Pondo Wild Camper & VBA’s

So you've heard about the Xolobeni red sands, Waterfall Bluff and the wild hiking that Pondoland has to offer? Have a tent, cooker and a foldaway pot-set ... but looking for a guide, route, and some logistical support like an end-point transfer?

For the adventurous at heart, Active Escapes can arrange 'wild camping' trips accompanied by an experienced local guide, starting out from Port Edward and hiking through to Mkambati (3 day) , Mbotyi ( 5 day), or all the way down to Port St John's on an 8 day Pondo Epic.

If you really want to rough-it you can bring your own tent and food along, but we recommend getting a true wild coast experience by mixing this up with some overnights at friendly homestay's along the way. On certain nights there are also 'upgrade' options where you can capitalise on hot running water for a s...scrub and a shave!

  • Trip Duration3, 5 & 7-8 Day Trail Options
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 14km Day 2: 12kmDay 3: 15km Day 4: 16kmDay 5: 18km Day6/7: 10km
  • Trail Grading4 / 5 - Fitness. Carrying a backpack with food, tent and equipment requires multi-day hike experience, and a good level of cardio fitness3 / 5 - Technicality. Some scrambling, rock-hopping and river crossings
  • Trail TerrainCoastal Trail – traversing grasslands with deep forest ravines and gorges, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and friendly Pondo villages.
  • AccommodationWild camping near streams, sheltered clearings in dune forest and pristine locationsLocal village homestays - where simple meals are providedUpgraded accom options at certain locations - tented camps & a hotel
  • Logistic SupportIf wild camping – you will need to be entirely self-sufficient with your own tent, food & cooking equipment.Dinner & breakfast provided by the village homestays, community lodge and the hotel.* Exceptions: Porter-support can be arranged
  • Group SizeFrom 2 pax. No max, but recommend 12 pax max / per guide.
  • PricingFrom R2000/pp based on a group of 6 persons for the 5N Wild Camper
At a Glance

The Wild Camper requires that you are experienced backpackers and will come self-sufficient in terms of your own tent, sleeping bag and food provisions. Essentially, we provide the hiking guide to accompany you with his local knowledge for the best overnight locations, sourcing spring water etc, and we take care of the transfers at the end of the hike, to get you back to your starting point (a 3hr transfer from Mbotyi back to Port Edward).

If you chose the wild camper option, you can chose to overnight at a homestay on any of the nights, for an extra R350/pp (the cost of the homestay which includes a simple dinner, breakfast & snack).

  1. Day 1Arrival Day & Hike Day 1: Wild Coast Casino – Nyameni (14km)

    You can leave your vehicle in secure parking at the Wild Coast casino and 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 where you can camp for the evening.

  2. 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 then on to Mtentu.

    Overnight: at a local homestay close to Mtentu Lodge or on the northern bank of the Mtentu estuary.

  3. Day 3Hike Day 3: Mtentu – Msikaba (12-15km) – through Mkambati Nature Reserve.

    Today’s hike goes through Mkambati Nature Reserve. Secret bays and waterfalls, zebra and blesbok wave gazing.

    Overnight: camp on the Southern bank of the Msikaba River OR stay at Msikaba homestay.

  4. 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 & the stunning Mkweni estuary as well as the fantastic spray display at Luphuthana, are highlights.

    Overnight: camp on the Mlambomkulu river (freshwater pools for bathing) or in Waterfall Bluff cave.

  5. 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 spend your last night.

  6. Day 6Short hike & Departure Day

    Short hike through to Mbotyi (approx. 3.5km).

    Private transfer from Mbotyi back to the Casino, Port Edward (approx. 2.5hrs).

Refreshment Stop

Nothing beats a Black Label from a local Shebeen.

Wild Camping Sites – usually located close to stream or in a sheltered area. Your guide knows the best spots.

Village Homestay – book a night or two along the way in a VBA. A simple dinner and breakfast will be included in the R350/per head price paid. Bedding and warm water for a bath or shower is also provided.

Pristine River FrontageThe Mlambomkulu river which plunges over the cliffs at Waterfall Bluff, make for a wonderful overnight stop.
  1. Can you hire backpacking equipment?

    Unfortunately not. You need to have all your own equipment: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, cooker and food.

  2. Can porters be employed?

    Yes, potentially, but its more of an exception for elders or someone with an injury. If the whole group is going to need porters – it would be better to look at one of our slackpacking trail options.

  3. How fit do you need to be to do this hike?

    You will need to have a very good level of fitness and endurance for this hike. You should also have had experience with multi-day hikes carrying a backpack of at least 15kgs.

  4. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    When carrying a heavy backpack, boots with ankle support are definitely recommended, though the terrain itself warrants a hiking type shoe or trail sneaker, with a solid sole and grip.

  5. 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 with it game fish, schools of dolphins and pelagic birds.

  6. Is it possible to get catering on this trail

    You will get catering if you overnight in any of the village homestays. They provide a simple dinner and breakfast as part of their overnight rate. There are a few small spaza stores along the way for replenishing basic supplies.

Option A: Wild Camping – own tent & food

Group SizePrice (PP) 
6-9 Persons
R2000/pp
10-12 Persons
R1800/pp
Whats included in this tour
  • Hiking Guide – for 5 Hike days
  • Private Taxi Transfer (with trailer) from Mbotyi back to Wild Coast Casino