Central kitchen & dining boma.1 Night at Mbotyi River Lodge
  • Logistic SupportThis is a fully catered and vehicle-supported hiking trailLocal Hiking Guide included
  • Group SizePreferred minimum of 4 - 6 personsMaximum of 22 persons/group
  • PricingOn a group of 6-9 persons: R9,800/pp for the 5 Night Hopper
At a Glance

Overnighting in the same East African style tented camps as the pondo-explorer. Your main backpack will be portered from camp to camp, so you need only hike with a light daypack. Dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch for each trail day will be provided by the tented camps and your third night is spent at Mbotyi River hotel.

The tented camps all have superb locations - sheltered under the milkwoods overlooking an estuary, or perched on a hillside offering panoramic sea views. This supported hike is a fantastic trail to do with a group of friends looking for a hike that is within reach of the average hiker and with enough activities - like canoeing up the estuaries, fishing and swimming, to keep everyone entertained.

  1. Day 1Arrival & Transfer Day

    Self-drive to Port St Johns (5 night trail) or Mbotyi (3 night trail), leaving your vehicle in secure parking and we will transfer you to Msikaba, the trailhead, for your first nights accommodation. No hiking this day.

    Overnight: Msikaba Camp (Dinner)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Msikaba to Luphuthana Camp (16km)

    Today's hike is mostly walking on the plateau above the cliffs. The vestiges of treasure quests at Grosvenor, Goss’s Point and the stunning Mkweni estuary as well as the fantastic spray display at Luphuthana are highlights of the day.

    Overnight: Luphuthana Camp (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: Luphuthana – Mbotyi River Lodge (18km)

    A long day but without major ascent. Trail highlights include: Top Hat, Waterfall Bluff (an 80m high waterfall which plunges directly into the ocean), Cathedral Rock, Mfihlelo Waterfall, freshwater swimming pools on the Mlambomkulu river, and the views from the top of Drew’s Camp looking down towards Mbotyi, where you will enjoy the comfort of Mbotyi River Lodge for the night.

    Overnight: Mbotyi River Lodge (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  4. Day 4Hike Day 3: Mbotyi River Lodge - Manteku (10km)

    The terrain becomes more undulating after Mbotyi. Trail highlights: friendly rural villages, sweeping vistas from the hilltops, Manteku mangrove estuary with prolific birdlife, canoeing up Manteku Estuary.

    Overnight: Manteku Camp (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  5. Day 5Hike Day 4: Manteku – Ntafufu (10km) (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

    Trail highlights: Black Sands, beach before Ntafufu, Ntafufu River Crossing.

    Overnight: Ntafufu Camp (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  6. Day 6Hike Day 5: Ntafufu - PSJ (13km / 4.5-5hr hike)

    Trail Highlights: Dome Bluff, golden miles of beach through to Poenskop

    ETA: Groups arrive back in PSJ from midday to early afternoon

1 Night at Mbotyi River Lodge – Lagoon View Chalets.

2 / 4 Nights Tented Camps - twin bedded safari tents on wooden platforms under thatch boma's with ensuite ablutions & hot water gas shower. Central kitchen & dining boma where meals will be served. * You do need to bring your own sleeping bag & towel for these tented camps.

Breakfast at Ntafufu Tented Camp
Mbotyi River Lodge - Estuary & Seaview
  1. How do I get to the start of the trail?

    If you are self-driving, we will collect you from the hike finish-point: Port St Johns for both the 3 and 5 night trails. You will leave your vehicle in secure parking here and then be transferred to Msikaba (5 day trail) or Mbotyi (3 day trail). This transfer is included in the hike price.

    If you are flying, we can arrange private transfers from the airport. Mtata is the closest airport (1.5hr from PSJ) but the only direct flights there, are from JHB. Durban or East London are the next closest airports (5- 6hr transfer). If the group is flying – we can arrange transfers directly to Msikaba (trail-head) and back from Port St Johns (trail-end) – please request a quote for these extra transfers.

  2. What is the best time of year for this trail?

    The Wild Coast has a very temperate climate so can be hiked all year round, but from about March through to November tend to be better months i.t.o less rainfall. Winter months offer a wonderful and stable climate for hiking and the annual sardine run brings lots of marine action.

    We unfortunately cannot offer this supported hiking trail over any school or public holiday period as the tented camps give priority to longer-stay bookings over these times.

  3. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    For this trail, heavier hiking boots are not necessary. A hiking type shoe or trail running sneaker with good grip is perfect.

  4. Do you cater for vegetarians and other dietary constraints?

    Vegetarian is no problem at all, but we do need to be given good advance warning. Other dietary constraints need to be assessed on a case-by-case scenario and a surcharge may apply.

  5. What about drinks?

    Tea and coffee, and juice at meals is provided, but for all other drinks (both alcoholic and soft) – you will need to bring your own, and these will be transferred along with your bags from camp to camp by the support vehicle. Space is limited, and the roads are rough, so your drinks need to be properly packaged (cooler or box) and please avoid glass.

  6. Can this hike be shortened or lengthened?

    The 3 and 5 night trails are the standard catered options. It is possible to spend an extra catered day-night at some of the tented camps - to be quoted for.

5 Night/ 5 Day Pondo-Hopper

Group SizePrice (PP) 
4-5 Persons
R12 500/pp
6-9 Persons
R9 800/pp
10-15 Persons
R9 400/pp
16 or more
R9 100/pp

3 Night / 3 Hike Day Pondo-Hopper

Group SizePrice (PP) 
6-9 Persons
R7 300/pp
10-13 Persons
R6 900/pp
14-16 Persons
R6 500/pp
17 or more
R6 200/pp
Whats included in this tour
  • Transfer from Port St Johns (or Mbotyi) to Msikaba trail head
  • 3/5 Nights Accommodation: 2/4 nights in tented camps, 1 night at Mbotyi hotel
  • Full Catering: DBB + Packed Lunch from all the tented camps & Mbotyi hotel
  • Daily Luggage Transfers
  • Local Guide for all hike days
  • Reserve Permits & Trail Fees
  • Canoes – available at Msikaba & Manteku Camps
  • Emergency Support Service