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

 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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Xhosa Homestead Known As a Rondavel or Hut

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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Pebble beaches
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Cows are often seen on the Beach

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.

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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Xhoza homestead

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 W

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

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

  • 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!!!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply

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