Imagine huge waves rushing at a wild and rugged seashore, wild cliffs where waterfalls tumble into the sea, kilometres of isolated, shell-strewn beaches, tranquil river estuaries, mysterious coastal forests complete with rare mangrove swamps and the shy mangrove kingfisher and rural areas seemingly left unpolluted by man. Now add a humid climate, (caused by the warm Mozambique Current that flows along the coast), a few whales and dolphins frolicking in the waves and a gentle ocean breeze whispering: “life cannot get better than this” and know that you have just experienced the magic of the one and only Wild Coast!
The Wild Coast area stretches along the coast from Port Edward in the north to the Kei River Mouth in the south and inland to the Drakensberg and Stormberg Mountain Ranges. The wild and dangerous waves, currents and tides on the coast have overwhelmed many a seagoing vessel, thereby earning the coast its name of Wild Coast. However, its inhabitants call it the “pearl” in the crown of the Eastern Cape. Former inhabitants include the ancient San and Khoi-Khoi, who hunted hippopotami in the area and left proof of their occupancy in the many rock paintings, the Nguni tribes from the north and European seafarers, who worked hard to make the coastline navigable and the land more accommodating, all left their indelible mark on the area.
Notable landmarks of the region include the “Hole-in-the-Wall” near Coffee Bay; Umtata, an important centre of Xhosa culture and home of the new Nelson Mandela Museum; Mvezo, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and Qunu where he grew up, now the site of the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre and Community Museum.