With the wind at full force and the rain relentless, the roads that lead to the start of the Hole in the Wall hiking trail in Coffee Bay were in too poor condition for the Coffee Shack tour vehicles to navigate. Slightly dejected at not getting the opportunity to see one of Coffee Bay’s famed marvels, but still very keen, we headed out wrapped thick in layers with local guide and barman, Lazarus, to the Umtata river mouth which is just north of Coffee Bay.
The plan was to do the Coastal Hike which runs from the river mouth back to the hostel, which usually takes around two hours. With our wits about us our group of five left the vehicle and Lazarus, armed appropriately with gum boots and an umbrella, led us to a breath taking site which overlooks the Umtata river mouth.
After a few interesting tales about the history of the area we set off to tackle the day – but not before a few local goats interrupted us and led Lazarus onto another interesting story explaining the value of goats and how they are used in certain traditions – but then we were off.
Soon after we started we passed through a village and the rain, although unpleasant for us, was extremely welcome and the locals, unseen yet evidenced through smoke, were huddled around the fires in their round, mud-brick and thatch-roofed homes celebrating as the area had recently been in the grips of a severe drought causing the, usually emerald hills, to bear the golden markings of a rainless season.
We made our way back to the coastline and walked along cliff edges, which looked as though they had been carved into the hills by knife. The cliff faces were sheer and captivating and more than once I felt a gentle tug at my backpack warning me not to go lean any further over. The miserable conditions were made light by the exceptional views, Lazarus’ infectious laughs and the many calves and piglets we saw along the way.
Goats, cows and pigs, by the way, are common place here and unlike in the cities, where they seem out of place, they have the run of the land and enjoy roaming and grazing on the highest hills and steepest cliffs. The Wild Coast is both lost in time and sheltered from the chaos of the maddening world; it is stunning.
The hills seemed to carry on forever, we rose and fell with the lay of the land and cut through the rivers until home came into view. Coffee Bay, from any angle is marvellous and coupled with the thought of hot showers and cappuccinos less than 15minutes away we finished strong.
Enquire at Coffee Shack if you’d like to do the Coastal Hike in Coffee Bay. They have many others on offer too.
Telephone: +27 (0)47 575-2048
Opening hours: By arrangement.
Coffee Bay Links:
- Coffee Bay Attractions
- Hotels in Coffee Bay
- Hotels in Eastern Cape
- Accommodation Eastern Cape
- Accommodation South Africa
Photographs by and © Vaughan McShane