South African mountain bikers constantly hear how great it is to race the tide on the pristine Wild Coast, but seldom get the opportunity to, let alone ride the entire length in one expedition. In keeping with Detour Trails’ adventurous spirit, we offer mountain bikers not only short trips on the Wild Coast, but also an annual 8 day expedition traversing the entire Wild Coast. All the factors of climate, tides, and phase of the moon combine in September to enable us to do the expedition in a compact week.
|START/FINISH||Port Edward to Kei|
|TOUR GRADE||5: DEMANDING
This ride is for keen mountain bikers, who have a good level of fitness and technical ability.
SUMMARY OF ITINERARY
|DAY||DESCRIPTION||DISTANCE||RIDE TIME||OVERALL TIME||MEALS INCL.|
|1||Port Edward to Msikaba||52km||4 – 5hrs||6hrs||LD|
|2||Msikaba to Manteku||45km||6 – 7hrs||8hrs||BLD|
|3||Manteku to Silaka||45km||5 – 6hrs||6 – 7hrs||BL|
|4||Silaka to Hluleka||40km||4 – 5hrs||5 – 6hrs||BLD|
|5||Hluleka to Mpame||50km||6 – 7hrs||8 – 9hrs||BLD|
|6||Mpame to Cwebe||32km||4 – 5hrs||6 – 7hrs||BLD|
|7||Cwebe to Qora Mouth||40km||5 -6hrs||6 -7hrs||BLD|
|8||Qora Mouth to Qolora||45km||5 -6hrs||6 – 7hrs||BLD|
|9||Transfer back to East London||B|
Day 1: Port Edward to Msikaba
52km, ride time 4 – 5hrs
The expedition officially begins at the Wild Coast Sun at 8h00 as early as possible to catch the low tide.
This day is characterised by grassland trails, our first experience of the Pondoland river gorges, river crossings and traversing Mkambati Nature Reserve before reaching the spectacular tented camp set in the dune forest overlooking the estuary and sea.
Day 2: Msikaba to Manteku
45km, ride time 6 – 7hrs
After following the trail in the grassland avoiding rocky outcrops, we reach Port Grosvenor and the ruins of a tunnel which was supposed to be made to the wreck of the Grosvenor to recover the treasure!
Leaving Luphutana, we take a detour to Waterfall Bluff to experience this spectacular 60m high fresh water drop directly into the sea. For riders who have not seen this wonder before, this is one of the lasting highlights of the trip.
From Waterfall Bluff the Pondoland coast starts showing the riders its true character of huge cliffs, craggy outcrops, demanding trails and big climbs as the trail leads past Mbotyi and on to a particularly demanding section before we crest a hill to be greeted by the vista of the Manteku estuary. Just across the estuary (waded or crossed by canoe) is a tented camp, the overnight destination for what is arguably the toughest day of the expedition.
Day 3: Manteku to Silaka
45km, ride time 5 – 6hrs
The trail from Manteku to Poenskop always has some surprises! It starts with a short climb out of the estuary up to the remains of the local trading store, from where we pick our way along an infrequently used path above some cliffs and then climb down a cliff with our bikes. Then it’s timing the tide to swim the Mntafufu River and on to Poenskop before reaching a dirt road which we follow to cross the Mzimvubu River bridge, ride through the hamlet of Port St Johns and on to Silaka Nature Reserve.
Day 4: Silaka to Hluleka
40km, ride time 4 – 5hrs
After a demanding start inland through the Silaka Nature Reserve, which includes a bit of bike pushing, the trail heads down to the coast at Umgazi. It’s a beach ride from here to Umgazana for yet another river crossing before the trail leaves the coast to avoid the impassable coastline around Brazen Head. This section is the longest bit of road on the expedition as we head inland before turning back towards the coast and Mpande.
We come across the special cove of Mtonga (my favourite beach!) before another inland detour around and over Rame Head, back onto the beach at Mnenu and finally to Hluleka Nature Reserve. Here we overnight in comfortable A-frame chalets with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean.
Day 5: Hluleka to Mpame
50km, ride time 6 – 7hrs
This is a monster day of the expedition comparable with day 2! Not only is it the greatest distance, there are a number of rivers to cross which each have their own challenge.
Shortly after the start, we tackle the Mtakagagie River before some great riding past Mdumbe (crossing the river) and Anchorage to Umtata Mouth for a ferry crossing. It is then through Coffee Bay village and an up-and-down dirt road ride to the iconic Hole-In-The-Wall. After crossing the Mpako River at Hole-In-The-Wall, the trail climbs and runs way above the cliffs offering unsurpassed views as it undulates up and down before it eventually drops down past Mbolompo Point for the final river crossing of the day, Mcwasa River. It’s then a short beach ride and a last climb over a hill before the trail drops into the Mpame Bay and our destination, Bull’s Inn.
Day 6: Mpame to Cwebe
32km, ride time 4 – 5hrs
This is a relatively short day despite the initial climb out of the bay and onto the dirt road to Mpame village. There are a few options we can consider riding depending on the feeling within the group. A ride thru the spectacular Kuamanzimnyama indigenous forest is not negotiable, but after that the two basic options are an inland ride thru a set of villages or a drop onto the beach after the forest and a long beach run across the Bulungula and Xora rivers to Ntlonyana before we can again choose from a few alternatives into and thru the Cwebe forest. The more we detour here, the more interesting the forest and the more exciting the ride into the mBashe Valley.
Our destination, The Haven Hotel is hidden away in these beautiful forests.
Day 7: Cwebe to Qora Mouth
40km, ride time 5 – 6hrs
After an early morning crossing of the mBashe River (by canoe), it’s a ride along the beach to Mendu and then onto the rough trails of Dwesa Nature Reserve through Rhino Valley, over a monster hill and down to the Dwesa gate. After exiting the reserve, the next section to Nqabara is largely on cattle tracks above rocky shores, providing spectacular riding and good, fast progress to reach the river at low tide. From here, the riding depends very much on what the weather has done to the beaches. We need to pick our way on and off the beach to make good progress and judge the tide to make crossing the Shixini and Jujura Rivers as easy as possible before reaching Kob Inn at Qora Mouth.
There is a lot to do here so riders with any energy left spend the afternoon exploring while others laze around with beer in hand.
Day 8: Qora Mouth to Qolora
45km, ride time 5 – 6hrs
The day starts with a ferry crossing of the Qora River and a long beach ride around Mazeppa Bay before a climb over a ridge into the small village.
As with the previous day, the route depends on the condition of the beaches as we take a relaxing ride down the coast, swim a few rivers (the most notable being Khobonqaba), take a break at Wavecrest Hotel for tea, check out the remains of the wreck of the Jacaranda, scramble over some rocks while celebrating what is sure to have been a great week of exploring this bit of paradise. Almost by surprise, we’ll reach Qolora and Trennery’s Hotel capping off the journey.
Day 9: Transfer to East London Airport
After a leisurely breakfast it’s time to reluctantly make our way to East London Airport.
Expect to pay around R 20 0000 (inc. VAT) per person sharing, there is a single supplement additional charge of 30% if you require a single room.
MINIMUM NUMBER OR RIDERS: 8
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 for R600 per day ( R4800 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.