Visiting the Wild Coast, what to know going to Luphathana and Msikaba. A secluded part of the South African coastline characterized by steep cliffs carved into unique rock formations by crashing waves.
If you are not interested in reading the detail and only want the facts you can scroll down to the bottom
Getting there offers many challenges and a vehicle with good ground clearance is a must.
Roads in general are not good and once you leave the main road things deteriorate quickly. Go there in the rainy season and you will be confronted with traction issues negotiating mud and rugs sliding past oncoming traffic and taxis that are stuck on the best part of the road. Once you are past the busy urban/villages the beauty of the area is the first thing you will notice, open grasslands meets you and you quickly forget about the challenging road winding through the hills.
Once you have reached Luphathana things get interesting, a river crossing is between your vehicle and your destination. Not a deep or difficult crossing but considering the fact that all your luggage needs to be carried over which includes bedding, food, kids, drinks and whatever electronic gadgets you have. It does pose a challenge navigating your way over a rocky river. Luckily there are helpful locals that will assist for a small fee.
There are 12 permanent tents with on suite bathrooms and two single beds that all share a communal kitchen. This is all managed by a guy called Lucky. We were indeed very lucky to have Lucky there and were very well taken care of by him, by making sure we had firewood in the evenings and that our five day stay was something not to forget.
What to do at Luphathana
This is a hikers paradise. If you love nature, outdoor and truly beautiful scenes, this is a must.
Amazing waves. This is the first obvious place to go. You will see the waves slamming upwards on the rocky shore from far and if you are brave and foolish like me to dare stand right in front of it, you will better understand the term ‘take my breath away’. The overwhelming fear and anxiety of a five meter water cliff right in front of you is an experience even the brave struggle with. Please do not do this at home, this is dangerous and a simple misjudgement can have disastrous consequences.
Swimming pools. About 800 meter’s walk from the campsite next to one of the side rivers, you will come upon a nice swimming place in crystal clear water even during all the rains we have had. Water wasn’t too cold and perhaps even warmer than the ocean. You can swim underneath some rock falls and have a nice picnic. The drinking water is sourced a bit further upstream.
The great walk to Waterfall Bluff and Cathedral Rock . The only way to witness the Waterfall bluff is by foot about 3 to 4 kilometres walk from Luphathana which is the closest place to get to by vehicle. The walk is not difficult with a clear path starting from Luphathana. During the rainy season the walkway can become soaked and muddy and sometimes one has to walk next to the trail on the grass. It is all open grass with great views of the smashing waves in the beginning of the trail giving way to rising cliffs that finally reveals the Mambomkulu river that meats the ocean by means of a beautiful waterfall.
- The whole northern part of the Wild coast is part of a five hiking trail stretching from Port Edward to Port St. Johns. Drifters is the booking agent of 4 of these camp sites. We stayed at Luphathana and Msikaba, they have pretty much the same layout.
- Unless you arranged for a catered stay, take everything you need with. There is no electricity (Luphathana has a small charge point) and everything works from solar power and gas.
- There is plenty of freezer space, although the deep freeze only cools and do not freeze.
- At Msikaba one can get close to the tents with your vehicle but at Luphathana your vehicle is on the other side of the river about 300m away.
- If you are only interested to view the Waterfall Bluff, you can park at Luphathana and do a day hike to the waterfall, you do not need to stay there.
- There are no shops nearby, what you do not take with you, you will have to go without or spend the day to go get it at Lusikisiki. Locals do sell mussels and crayfish that are way too small to be legal.
- From Lusikisiki to Luphathana is 36km, be prepared to drive up to 2 hours.
- From Luphathana to Msikaba is also 36km and up to 2 hours of driving.
- Cell phone reception is limited with nothing at the camp sites. You will need to walk around to find signal.
Where to book : https://www.drifters.co.za/wild-coast-adventure-introduction/
What to take
- Blankets, pillows and linen.
- Food, drinks and snacks.
- The water is river water but drinkable.
- Firewood/Charcoal if you want to braai. The firewood they provided were wet and no good to get the meat cooked.
- It can get cold even during the summer – prepare for this.
- Insect repellent for mosquito and other bugs; got some serious bites whilst there.
- Fishing rods and equipment if you’re into that. There are very good fishing spots all over.
- Cameras, drones, go-pros and all the gadgets you need to capture your adventure. Make sure you have enough backup power to support this, either from your vehicle or power banks. Luphathana has one power plug point though.
The Wild Coast is a truly amazing experience, getting away from civilization and life as you know it. The scenery is amazing and for the hiker or even mountain biker there is plenty of places to go and experience.
It has a very unique coastline with very little development along it which makes it an excellent break away from day to day living. I guess there are many reasons why it is called the wild coast. Mine is the following: Many ships have succumbed to this coastline by the wild seas and treacherous weather. I would know, I lost my very own vessel in bad weather conditions (Solo Drone). The wrecks are scattered all over this area such as the Jacaranda wreck that can be seen at the southern part and Wreck of the Grosvenor which a part of the wreck is still to be found and it is believed treasures are still lying in the rocky depths. The coastline is wild, rugged and very unforgiving with very few swimming places or launch sites in the area which makes the area unique and beautiful. Travelling by car is difficult and takes long with all the roads going far inland, therefore to get to the other side of the river can take hours of driving, but most of the beautiful places are not accessible by road.
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