South Africa is known for unique wildlife, fantastic wines and natural landscapes. However, these stereotypes don’t even scratch the surface of what this rainbow nation has to offer. Just imagine waking up to new vistas: rolling green mountains flowing into violent blue seas, pink and turquoise rondavels dotting the hills and yellow kites from the surfers kissing the mountain ridges. It’s truly an idyllic place: whales spout in the distance and crickets chirp at night. The beaches of the Transkei are better known as the “Wild Coast”. This is the original home of Mandela, Xhosa bread and a wistful, inspiring magic that can be better felt than described.
More than anything, the energy here is palpable. People who chose to spend their lives on the Wild Coast are generous, warm and genuinely care about improving their country. Moreover, one must not miss this coastline because of the sort of visitor it attracts. You will find travelers of all ages who want to be a part of a place with spirit: not yet ruined by tourism and not part of the remnants of apartheid tourism, this coast is rural and real. Although it is not the easiest place to get to, those who visit all keep coming back. Returnees come back to this place because it makes them reflect on who they are and what drives their own wild spirit.
The Wild Coast is remote, inaccessible and off the beaten path. However, with a little extra effort, travelers can connect with the deep spirit of South Africa. Xhosa villages struggle, having been a traditionally black area during apartheid. With high HIV rates and unemployment, locals haven’t quite felt the relative wealth of neighboring provinces. This means that travelers also have the opportunity to make a real impact while visiting.
If you are interested in a luxury stay in the Transkei, there are two luxury resorts.
- Prana Lodge
- For more of a local experience be sure to check out Mdumbi and Bulungula. These budget-friendly stays are 100% community owned and operated. They can even offer volunteer experiences in the local community. For the adventurous, you can hike between the two stays with a guide and stay in local villages overnight along your route.
Visiting South Africa and not getting off the beaten path is a bit like visiting the US and only visiting Disney World or New York City. There is indeed much more to be experienced and, if you’re able to visit the Wild Coast region of the Transkei, you will come away with a deeper understanding of the rainbow nation and see what makes this beautiful region such an integral part of the South African spirit.