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


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


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


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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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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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


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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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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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


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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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

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

  • August 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    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!

  • August 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    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!

  • August 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

    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!

  • August 13, 2017 at 11:17 am

    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

  • August 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    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.

  • August 12, 2017 at 11:39 am

    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 🙂

  • August 6, 2017 at 9:41 am

    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.

  • July 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    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.

  • July 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    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!

  • July 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Looks amazing. I would definately like to go there one day and experience it Very well written

    • July 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Desiree, thank you for your comment if you love the outdoors you will love the Transkei!


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