South African mountain bikers constantly hear how great it is to race the tide on the pristine Wild Coast, but seldom get the opportunity. As one of our previous riders aptly put it, for this trip we need the sun, moon and stars to be in line! What she meant was that climate, tides and complex logistics dictate when we should take on the Wild Coast. The emphasis of this trip is on much more than pure riding, adventurers will go away with lasting impressions of amazing scenery, magnificent beaches and an insight into the culture of the hospitable people who live here.
|START/FINISH||Morgan Bay to Hole in the Wall|
|TOUR GRADE||3: EASY TO MODERATE
This ride is for regular mountain bikers, who have a small degree of off road experience and reasonably fit non-riders.
|BEST TIME OF THE YEAR||APRIL – SEPTEMBER|
All you need to bring is bike and riding equipment that’s in GOOD REPAIR (Helmet, gloves, Hydration pack and basic spares you’d usually have for a multi-day event), casual clothes, swimming costume, towel, toiletries, etc.
If you are particular, bring your own personal sports drink and any special snacks you like on the trail and make sure your medical insurance is up-to-date.
Basically the cost includes everything on the trail, except personal spending money. There’s nowhere really to spend money, except for a few cokes at spaza shops, drinks at hotels and maybe for a few bits of beadwork from the locals.
Remember personal insurance! You won’t be allowed on the expedition without this. Signing indemnity and providing medical details and assurance from your doctor that you are medically fit.
Once your booking is confirmed, you will receive a suggested kit list. With guidelines on preparing your bike for the rigors of the beach and what to ask your local bike shop to do on servicing the bike after the ride.
SUMMARY OF ITINERARY
|DAY||DESCRIPTION||DISTANCE||RIDE TIME||OVERALL TIME||MEALS INCL|
|1||Transfer to Morgan Bay||–||–||–||D|
|2||Morgan Bay to Wavecrest||23km||3 – 4hrs||5hrs||BLD|
|3||Wavecrest to Qora Mouth||25km||3 -4hrs||6hrs||BLD|
|4||Qora Mouth to Cwebe||42km||6hrs||8hrs||BLD|
|5||Cwebe to Mpame||32km||5 – 6hrs||7 – 8hrs||BLD|
|6||Mpame to Hole-in-the-Wall||21km||3 – 4hrs||6hrs||BL|
|7||Transfer back to East London||–||–||–||B|
Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Morgan Bay
Although most riders will be met at East London airport, the ride officially begins at Morgan Bay where the riders will be given a thorough briefing of what to expect on the ride and all procedures to be followed.
After assembling, checking and adjusting the bikes, it’s off for sun downers on Keightley’s Kranz followed by the customary braai at the Mitford Lodge.
Day 2: Morgan Bay to Wavecrest
Stats: 23 km, Ride time 3-4 hrs, Total time 5 hrs
Leaving Morgan Bay along the beach the riders get their first taste of beach, rock and trail riding past Cape Morgan Lighthouse into coastal forest and then through the sleepy village of Kei Mouth and on to the Great Kei River itself.
After crossing the river by pont, it’s up Sunrise Surprise hill and then a dash down back to the beach. For the next few hours the riders will pick their way along short beaches and over rocky outcrops to Qolora and on to the wreck of the Jacaranda. This is a good place for a quick rest and to hear about the Jacaranda’s misfortune.
It’s then onto a sandy trail above the beach and down to the Kobonqaba River for the first of many interesting river crossings. After wading/swimming the river, the riders follow the trail across the beach and inland over a long grassy hill to our overnight stop, Wavecrest Hotel.
After lunch there is time to boat up the Nxusi and Nxaxo Rivers into the most southerly mangrove swamps in SA for some excellent birding. The not so energetic will spend the afternoon on the beach or relaxing at the hotel with a book or gin and tonic in hand while savouring the view.
Day 3: Wavecrest to Qora
Stats: 25 km, Ride time 3-4 hrs, Total time 6 hrs
As it’s chilly early in the morning, it’s prudent to use the hotel water craft to cross the river onto the sandy beach. After a long beach ride, there’s a little respite and then back onto the beach past Bowker’s Bay and Cebe Cottages. The trail leaves the beach here and runs on the grassland above the coast to Cebe Nature Reserve heading back onto the beach for a short while around Stony Point and on to Mazeppa Bay.
The trail leads through Mazeppa and climbs high above the ocean for spectacular views of Mazeppa Point (Clan Lindsay Rock), magnificent sand dunes and points northwards towards Qora Mouth.
As with a lot of the trips along the Wild Coast, sea and beach conditions dictate where best to ride, we usually opt for the shorter recreational route following the coast past the big sand dunes and Salt Rock to the ferry crossing at Qora Mouth and on to finish at Kob Inn.
After lunch, there is much to do at Qora. Again the riders who wish to relax can spend their time in the hotel surrounds or lying on the beach while the energetic may take a stroll through pristine indigenous coastal bush up the Qora River in search of the illusive rare half-collared kingfisher or to find a specific sub-species of clivia plants which are endemic to this forest.
Day 4: Qora to Cwebe
Stats: 42 km, Ride time 6 hrs, Total time 8 hrs
This is the BIG DAY! The riders will need to get going early and keep moving through the day in order to make the best use of the low tide and hard sand.
Leaving Kob Inn, the trail is largely on double track and cattle tracks in the grasslands above the coast as it runs to the Jujura River. After the crossing, the trail heads inland before going back to the beach and to the Shixini River, past the remnants of the wreck of the Frontier and alternating on and off the beach to Beecham Wood and the Nqabara River.
A short beach section before it’s back onto cattle tracks through the Dwesa Reserve gate, to the foot of an imposing climb affectionately known as Mother 1!
After walking up this mother, the riders follow a very sketchy trail into Rhino Valley and on to Mendu beach. As the rhino were culled a few years ago, many a rider will question whether there is really a trail here or not!
At the end of Mendu beach, the trail crosses a sandy spur and continues on the last long beach leading to the mBashe River which is always crossed by canoe as we have seen huge Zambezi sharks here!
From the river, it’s a short ride to The Haven Hotel, our destination for this long hard day.
Day 5: Cwebe to Mpame
Stats: 32 km, Ride time 5-6 hrs, Total time 7-8 hrs
There are a few route options through the Cwebe Forests (one of the last pristine coastal forests left in SA) and on towards Ntlonyana to re-join the coast for a long beach run to a rocky outcrop, called The Wall. After climbing the rock wall and regrouping it’s back to following the beaches or using an alternate track on the grasslands if the beaches are too soft all the way to Xora River.
After the Xora, it’s beach riding past Bulungula village to the end of the beach and imposing cliffs. To avoid these, the trail heads up along cattle and goat tracks inland over two large hills (Mothers 2 &3), through a number of rural settlements and the Kuamanzimnyama indigenous forest before eventually reaching a district road which leads down to Mpame and Bull’s Inn.
Day 6: Mpame to Coffee Bay
Stats: 21 km, Ride time 3 ½-4 hrs, Total time 6 hrs
After a morning wake-up for the legs in the form of a little stinger of a hill to get out of Mpame Bay, the trail heads back to the beach, across the Mncwasa River to Mbolompo Point. Here, the trail heads inland and down an exciting descent past Lubanzi. It’s then up again on a rough, but almost ride-able track onto to a ridge running parallel to the sea, but there are still a few more exciting descents and brutal hills (which should be called Mother 5, 6 & 7!). Eventually the trail contours high above the cliffs as it makes its way to Hole in the Wall. There is an exciting descent from the contour path to the river crossing right at the hole (definite picture stop!) where we’ll regroup for a celebratory drink, lunch and a swim. This is effectively the end of the Wild Coast Amble as the crew load the bikes onto the support vehicles for a short drive to White Clay where everyone can chill and celebrate the adventure.
Day 7: Transfer to East London Airport
After a leisurely breakfast, it’s time to bid farewell to the Wild Coast and head for East London, the nearest city with a major airport. The transfer is a relatively long 4-5 hours or so giving an opportunity to see a little of inland Transkei, the home of the amaXhosa.
Check out our Facebook page from one of our previous Wild Coast Tours
R 15 000 (inc. VAT) per person sharing, there is a single supplement additional charge of 30% if you require a single room.
BICYCLE HIRE: Because of the effects of salt and sand on bicycles, it is not advisable to use expensive full suspension bikes on this ride. Detour Trails offers Fat Bikes for hire on this adventure at a cost of R600 a day (R3000 for this tour). They are ideal for beach riding and robust enough to handle the rigours they will be subjected to. Details can be discussed with the Detour Team when booking.