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Hiking Trail Port St Johns to Coffee Bay Coffee Bay to Mbashe River Guides & Shuttle Getting There Booking & Costs



Hiking Trail

The section of the coast from Port St Johns (PSJ) in the north to the Mbashe river in the south forms part of the original Transkei Hiking Trail and is approxinmately 100km long. It covers some of the best scenery and hiking country to be had along the Wild Coast as the coastline is extremely diverse and rugged and takes the traveller through some most impressive natural phenomena - over high coastal cliffs around PSJ, through well populated hills and valleys around Mngazna and Mpande, crossing rivers and round promontories and the sculpted beaches of Mdumbi and Coffee Bay, following rocky landmarks of Brazen Head and Hole in the Wall and finally trekking inland through forested hills and valleys stretching south to Bulungula and the Mbashe river mouth.

The nature of the terrain has precluded much in the way of development or infrastructure. Roads are few and poorly maintained and settlement has taken place only in a few accessible points. Unlike the "hotel hopping" trail further south, the trail is better suited to more experienced and self contained hikers who are content to make use of village type accommodation and a few backpackers or private cottages where they exist. You should be prepared to carry your own pack with clothing and gear for the time you are on the trail. We can arrange for basic meals at your overnight stays but you should carry sufficient energy snacks and liquids for the day. Distances can be as much as 20km per day and a lot of this involves hill climbing and bush walking so you need to be fit, as well as physically and mentally prepared. The hiking though is always interesting and varied and the scenery, encounters and sense of achievement you will get from the trail will remain long after the aches and pains have disappeared. We guarantee that this is a hike you will never forget!

Port St Johns to Coffee Bay Trail

This is normally undertaken as a 5 day trail but can be done in 4 days if you are a fit group and can hike for 8 hours at a time (20-24 km per day).
Much of the route is inland to avoid the incised river gorges so a guide is essential. A map and GPS co-ordinates are provided to help you with distance bearings and the local terrain.
Hikers usually carry their own packs but if required porters can be arranged so you walk with only a day pack.

  • Day 1 : Arrive in PSJ (86km from Mtata).  Overnight at a friendly backpacker or self catering lodge.
  • Day 2: Hike 3rd Beach PSJ– Mngazana Estuary. 5 hrs walk, approx 15km. Lovely walk through through dune forest in Silaka Nature Reserve climbing 2 hills and dropping down to Mngazi river. Beach walk to Mngazana estuary with ferry crossing.   Overnight: Village-based homestay (VBA) with dinner, bed & breakfast. Showers and cooking facilities available
  • Day 3:Hike Mngazana - Mpande. 4hrs walk, approx 12km. Inland walking on paths through hills and villages with forested valleys.   Overnight at VBA or Kraal Backpackers.
  • Day 4: Hike Mpande - Hluleka. 6hrs walk, approx 18km.   More hills and paths for first part descending to beach walk at Mnenu river. Cross into Hluleka reserve and follow road. Overnight (self-catering) in Hluleka Nature Reserve or VBA with dinner and breakfast
  • Day 5: Hike Hlukela - Anchorage. 8hrs walk, approx 21km.   Long day walk firstly to Mfekatye river (ferry) followed by grassy dune walking to Presslies Bay and inland paths to Mdumbi with rocky beach walk to Anchorage. Overnight at Mdumbi Backpackers or Anchorage hotel (all meals).
  • Day 6: Hike Mdumbi-Coffee Bay. 3hrs walk, approx 10km.   Pleasant beach and clifftop walk with descent through forest to Coffee Bay. Overnight options for hotel, self catering lodge or backpacker accommodation
  • Day 7 :After breakfast & walk up sugar-loaf hill, a shuttle will pick you up to return you to back to PSJ where your vehicles await.

This trail can be extended by another 3 days by continuing down to Mbashe river via hole in the Wall and Bulungula (see below). Alternately just relax for day or so at the end and explore the surroundings such as unforgettable Hole in Wall which can be reached in an easy half day walk. Local guides and a pick-up shuttle can be arranged.


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Coffee Bay to Mbashe River

A 3 day trail of one long day flanked by 2 easier days. Similar terrain to above with some big hills to negotiate if you follow the coastal path. Your guide can take you on a more inland route passing through villages and open grassland which will shorten the distance and avoid the heavy going around the coastal cliffs.

  • Day 1 : Drive into Coffee bay from Umthata. Approx 75 km tarred road from the turnoff on the N3 but watch out for the many potholes ! Choice of self catering, bed and breakfast or fully catered hotel accommodation for your first night

  • Day 2 : Coffee Bay to Hole in Wall Approx 3hrs, 10km. Pick up a guide or use the map to follow the coastal path along the cliff tops to Hole in the Wall.
  • You can choose to spend that night at the backpackers or return by road shuttle to your accommodation in Coffee Bay
  • Day 3 : HIW to Bulungula. Approx 8hrs, 18km. After a restful night you will need an early start for the long walk to Bulungula. Two river crossings, several hills and a final beach walk to Bulungula for your 3rd night.

  • Day 4 : Bulungula to Mbashe River. Approx 6hrs, 16km Continue on beach crossing the Xora river, more beach walking and a final inland hike through the Cwebe Reserve forest to Mbashe river.Overnight at Haven Hotel
  • Day 5: Collect shuttle or taxi to return you to Coffee Bay
Hole in The Wall
Bulungula hills

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Photo Record

You can see a day by day pictorial record and slide show of the 5 day PSJ to Coffee Bay trail at this link

For the 3 day Coffee Bay to Mbashe River trail follow this link

Guides, Porters and Shuttle Service

You will at all times be accompanied by a local guide who is a member of the community and well acquainted with the route. Registered guides are based at Port St Johns and Coffee Bay only so all hikes starting from these points will meet with their guides beforehand and the guides will accompany the group for the full distance and stay with the group overnight. Guides organize their own accommodation and meals.

Unless otherwise arranged in your trail package, you will be required to carry your own personal items on the trail. Hikers should try to walk with a light pack only (not exceeding 15 kgs in weight) and should not need to carry bedding, camping equipment or much food except for energy foods to eat on the trail. Porters can be arranged through the guides before the hike starts as they will walk with you all the way. In certain cases bags can be ferried round by vehicle where this is part of the package or a support vehicle is organized by the group itself.

A shuttle service will take you to the start point and collect hikers from the end of the trail and transport them back to the first night's lodge where their cars will have been safely parked. As all roads lead inland and not along the coast, it may be necessary to first transfer you back to the N2 at Umthata and then back along the regional road to Port St Johns or Coffee Bay so best to allow for a full day to get back to your cars.

Getting There :

Groups mainly organise their own transport to the start of the hike. Port St Johns and Coffee Bay are accessed by tar road from Umthata but beware of the many potholes and try not to arrive at night! Other than charter flights from East London, the only local airport with scheduled commercial flights is at Umthata and this is only served from Johannesburg so a shuttle or taxi service is required to get down to the coast. A further option may be to fly into East London and get a shuttle service from there to PSJ or Coffee Bay but this is expensive and only justifiable for larger groups

Maximum Number of Hikers :
Group sizes of 6-12 hikers are preferred

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Bookings and Packages

Paul Colvin of SA Adventure Trails will make arrangements for group bookings.
Use this online booking form for further enquiries and quotations.

Cost will depend on :

  • the number of hikers in the group (discount for more than 6)
  • your start and end points (no of trail days)
  • shuttle service provided
  • type of accommodation used
  • self catered or meals supplied
  • any special requests (luggage transfers, porters etc)
  • seasonal dates

Depending on group preferences, hikers may decide to increase or shorten the trail, or alternately to spend more than one night at any of the lodgings along the route (eg rest days at a hotel or backpackers).
Discuss your requirements with your agent at the time of booking.

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Disclaimer ( :   Information provided on this website  is supplied by the trail owner or agent and is not validated.
We do not hold ourselves responsible for any inaccuracies or mis-representation for information provided in good faith. 
Please check with trail owner at time of booking.