Pondo-Voyager Hiking Trail
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 at 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 a lick of luxury on the final night, hikers are sure to leave feeling revitalised and enlightened.
- Trip Duration5 Hike Days / 5 Nights – extra 'lay' days can be taken.Extensions down to Port St Johns (8 days) also possible.
- Daily DistancesDay 1: 14kmDay 2: 14kmDay 3: 12-15kmDay 4: 16kmDay 5: 18km
- Trail Grading3 / 5 - Fitness. Easy gradient but some longer daily distances.2 / 5 - Technicality. Limited scrambling, some rock-hopping and potential river crossings.
- Trail TerrainCoastal Trail - traversing grasslands with deep forest ravines and gorges, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and passing through friendly Pondo villages.
- Accommodation1 Night Village Homestay (traditional mud & thatch rondavels, mattress on floor with bedding & bucket bath)1 Night Mtentu Lodge (Eco-camp/backpackers)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 SupportPartially-catered trail - catering provided by the village homestay, Mtentu lodge & MbotyiTented camps are fully equipped for self-catering.Guided for all days except through Mkambati NR.Porter support can be arranged on special request.
- Group SizePreferred min of 4 persons & max 14/ per single transfer
- PricingOn a group of 4 - 5 persons: R5500/pp
At a Glance
This is a 5 day / 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 and walking through to the 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.
- Day 1Arrival & Hike Day 1 : Wild Coast Casino – Nyameni (14km)
Leaving your vehicle in secure parking at the Wild Coast casino, you will meet your guide here. Today’s hike is mostly along the beach passing remnants of a petrified forest, through to the stunning Nyameni river and then on to the Xolobeni village for a night in a local homestay.
Overnight: Nyameni Village Homestay (Dinner)
- Day 2Hike Day 2: Nyameni to Mtentu (12-14km)
Today’s hike heads out through the cultivated fields of Xolobeni across the grasslands and over the red dunes through to Sikombe and on to Mtentu.
Overnight: Mtentu River Lodge (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)
- Day 3Hike Day 3: Mtentu – Msikaba (12-15km) – through Mkambati Nature Reserve. Self-guided day
Today’s self-guided hike traverses Mkambati Nature Reserve. Secret bays and waterfalls, baboon cave, palmiet rivers and zebra wave gazing.
Overnight: Msikaba tented camp (Breakfast & packed lunch from Mtentu. Self-cater dinner).
- Day 4Hike Day 4: Msikaba - Luphuthana (16km)
Todays 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.
Overnight: Luphuthana tented camp (self-cater)
- Day 5Hike Day 5: Luphuthana – Mbotyi River Lodge (18.5km)
Another long day but without major ascents. 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, the Views from the top of Drew’s Camp looking down towards Mbotyi where you will enjoy the comfort of Mbotyi River Lodge for this final night.
Overnight: Mbotyi River Lodge (self-cater breakfast & lunch. Dinner at Mbotyi)
- Day 6Departure Day
Breakfast than private transfer back to the Wild Coast Casino (approx 3hrs)
1 Night Village Homestay (traditional mud & thatch rondavels, mattress on floor with bedding & bucket bath)
1 Night Mtentu Lodge (Eco-backpacker)
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)
- Can this hike be shortened or lengthened?
It is possible to spend an extra day-night at any of the overnight locations. We can highly recommend a second night at Mtentu lodge, where catering is provided. The paddle-hike to Swallowtail falls is an unforgettable experience. If you looking for a shorter version of this trail – try our Mtentu Explorer.
- Is it possible to organise vehicle luggage transfers on this hike?
Not without a lot of extra cost. Local porters are a better option, but they also are a little tricky to arrange on this particular hike as the hike crosses over a number of guide-porter territories.
- What type of footwear is appropriate?
A hiking type shoe or trail sneaker, with some good grip, is perfect.
- 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. Best to try avoid the busy school holiday periods though. Winter months offer a wonderful and stable climate for hiking and the annual sardine run brings with it game fish, schools of dolphin, and pelagic birds. Getting into Mbotyi hotel over sardine season is a challenge though.
- Is it possible to have catering provided the whole way?
Unfortunately it’s not possible to have catering provided at the tented camps unless you go with the pondo-hopper option in this stretch which will significantly increase the price. However, the tented camps are fully equipped for self-catering – so you just need to bring your own food. It is also possible to do this trail in reverse so you get the self-catering nights done in the beginning of the hike.
At a Glance
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Whats included in this tour
- 5 Nights Accom (sharing basis):
- 1 night in village-based homestay with dinner & breakfast provided
- 1 Night at Mtentu Lodge (with dinner, breakfast & packed lunch)
- 2 Nights (self-catered) in twin-bed tented camps with en suite bathrooms (Msikaba & Luphuthana)
- 1 Night at Mbotyi River Lodge (DBB)
- Hiking Guide: for 4 hike days. Hike Day 3 – through Mkambati Nature Reserve is a self-guided day
- Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner from 1st night homestay & Mtentu. Dinner & breakfast from Mbotyi. * Need to self-cater for the 2 nights in the tented camps
- Transfers: private transfer from Mbotyi –3hr transfer back to Port Edward/ Wild Coast Casino
- Canoes - available at Mtentu & Msikaba camps