A Journey of Discovery on South Africa’s East Coast, the Wild Coast
Travel the wild coast of South Africa for a journey of animals, unique safaris, and a different view.
The best areas are just west of Durban on the Wild Coast
Most Meaningful Experience: Learning how to Nitrox dive, fast currents, and seeing hammerhead sharks!
- Explore the surf and dive spots along Durban’s coastline
- Drive out to St. Lucia and dive at Sodwana Bay
- Drive through the stunning landscapes that link Swaziland and Nelspruit
- Wildlife spotting in Kruger National Park and rent the tent lodges at either entrance. You don’t need an expensive package!
After leaving Lesotho, I headed towards Durban. One of my goals was to go big-game diving with sharks and I wanted to check out some of the local surf spots. The coast was dotted with vacation homes that were interspersed with large enclaves of shacks as the dwellings of the “haves” and “have nots” alternated across the hills.
I decided to stay in the small town of Port Shepstone and found a cozy beach hostel Uzumbe Surf House House – a quaint lodge run by a South African and his American wife where I spent a day surfing and exploring the beach. It was a small white hostel with about 8 beds, a large yard for campers and direct access to a surf beach. They had a few people hanging out including a surf instructor and a couple staying out back in their overlanding 4×4. I thought this would be a welcoming stop while I found diving spots.
I was excited to hit up African Dive Adventures for some scuba diving, with two dives planned to see the coast’s legendary hammerheads. I then continued to St. Lucia, passing nature reserves and safari parks where you can easily stop for a night or two of game driving. The diving in St. Lucia saw me come face-to-face with more tropical species, thanks to its location where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
Back in my truck, I took off down the wild coast. South Africa has two popular drives. The first is the well-traversed Garden route running from Capetown to Port Elizabeth. The other is the Wild Coast which starts from East London up to Port Edward. These are starkly different. The Garden Route is a favorite tourist destination that even has a hop on and off tourist bus described as “covers the diverse vegetation and wildlife, and abundance of lagoons, lakes, mountains”
The wild coast is described by http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/eastern-cape/wild-coast/
“The road is a series of remote, wild, ragged cliff-lined beaches (the real thing), valleys, coastal forests, seaside villages and great expanses of undeveloped wilderness. is about hours spent on beaches, ambles along white sand, meeting cows at river mouths, Xhosa huts, coffee out of tin mugs, pot-holed dirt roads, cliff hikes, river canoeing, horseback rides and surfing. Most of all, it’s about getting away from everything.”
I was on the wild coast and headed towards Durban. This coastline had vacation homes that were interspersed with large enclaves of shacks as the dwellings of the “haves” and “have nots” alternated across the hills. These enclaves grew larger as I approached Durban but so did the shopping centers and restaurants.
From St. Lucia, I drove through the mountainous landscapes of Swaziland while learning about its rock formations and the civilizations that have left their mark, then continued on to Nelspruit. It’s a major tourist town for those heading to Kruger National Park or north to the Blyde River Canyon.
I picked up a day pass for Kruger at the gate and spent Christmas day wildlife spotting in this iconic national park before returning to Johannesburg. I felt exhausted, not only from the driving but also the emotional strain of experiencing the townships and the racism of South Africa. What was I doing here? I’d decided it was enough and it was time to return home, restart my business career and start the new year on a different foot.
But over dinner, I began reading the Mandela quotes I’d written down. I froze. I didn’t want to go back to working in an office and selling software. The journeys of Mandela and Gandhi were tugging at me. I needed to find something more meaningful.
A woman in Swaziland had told me “the soul finds what it’s searching for”. Maybe I needed to trust my soul and continue on this journey. It might be lonely and it might be emotionally difficult but I needed to learn more about Africa and experience as much as I could.
The adventure had really only just begun and I decided I had to make a plan so I would actually achieve something while here. But what could I do? I know how to sell software and could assist in teaching entrepreneurship like at Team4tech. So I started reaching out to friends who pointed me in the direction of organizations such as Meltwater and Innovation Africa. I scheduled in times to meet with them in the new year on a volunteer adventure that will take me through Sub-Saharan Africa and to West Africa. I felt excited once again and ready to do this.
But with a week to kill before I headed north, I didn’t want to stay in Joburg. So I booked a flight to Mozambique for what ended up being an experience in itself.