The sea laps against the cliffs and sandbanks in long, soft waves. The water rushes in and out smoothly, as it usually does, thanks to the moon’s grace.
We, an international group of observers, one from California, one from Canada, one from South Africa, and three from Germany, stroll in time with the waves along the grassy cliffs. Every now and again, I can’t help but halt and observe the lads as they go about their business. I take lengthy breaths and steal little moments from myself.
I was missing the sea.
I was reminded of Ireland since the scenery in front of me is so green and the water is so blue.
Then the blinding sun beats down on me, and the reddening of my skin tells me to slather on SPF, for this is Africa.
The Wild Coast lies in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The region is covered with green grass, similar to the Drakensberg Mountains I had just left, and the sky appears larger than I have ever seen from anyplace else in the globe this summer.
The birthplace of Nelson Mandela and home to the Xhosa people, you just need to spend a few minutes there to recognise that it is something remarkable.
Today we’re trekking at Coffee Bay, a popular tourist destination in South Africa, and it’s the first time I’ve met other travellers on this trip. So far, I’ve largely been surrounded by natives in Johannesburg, and it’s just Callum (my companion tourist) and I exploring the trails of the Free State.
I have to pause and reach back and forth every now and then in a vain attempt to take it all in. I am once again swept away by the beauty in front of me, as I have been for the previous several years.
I’m not sure what I expected from South Africa, but this type of lush foliage was not what I expected.
Zebras with lions? Maybe, but cows lazing on the sand? In a million years, no way.
Hundreds of plants discovered here have homoeopathic effects, which comes as no surprise to me. Wandering is therapeutic for me.
We travel the lengthy but pleasant distance to the Hole in the Wall, a true hole in a shale and sandstone rock.
If we hadn’t listened to Callum, who chose to build a type of “shortcut” from a treacherously small and steep cliffside route, it would have been quite straightforward and uninteresting.
If you run across Callum, don’t allow him dictate your hiking decisions for you.
According to local mythology, the hole in the wall was formed when a young girl and a sea man fell in love. The Sea Man opened the hole with the aid of a gigantic fish so he could reach it. Her echoes from the hole may still be heard when the waves smash along the sides, yet she was never seen again.
Its native name is esiKhaleni, which means “the location of sound.”
The hole itself is fairly intriguing, but getting there is the true adventure.
“It’s the trip, not the goal,” I’d like to add. I can? Thank you.
Expect pothole-ridden roads if you visit the Côte Sauvage. Sharks can be found in seas opposing the current. Believe that he is genuinely wild.
That is why it is so magnificent, strong, and attractive to someone like myself.
Do it yourself:
- If you’re driving, keep an eye out for potholes; a regular automobile should be fine as long as you drive cautiously.
- Umtata is the next significant town if arriving by bus. Fly to Durban and then take a bus with Baz Bus or an interstate coach (such as Greyhound) to Umtata. Coffee Shack and Bomvu Backpackers provide shuttle service from Umtata’s Shell Ultra City.
- I stayed at the Coffee Shack but preferred the vibe at Sugarloaf Backpackers, which was just down the street. Calling them is the best approach to make a reservation: +27 47 575 2175
- The Hole in the Wall may be reached by driving up the road and along the shore from Coffee Bay. You will not be able to miss it. Request a driver’s phone number from the Coffee Shack to return, or hitchhike along the way.