The northern Pondoland section of the Wild Coast stretches from Mtamvuna River in the north (Port Edward) to the mighty Umzimvubu in the south (Port St John’s) and is arguably the most rugged and breathtakingly pristine section of Wild Coast. Active Escapes offer 3 and 5 night Pondoland Trail Options - either fully-supported & catered (which is the Pondo-Hopper ) and also a self-catered version (the Pondo-Explore) which also has 3 or 5 night options along the same hiking route, sleeping in the same tented camps, all in unsurpassed locations. On the fully catered pondo-hopper, bedding is provided at all the camps and you will have your luggage transferred by vehicle. On the self-catered Explorer, you will need to bring your own food and sleeping bag for the camps, but porters can easily be arranged to ease your burden.The third night of both trails is spent at Mbotyi River Lodge (where dinner & breakfast is included) – a welcome bit of pampering along the trail. Highlights of this trail include the deepest estuary in South Africa (Msikaba), the ocean spray spectacular at Luphuthana, waterfalls which plunge directly into the ocean (including the 80 metre high waterfall at Waterfall Bluff), Cathedral Rock, friendly Pondo villages and sweeping vistas. During the annual sardine run (June-July), the ocean is a-frenzy with game fish, dolphins, sharks and myriad seabirds.
Day 1: Drive to Port St John’s (5 Night Trail) or Mbotyi River Lodge (3 Night Trail).
Leave vehicles in secure parking and get transfer through to Msikaba Camp (3hr transfer from PSJ, 1.5hr from Mbotyi).
Recommended Afternoon Activity: Take the canoes up the Msikaba Estuary (reportedly the deepest estuary in South Africa) for sundowners, excellent swimming beach, or cross the estuary into Mkambati Nature Reserve where the superbowl walk will afford a bird’s eye view onto an impressive colony of Cape Griffon Vultures.
Overnight: Msikaba Tented Camp
Day 2: Hike from Msikaba – Luphuthana. 16km.
Trail Highlights: the vestiges of treasure quests at Grosvenor, Goss’s Point & the stunning Mkweni estuary, the BBC China Wreck and the fantastic spray display at Luphuthana
Overnight: Luphuthana Tented Camp
Day 3: Hike Luphuthana – Mbotyi. 18.5 km.
Trail Highlights: Top Hat, Waterfall Bluff (an 80m high waterfall which plunges directly into the ocean), Cathedral Rock, Mfihlelo Waterfall, freshwater swimming pools on the Mlambomkulu river, the Views from the top of Drew’s Camp looking down towards Mbotyi where you will enjoy the comfort of Mbotyi River Lodge.
Overnight: Mbotyi River Lodge (Dinner & Breakfast included)
END OF 3 NIGHT TRAIL
Day 4: Hike Mbotyi – Manteku. 11km (terrain is more undulating south of Mbotyi but shorter distances)
Trail Highlights: Friendly rural villages, sweeping vistas from the hilltops, Manteku mangrove estuary with prolific birdlife, canoeing up Manteku Estuary.
Overnight: Manteku Camp
Day 5: Hike Manteku – Ntafufu. 10 km.
Trail Highlight: Black Sands, beach before Ntafufu, Ntafufu River Crossing
Overnight: Ntafufu Camp
Day 6: Hike Ntafufu – PSJ. 13 km. (4.5 – 5hr hike).
Trail Highlights: Dome Bluff, golden miles of beach through to Poenskop.
END OF 5 NIGHT TRAIL
The pp/ price is dependent on group size but based on a group size of 4-6 persons, it is currently R7900/pp for the 5 Night fully catered-supported hopper trail and R4000/pp for the 5N self-catered Explorer, which is 4 self-catered nights & 1 night with dinner & breakfast included at Mbotyi lodge.
The 3 night self-catered explorer is R3400/pp and R5300/pp for the fully catered version
Pondo-Hopper - Price Includes:
Transfer from Port St John’s (5N Trail) or Mbotyi (3N trail) to Msikaba trail head
3 or 5 Nights Accommodation:
3N Trail: 2 nights tented camps (Msikaba & Luphut) + 1 night DBB Mbotyi hotel
5N Trail: 4 Nights Tented Camps (Msikaba, Luphut, Manteku, Ntafufu) + 1 Night (DBB) at Mbotyi hotel
Bedding provided at Mbotyi & all the tented camps
Full Catering: DBB + Packed Lunch from all the tented camps & Mbotyi (on hopper trail)
Daily luggage transfers from camp to camp/lodge
Pathfinder/ Hiking Guide for all hike days
Reserve Permits & Trail Fees
Emergency Support Service
Canoes – available at Msikaba & Manteku Camps