The Secret Life Of 5 Year Olds On Holiday 2018 30 Reasons Why South Africa’s Wild Coast Is the Best Place in the World to Be a Backpacker

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30 Reasons Why South Africa’s Wild Coast Is the Best Place in the World to Be a Backpacker

The Wild Coast is like no other destination in South Africa. Away from the chaos of the cities, it’s a place where backpackers mingle with Xhosa villagers, dedicated surfers and new-age hippies away from the rest of the world. You’ll know you’ve arrived on the Wild Coast when the highway gives way to a rough dirt road and you start seeing more animals running around on the road than cars. The landscape is dominated by psychedelic green hills covered in typical mud rondavels, which then part to reveal a vast and endless coastline framed under a stunning sky.

Along this coast you will find some of the best backpacking in South Africa. The vibes are contagious, the setting is spectacular, and there are plenty of activities to keep even the most avid hiker busy. Here are 30 reasons why you’ll want to add the Wild Coast to your next South Africa itinerary and why it might just be the best backpacking destination in the world!

1. Discovering your own secret beach

The Wild Coast offers about 300 km of uninterrupted coastline. There are endless coves, inlets and secret spots ripe for discovery, shielded from view by towering cliffs. And except for the grazing cattle, you’ll have them almost all to yourself.

2. Eating the freshest seafood you’ve probably ever tasted

Wander along the coast and you’re bound to come across village children gathering oysters and clams or local fishermen returning with their morning catch. Treat yourself to the freshest seafood picnic you’ll ever have right on the beach.

3. Watching the perfect sunset over the ocean (from the cliff, with free sunset)

All along the Wild Coast you will have a choice of cliffs offering perfect 360 sunset panoramas What could be better? How about complimentary sunsets from the Coffee Shack while sitting on a hill overlooking the ocean, or an optional ride to the old Port St. Airstrip. John from the Amapondo team with a unique view of the entire coast.

4. Learn to surf with the cheapest lessons on the coast

With wide sandy beaches and surfing for all levels, the Wild Coast is the perfect place to pick up a board. Hostels offer incredible deals on beginner lessons, with 2 hour group lessons for just 50 rand. Multi-day programs are also on offer for those who want a more intense experience, or simply rent a board and go it alone.

5. Canoeing down the untouched rivers of the Wild Coast

The Wild Coast is blessed with a number of rivers ending in beautiful coastal lagoons. Rent a canoe and head out on any of these waterways that pass through deep gorges and see colorful villages where local children will welcome you with a smile.

6. Free, yes FREE seafood!

Free Sundowner sounded pretty awesome? How about free seafood? The Coffee Shack loves its freebies. From welcome drinks to free night accommodation, they have a long list of incredible incentives that will make backpackers stay longer than planned. My favorite? Hot bowls of fresh mussels were served at the bar each night before dinner for free. Yum!

7. Cliff jumping

Adrenaline junkies will love the chance to launch themselves from Mpuzi Cliffs into the breaking waves into the azure blue waves below. Located between Coffee Bay and Mdumbi, the cliffs offer spectacular views. It’s a nice day trip, so even if you’re not inclined to bounce back, it’s the perfect place to have a picnic and relax by the sea.

8. Skinny dipping at Chintsa Beach

Chintsa has one of the most amazing beaches I have ever visited. The soft fine sand stretches around the bay so big that when the sea breeze starts coming you can’t even see the other side. It is an ideal place for long walks, a romantic picnic or a bit cheeky and indulge in nudity.

9. Experience the local taxi

We’ve all seen the crazy minibus taxi blaring music and swerving dangerously around Jo’burg and Cape Town. On the Wild Coast, local taxis are a completely different experience and a great way to get a sense of real community life. Flag the converted bakkie as it wanders down the dirt road and join the school kids, hens and chattering ladies jostling for space on the way to market. It will be a bumpy ride, but it will likely provide the most lasting impression of your entire trip.

10. Join an impromptu game of beach soccer

Everywhere on the Wild Coast you will be greeted by smiling school children fishing, swimming or walking to and from school. In the evening, impromptu football games take place. The village children will be more than willing to take you on and show off their very impressive skills.

11. Horseback riding along miles of pristine beach

Just when you thought you couldn’t find a more romantic spot, Bulangula Lodge offers sunset horse rides along their beautiful stretch of pristine beach. What a great way to end a perfect day!

12. Reducing your footprint

The Wild Coast is just that: wild, rugged, undiscovered, untouched. Preserving this paradise is the ethos of most hostel owners and can be seen in every aspect of their operation. These places were built using sustainable methods and run partially or completely off the grid. These places use solar power, rocket shows and locally grown produce to give you every comfort while preserving the paradise that surrounds them. Visit Wild Lubanzi to learn about their creative and funky eco renovations and sleep under the stars.

13. Learn to play the drums

Evenings are an opportunity to listen to incredible local music as talented young villagers gather around the campfire and fill the night air with local rhythms. Grab a drum and see if you can keep up. Or sign up to one of the drum making workshops in the village and learn to play your own drum.

14. Listen to the sounds of the ocean from your tent

Camping is a great budget option for backpackers and the Wild Coast has some of the best spots I’ve come across on my travels. The wide open spaces mean you won’t have to worry about that rowdy drunk backpacker scurrying around looking for shelter, so the only noise you’ll have to worry about is the lapping of the waves.

15. Attending a full moon party at the legendary Coffee Shack

An evening on the Wild Coast is normally spent stargazing or around the fire listening to the rhythms of the local drummers. But once a month, things pick up speed as travelers come from near and far to experience the legendary Full Moon Party at the Coffee Shack. Don’t expect to sleep much!

16. Get lost hiking

The Wild Coast offers an incredible network of coastal trails stretching from Port Saint John’s to Bulangulu. From day hikes to week-long adventures, there’s something for everyone and it’s guaranteed to take your breath away. The trails pass through local villages, green pastures and undulating coastline. Be prepared to cross rivers, discover pristine beaches, and ask friendly villagers for directions when you get a little lost.

17. Eat Umbako (traditional Xhosa bread)

There really is nothing better than the hot Xhosa bread that Wild Coast offers. Baked in poitjie over the fire, this floury bread is dense and delicious. With a dollop of butter, it’s just divine.

18. Spend the evening by the campfire

I can’t think of a better way to end the day than facing a roaring fire under the stars. Weather permitting, you’re sure to find a crackling fire pit with every backpacker. What better place to relax, sip a beer and swap stories about the day’s events.

19. Digging into joint dinners

A big part of being a backpacker is connecting with like-minded travelers as you get the best tips on where to go next. The communal dinners offered at most Wild Coast hostels create the perfect setting. The food is locally grown and simply delicious. Think big portions, fresh produce and traditional Xhosa recipes. Be sure to join one at Bulangula or Wild Lubanzi.

20. Knowing that you are giving back

Most Wild Coast backpackers are partly or wholly community owned and all work closely with their local villages to protect cultural integrity and improve education and services. This means you can spend your dollars guilt-free, knowing it’s going to the people who need it most in a region with the lowest education and employment rates in South Africa.

21. Experience the rocket showers of Bulangula

Being off the grid doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort, and no place proves that better than Bulangula! Their hot outdoor showers flow from a locally designed propane rocket chimney. Does that sound amazing? It is!

22. Visiting the Hole in the Wall

The Hole is the Wall is one of those places where nature really shows off. Here, where the Mpako River meets the coast, the amazing power of the Indian Ocean is revealed in remarkable rock-cut tunnels and caves. Hole in the Wall can be visited on a nice day trip from Coffee Bay or Wild Lubanzi, but it also hosts backpackers, a resort and an amazing strip of beach if you choose to stay. The river offers great swimming for those looking to take a break from the surf, and its shady banks are the perfect place to park for a lazy afternoon braai.

23. Treat yourself to a massage

Just in case you weren’t relaxed enough. Treat those muscles after a day of hiking, cliff jumping, or battling the waves. In Bulangula, you can book massages from a trained masseuse through one of their village initiatives. With the backpackers in Mdumbi, you can book not only a massage, but also a spa session in their jacuzzi. With money going straight back into the community, who can argue with a little pampering?

24. Spend the day in a hammock

The Wild Coast offers an abundance of outdoor activities, but some days are meant to be spent doing nothing at all. With great views and cool vibes, it’s a place to lie back, relax and contemplate life.

25. Experience Chintsa’s backpacker village

The famous Buccaneers are really more of a mini-resort than a typical backpacker. Nestled on a hill overlooking the lagoon, it’s a massive sprawl that includes lodges, cabins, dormitories, campsites, pools, volleyball and seemingly endless bars and lounges. There’s always something to do, including communal dinners, comedy nights and much more. The atmosphere is great and the setting perfect. With so many tasks, you will definitely end up staying more days than you planned.

26. The Wild Coast realization suits all budgets and comfort levels

One thing I love about backpackers in South Africa is that they have expanded beyond the dorms and offer a range of accommodation to suit all needs. The Wild Coast is no exception. If you’re in a dorm, you can opt for a simple double, rent an awesome safari tent, or go on a family rondavel with a bunch of friends. Most backpackers will also let you set up a tent for super reasonable fees. It’s a great choice for those who want to save while optimizing their privacy!

27. Realizing that there is no age limit for tourism

I was 10 years younger when I first visited the Wild Coast and was pleased to find that I fell back into the groove just as easily this time around. It’s one of those incredible places where age really doesn’t matter. Students on break mingle with vacationing families and aging hippies who came a long time ago and never left. The Wild Coast truly embodies the spirit of what travel is all about, bringing people together from across Africa and the world.

28. Catching a storm over the ocean

The sheer majesty of the sky above the Wild Coast is awe-inspiring at the best of times, but if you’re really lucky, nature can treat you to a special performance. Summer thunderstorms are quite common here, especially in the evening, and there’s nothing quite like watching one roll in from the ocean and lighting up your skis.

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