Transkei – The Wild Coast of South Africa

The Transkei is located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.  It is a 250 km stretch of a rugged untamed coastline which is also known as the “Wild Coast”…and for a good reason.

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Long Stretches of Unspoilt Beaches

THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE

This part of South Africa is a very special place to me, I grew up playing along these shores picking up shells and learning how to fish.  Lucky for me my parents enjoyed the simple things in life and every chance we could get we came down here.

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Today my family have their own cottage where we come to escape.  No TV just stories around a campfire, city lights are replaced with stars and roosters are your 4am wake up call.  It really is an amazing place to connect with nature, she does demand respect though so I do recommend a guide if you are unfamiliar with this part of the world.

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Cows Grazing Along the Open Fields

SHIPWRECKS ALONG THE WILD COAST

The stretch of coastline is littered with shipwreck debris and is a graveyard to many ships who have succumbed to its pounding seas.  During stormy conditions, this rugged terrain turns deadly and has it has known to swallow passing ships whole.

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Old Boiler From a Ship Wreck

LANDSCAPES OF THE TRANSKEI

The stunning landscape consists of rolling hills dotted with thatched rondavels and Homesteads of the local Xhosa people who still farm these lands today.

 

 

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Local Woman Hanging Her Washing Out To Dry

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 Modern living has not quiet invaded this part of South Africa yet, there are no freeways, no tarred roads and no electricity.  Water is still fetched from the rivers and shared with livestock and crops.

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BEACHES OF THE TRANSKEI

The beaches are unspoiled, littered with driftwood, treasures from the ocean and sea shells.  Some of the beaches are covered with pebbles and often you see cows walking on the sand looking to graze.

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HIKING, WATERFALLS AND KAYAKING

The Wild Coast is known for its hiking trails which run along the water’s edge some even take days until you reach civilization.

There are waterfalls to explore, dolphin and whale watching in the winter months of April-July and canoeing up rivers and gorges.

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Canoeing up the calm Mtentu River

BIRD LIFE, FISHING AND TOURS

The bird life here is ample, making it every bird watcher and photographers dream! Anglers catch many different species of fish.

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Some of the Best Sunrises are seen along the Transkei Shores

There are old fishing tales of huge fish caught along these shores that have been past down for generations.

Tours are provided by the locals where you can get to experience real Transkei culture. Try home made African beer, watch traditional dancing or get to meet an amaxwele (herbalist, healer)

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HLULEKA NATURE RESERVE

There are two main reserves along this stretch of coastline.  The Hluleka Nature Reserve has a diverse range of eco systems, it includes an area of coastline as well as a lush forest, it is located 30 Kms south of Port St. Johns.  The reserve is a nature lover’s paradise where you will see Zebra’s grazing on the open fields and an abundance of wildlife in the forest.  Other animals that can be spotted are Bushbuck, Eland, Impala, blesbuck, wildebeest and Blue Duiker. There are many paths to meander from the beach into the forest. The accommodation offered on the reserve has a  natural and very comfortable feel to it.

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MKAMBAITI NATURE RESERVE

The Mkambati Nature Reserve lies just after Port Edward.  The reserves coastline stretches over  10km, made up of forested ravines and waterfalls, including one of the few waterfalls in the world that falls straight into the sea.

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Grasslands cover a large portion of this reserve and again it is full of many different species of wild life. There is so much to do here from hiking to fishing, caves and beaches to explore and plenty of wild life to photograph.  There are different types of accommodation offered for large and small groups with something to suit everybody.

Related Article: 50 Reasons to visit South Africa at least ONCE


THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE

There is so much to experience on this stretch of coastline if you wanting to get a break from city life and explore something wild, untouched and traditional. There are some Unique AirBNB’s available that will accommodate you for a real African experience.

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GETTING TO THE TRANSKEI

To reach this part of South Africa’s coastline you have Fly to Ushaka airport just outside the city of Durban and head south 200km where you will cross the Umtamvuna river bridge into the Eastern Cape (Transkei) Most of these places are remote you will need a 4×4 vehicle.

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Have you been to the Transkei?  Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

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Liza Williams

Born in South Africa, fascinated with culture and loves wood fire pizza. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away” Follow me on twitter: @soul_drifters

51 thoughts on “Transkei – The Wild Coast of South Africa

  • February 21, 2018 at 10:42 am
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    Great guide to South Africa – I love that you collected every interesting sights accompanied by those amazing pictures!

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  • January 24, 2018 at 4:04 am
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    Wow. Absolutely incredible. I’ve never heard of Transkei. It looks so pristine and peaceful. Thank you for sharing, it all looks magical!

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  • December 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm
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    This place looks amazing! And your photos really bring it to life. I’ve been wanting to visit South Africa for a long time, so adding this to my list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • December 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm
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    South Africa looks truly beautiful. It is definitely a country that is high on my bucket list. Transkei especially looks like an undiscovered paradise. This seems like a great place to disconnect and connect with nature instead!

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  • December 10, 2017 at 4:31 pm
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    South Africa looks like a dream seeing your pictures. Everything looks so pretty especially the pretty beaches of Transkei. I look the cute portrait of local African kid.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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    Transkei looks so perfect for me stunning nature and didtou mention canoeing im up for that, i love canoeing and kayaking,such alovely place to explore.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 2:19 am
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    We were in South Africa a few months ago and specifically near lake St. Lucia on safari. We did not hear about this area before hand but it looks amazing. The area looks very nice and inviting as we’re most areas and people while we were in South Africa.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 4:38 am
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    Such raw, rugged pictures of mother nature. The seas sound as if they could be terrifying, but wonderful to watch. Great captures of the cows!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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    I literally got goosebumps reading this, it’s just so beautiful here! I’m so sad I didn’t get a chance to visit this part when I was in South Africa, but I’d love to. Your photos are incredible and show the real beauty too!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 12:48 pm
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    Ive never been in South Africa but wow Transkei looks amazing! Such a perfect place for little getaway to clean up your mind and enjoy the nature! The landscape looks so fabulous, the sea side just make me wanna book my flight today! What a beautiful photos!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 10:25 am
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    I’m so jealous about your experience and I really hope to go to visit the Transkei as soon as possible. Your photos are simply stunning! 🙂

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  • December 4, 2017 at 11:06 pm
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    Wow South Africa is so beautiful and amazing. thanks for the tips. I will need to head there soon.

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  • November 13, 2017 at 11:28 am
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    I’m going there in January, doing the hike between Coffee Bay and Bulungula, can’t wait!!!!

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  • September 18, 2017 at 7:26 pm
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    Liza, how cool to meet up with another South African on this group. I totally love this article. Yes, I’ve been through the Transkei on a number of occasions and have snapped the odd photograph. But sad to say, I have never explored or gone into the areas you have been in. I was always in transit between East London or Port Elizabeth and Durban / Pietermaritzburg. You’ve made me thirsty for another road trip, but a more adventurous one this time! The results of last week’s survey

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  • September 14, 2017 at 7:06 am
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    I am a third generation Transkeian and love the Wild Coast with all my heart knowing the Mkabati, Grosvenor. Lupatana and Mbotyi area very well . Your photograph’s are beautiful and will inspire many to don their hiking boots and explore the Wild Coast.

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  • September 6, 2017 at 6:22 am
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    South Africa…no one talks about South Africa and I’m just so glad you did. Transkei looks like an off beat paradise that I’d love to visit someday. You pictures are so amazing. The sunrise and that pebble beach look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful place. It’s going on my bucket list for South Africa. 🙂

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  • September 5, 2017 at 3:46 am
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    For some reason, I can never associate cows with beaches 🙂 It was strange seeing that picture here. I agree with you that simple pleasures can make for some of the best memories. Just living in the moment and walking barefoot on grass, for instance. Nothing to beat the feeling.

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  • September 5, 2017 at 2:20 am
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    The landscapes of the Transkei look stunning, and what an incredible opportunity to visit a community which operates without modern living. What an incredibly authentic experience to interact with those who live in this region. The beaches look beautiful, and OMG so cool that Cows are often seen on the Beach!! With so much hiking, kayaking and waterfalls, I would love to visit the Wild Coast, and the shipwrecks, as tragic as the idea of a wreck is, are always fascinating to see.

    Thanks for highlighting a part of South Africa I hadn’t heard of!

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  • September 4, 2017 at 8:40 am
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    Haha, do the cows not know what grass looks like?? Only kidding … it just looks bizarre to see them on the beach 😀 And maybe if I was a cow in the Transkei, I’d be cruising the beaches too – they are seriously awesome!! The local Xhosa culture sounds fascinating too – and with the large array of other natural attractions, this looks like a fantastic holiday spot!

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  • September 3, 2017 at 7:19 am
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    The landscape looks far more temperate and green than we imagine South Africa to be. We have to get to visit and explore in the near future.

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  • September 3, 2017 at 4:18 am
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    Amazing photos! Looks like Transkei has everything in there, from beaches to amazing landscapes. I like Pebble beaches in particular. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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  • September 3, 2017 at 3:50 am
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    Your pictures are simply breathtaking! What precious landscapes! Loved each and every frame but the that of the boy is just wow! 🙂
    Transkei looks so pristine. definitely a nature lover’s dream! 🙂 The beaches with pebbles and driftwood look so dramatic.. hope to visit it someday!

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  • September 2, 2017 at 6:38 pm
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    Wow, I never heard of this place, but it Looks absolutely breathtaking! I’d love to stroll along the beaches and discovering shipwrecks or to canoeing up the Mtentu River. Your Pictures are stunningly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this article

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  • September 2, 2017 at 5:28 pm
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    The Wild Coast is a South African gem. You are so fortunate to spend lots of time here, away from everything. We have a family cottage at Bazley on the South Coast of KZN that has also been untouched by commercialization. Best ocean for swimming!

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  • September 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm
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    One of our friends had his honeymoon in South Africa, but in stead than luxury resorts… well. Was it for me I’d choose a cottage where, as you suggested, one can relax, cutting off the rest of the world. You’re lucky to have such a place for yourself and your family!

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  • September 2, 2017 at 9:12 am
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    Wow, Transkei looks so beautiful in an untouched sort of way. The nature reserves look wonderful. It was interesting to read about local tradition, such as letting the rondavel break down naturally after the owners death -Great read.

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  • August 18, 2017 at 3:44 am
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    Lovely photos. We never have been to South Africa, would have to arrange something very soon and go see this place! Canoeing on the Mtentu River is something that is tempting us!

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  • August 18, 2017 at 3:16 am
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    Damn, that is some dramatic landscape if I’ve ever seen it. I explored the more touristy parts of South Africa, but I didn’t get to understand the “story” of this part of the country until now. Thanks for sharing!

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    • August 18, 2017 at 6:51 am
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      Hi Christopher please come back to Africa and visit the Transkei the best part is, it is so safe the locals are humble you will love the experience.

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  • August 17, 2017 at 6:46 am
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    Africa has been on my list forever. And these pictures from Transkei has given more force to my African wanderlust. Love the landscape and portraits you clicked.

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  • August 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm
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    Wow, it must have been so much fun to grow up in Transkei. The pictures got me for sure. This is such a pretty place. Nothing less than a hidden gem of South Africa. I had no clue about it.
    No TV just stories around a campfire, city lights are replaced with stars and roosters are your 4am wake up call… sounds perfect!!!

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  • August 16, 2017 at 1:26 pm
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    Looking for inspiration and new places to visit in South Africa. I think I’ve just found it. Thank you!

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  • August 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm
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    We can’t wait to make our way to South Africa. It is a country that always have been on top of our list. We wanted to go for the Comm. Games but unfortunately it won’t happen there anymore 🙁 – Hope we can plan something like the things you mentioned soon!

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  • August 16, 2017 at 8:43 am
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    Wow, this is amazing. These places seem to be untouched by modernity. I did not know such places still exist in South Africa. Rare to see free spirited cows on a beach. he he

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  • August 16, 2017 at 7:35 am
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    The landscapes of Transkei are so peaceful and beautiful! I would love to visit this place one day. The local kid looked so cute as well.

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  • August 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm
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    Transkei is indeed a revelation. Was not at all familiar with this part of South Africa. You have really uncovered a beautiful gem for us. I love the fact that the place is so unspoilt and pristine. Nature seems to be at its best here and I love the idea of escaping to this place and just listen to the silence and sounds of nature.

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  • August 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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    I love doing things outdoors when I travel, and it definitely doesn’t look like there’s a shortage of outdoors activities to do here! I haven’t been to South Africa yet but definitely adding this to the list for when I do. Thanks for sharing about this gem!

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  • August 13, 2017 at 8:46 pm
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    I haven’t been dolphin or whale watching in a long time and would love to do it again. What breath taking scenery and your pictures really capture it.

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  • August 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm
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    So many incredible landscapes – we fell in love with South Africa earlier in the year when we rented a car for 5 days and went around Cape Town and the surrounds. I’m itching to get back to spend more time and explore the country further – thanks for the tip and insight into the Transkei – it sounds like this is a trip not to be missed!

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  • August 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm
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    I have been dreaming of going to South Africa one day and your photos are making me dream even more! The beaches sound very interesting and the coasts look beautiful. Thank you for sharing about this wonderful place!

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  • August 13, 2017 at 11:56 am
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    The Transkei looks so wild, remote and untouched- it amazes me that even as tourists flock to the same ten cities in places like Europe, there are untouched parts of the world like this- such a paradise and what lovely photos!

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  • August 13, 2017 at 11:17 am
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    I can see why it gets called the wild coast. Its truly beautiful, it is weird that there are places without power or anything still. I have never experienced something like that

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  • August 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm
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    What a spectacular landscape! The photos of the rolling green hills and the rocky coastline are amazing. I’d love to do some of the coastline hikes and go dolphin and whale watching. Transkei certainly looks remote, but that is part of its appeal. You could truly disconnect and refresh your mind.

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  • August 12, 2017 at 11:39 am
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    Transkei certainly looks fascinating, and you are so lucky to come from these parts of the country. So curious to see so many cows, especially on the beaches…I thought that happened only in Goa 🙂

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  • August 6, 2017 at 9:41 am
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    Great photos. Thanks for sharing this beautiful place. Indeed, Africa has a lot of beautiful and breathtaking wonders. It is blessed with great beaches, magnificent landscapes, etc. I hope one day I can visit this amazing place.

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  • July 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm
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    Wow, Transkei is so beautiful… the nature reserve and the view from the top looks so amazing. Your photography is so lively… it has inspired me to find out more about this place.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 10:25 am
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    I am just so impressed with your writing style, uncomplicated & so natural! You are truly blessed to have been brought up in the best part of SA! Your photos are out of this world, to the tiniest detail. Keep it up & spread your unique magic to the world. You are very gifted!

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  • July 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm
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    Looks amazing. I would definately like to go there one day and experience it Very well written

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    • July 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm
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      Hi Desiree, thank you for your comment if you love the outdoors you will love the Transkei!

      Reply

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