WILD COAST

The slack­pack­ing trail be­tween Port St Johns and Cof­fee Bay is a safe, in­ex­pen­sive and proudly South African ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s time you made a book­ing.

go! - - Contents - WORDS & PIC­TURES ERNS GRUNDLING

Fall in love with South Africa all over again on the five-day slack­pack­ing trail be­tween Port St Johns and Cof­fee Bay. You’ll re­ceive a warm wel­come and de­li­cious food.

Six dots march up a hill along a nar­row foot­path, which has been stamped out by man and an­i­mal over cen­turies. All along the Wild Coast, in the rolling green land­scape, you’ll find paths like this. They lead from one vil­lage of colour­ful huts to the next, through fields of spinach and mielies, and past spaza shops. It’s the fourth day of the five-day hike be­tween Port St Johns and Cof­fee Bay. On one side of us, waves break onto a beach – empty ex­cept for some lazy cows. Ahead of us (and be­hind) there are es­tu­ar­ies, la­goons, coastal forests and end­less hills. I first did this trail in 2010 and I should have come back to do it again long be­fore now. I’ll add it to my list of things to do ev­ery few years, along­side re-read­ing The Hitch­hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and watch­ing the high­lights of the 438 cricket match. The last few days have gone by in a pleas­ant daze. We’ve been stay­ing with lo­cal res­i­dents and eat­ing lo­cal food. The glimpse of ru­ral life I’ve been given has made me re­alise that we’re all ac­tu­ally the same. Our needs are sim­ple: We all want food on the ta­ble, a roof over our heads and a school for our chil­dren. That’s what a hike like this does: It gives you per­spec­tive and it fills your head with good thoughts and even bet­ter views. Come ex­pe­ri­ence the warmth of the Wild Coast!

SAND AND SEA. For much of the hike from Port St Johns to Cof­fee Bay, you walk through a pris­tine land­scape. Be­tween Hluleka and Tshani on Day 4, the trail winds over green hills and de­serted beaches.

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