Welcome back to my road trip blog posts! I’ve been very busy so I haven’t posted in a while. If you missed them you can read the previous two blogs on Cape St Francis and Bulungula to see the start of our road trip.
While we had the most wonderful time at Bulungula we did spend quite a lot of it worrying about our next leg of the journey. We were due to drive up to Umzumbe along the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. However, as our departure date drew nearer the unrest and riots in KZN got worse. We were in touch with the dive centre we were due to dive at and our accommodation and on their advice we decided it was too unsafe to risk driving up. We were very sad to take this destination off our roadtrip map. We were going to be staying in glass tresshouses at Mantis and Moon, Luke and I were going to go diving at Aliwal Shoal with sharks and whales with Mokarran Dive Centre and we were going to visit Beavercreek Coffee for a ‘crop to cup’ tour as a part of a collab. I was very sad to miss out on all these fun adventures I had so been looking forward to but at the end of the day our safety was the most important thing and it really wasn’t worth the risk.
We had thoroughly enjoyed our time along the Wild Coast so far and so decided to keep the good times coming and replace our Umzumbe nights with a different spot along the Wild Coast. I had heard great things about Mdumbi and none of us had ever been there before. We chatted to the manager at Bulungula and he recommended Wild Coast Secrets Accommodation just outside of Mdumbi. After some last minute arranging we secured our booking and headed off for our unplanned detour.
Mdumbi is the next river mouth up from Coffee Bay. Many people actually hike from one to the other. It is home to the Pondo people and has a raw untouched beauty about it. The Mdumbi River winds through milkwood forests and opens up to a large white sand beach that has been voted as the most beautiful beach in South Africa. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that, but it is a lovely spot. It’s a firm favourite for surfing and the river is great for fishing and kayaking. To get to Mdumbi you follow the Coffee Bay tar road right to the bottom. Just before Coffee Bay you turn left onto a gravel road. This will wind it’s way to Mdumbi. If you’re staying at Mdumbi itself you have a choice between Mdumbi Backpackers, Vukani Backpackers and Eco Swell Lodge. While all of those look lovely, I’m here to tell you about the Wild Coast’s Best Kept Secret: Wild Coast Secrets Accommodation.
Wild Coast Secrets Accommodation
Wild Coast Secrets Accommodation is located a short distance outside of Mdumbi itself. In my opinion the views from this spot are 100x better, if not the best views you’ll find along the Wild Coast. From your patio you literally have 270 degrees of seaview. The waves are littered with thousands of dolphins and whales catching the surf and you can literally sit for hours watching them! I cannot recommend visiting Wild Coast Secrets enough! We had booked to stay at the Rondavel for our stay but while we were there the owner, Paul, saw my camera and upgraded us to the Main House in exchange for some photos and this blog. It truly is a hidden gem and one everyone needs to know about!
Wild Coast Secrets has two accommodation options: the Main House or the Rondavel.
The Main House has a lovely wrap around veranda, a large open plan living area and sleeps up to 7 people. It has a fully equipped kitchen, an inside toilet and shower, a dining table and living area. There is one bedroom with a double bed and two single beds and the living area has three single beds which act as couches during the day. There are braai facilities, bring charcoal. Prices start at R1500 per night for four people, R1850 for 5 people, and R2200 for 6 or 7 people. You can book the Main House here.
The Rondavel is a contained accommodation option for a couple or small family. It is one open room with a kitchen, dining table, one double bed and three single beds. While it can sleep up to 5 people it is a bit of a tight squeeze for a group that large. There is a lovely little patio with an outside wooden table. The toilet is a separate building with two toilets and two showers. This facility is shared with the property owners. There are braai facilities, bring charcoal. The rondavel costs R700 per night for 2 people, R950 per night for 3 people, and R1200 per night for 4 or 5 people. You can book the Rondavel here.
Mdumbi is a beautiful untouched part of the Transkei and there is so much natural beauty to see. Here are some things you can do during your stay at Wild coast Secrets in Mdumbi.
Sit and watch the whales and dolphins from your patio
I know it sounds simple but we literally sat for hours and hours watching the dolphins surf through the waves and the whales breaching. We arrived toward the end of the sardine run season and the activity in the water was just incredible to witness!
Watch the sunrise over the ocean
The sunrises along the East Coast are just incredible and we were treated to so many amazing ones during our stay. Enjoy your morning coffee while watching the sky turn orange and red. The best time for dolphin watching is the first hour after sunrise!
Buy some fish, oysters or crayfish from the locals
The local Pondo people are excellent fishermen and women. They will visit your doorstep at sunrise with a selection of crayfish to choose from. We paid R30 per crayfish which was an absolute steal! These are the East Coast Rock Lobster and need to be caught with a permit. Each person with a permit is entitled to 8 per day. Their bodies (excluding the head) need to be at least 65mm in length. Make sure whoever you are buying from is following the permit rules. The good news with crayfish is that they are not killed in the fishing process, so those that are not bought can simply be thrown back into the ocean. The ladies who brought us our crayfish also offered to collect oysters for us so that is also an option.
Crayfish are best done on the braai. Slice then down their backs and clean out the guts. Then baste them with a garlic butter and lemon juice. Place then butterflied, shell side down on the braai and cook for about 10 mins until the flesh turns white, basting all the while with garlic butter and lemon juice. Enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine!
Hike to Mdumbi Beach
Mdumbi beach is a 45 minute beach hike away from Wild Coast Secrets accommodation. I highly recommend taking the walk there. You’ll walk down the steep hill from Wild Coast Secrets to the beach and then turn right. You will walk along a sandy beach for a while before the path takes you up onto the green hills. These are goat paths and so there are many different options but they will all take you in the general direction of Mdumbi Beach. After about 45 minutes of brisk walking you will reach Mdumbi Beach. This is a great surf spot for all the surfers out there. A wide river divides the beach which serves as a lovely swimming spot. Spend some time enjoying the beach before walking back the way you came. A note: cows on the beach are a very classic Transkei thing and you’re bound to see a few on your hike!
Mdumbi is a real slice of authentic Transkei paradise. It has not yet been commercialised the way Coffee Bay has been and truly is a magical spot. I couldn’t recommend Wild Coast Secrets accommodation more highly. It is the perfect place to kick back, relax, and slow down to the Traskei pace. We absolutely loved our unexpected detour here!
Roadtripping around South Africa? Check out my blog post on Cape Town to Coffee Bay (which includes guides to Nature’s Valley, Yellow Sands, Coffee Bay and Hogsback) for more South African roadtrip inspiration. If you’re looking for Garden Route guides check out my comprehensive guide to Knysna.