Impressive places to visit are abundant along the Wild Coast, but most of them do seem to make you work quite hard to get there.
We had recieved a few friendly warnings about the road leading to the Haven Hotel, but were reassured that it was really only troublesome if particularly wet. So after three days of rain (and a final nervous morning phone call from the hotel staff), we approached this leg not exactly brimming with confidence. Leaving our comfort zone several kilometers further up the track, we slipped and slided towards our destination with clenched jaws and expletives aplenty. Pleased to have made it down in one piece, we settled the nerves with a few rapid refreshments at the welcoming bar.
The Haven is a well-established Wild Coast destination and has been the choice for many generations of South African families. With the isolation, beautiful beaches and absence of phone reception, it’s very difficult to suggest an appropriate alternative. Our outbound journey was dry and subsequently a cakewalk in comparison.
The couple of nights spent in Port St Johns can be best described as dreadful, and served only to give us a compelling reason to venture into Pondoland. And yes, we had never heard of Pondoland either.
Pondoland stretches over 120 kilometers of the eastern coast of South Africa and is jam-packed with some quite astonishing landscapes. Our first stop was the idylic Msikaba Camp, and the approach from the main road made it clear that our experience getting to the Haven was very much par for the course around these parts. We lost ourselves for only a few nights here, but could happily lose a few months. If rugged coastlines, waterfalls and sunsets float your boat, then happy sailing.
Our final nights in the Eastern Cape were spent at the unique creation of Mark and Lynette’s Protea Ridge. Mark has enjoyed a career as a props guy in the movie industry and as a result, it’s safe to say that there is nowhere in the world quite like Protea Ridge. If you’re looking for that perfect blend of eccentricity and outrageous hospitality, then this is the place for you. What a pleasant and unplanned surprise.
We crossed over the Mtamvuna river to leave the Eastern Cape behind, and while the smooth tarmac of KZN provided a welcome respite, we were certainly sorry to say goodbye to what has provided the most interesting days of our trip so far. We barely scratched the surface of this region, but the scratches we did manage have already prompted our plans for a return. What a superb corner of this country.