Pondo-Hopper Trail

 

Probably the most unique coastal trails in South Africa, with the opportunity to hike and explore one of this remote area of the 'Wild Coast'. The contrast between the green, grassy hills, small forest ravines and long stretches of dark, sandy beach is a hikers dream. For the most part, away from human habitation and the chance to connect with nature and visit some incredible waterfalls, cliff faces, rock formations and fast running streams with spectacular vistas up and down the coast. The tented camps are rustic, but comfortable, the food extra-ordinarily good and the night at the Mboyti River Lodge encourages a second visit to the area. Competent guides, great travel arrangements and a once in a life time experience.

Trail Details

Trail location

The trail is located on the Pondoland coast in the Eastern Cape

Nearest city

The nearest town to the start is Lusikisiki and the trail finishes at Port St Johns

Transport options

The trail is a long way from any transport hub. A shuttle can be arranged from Durban (6 hours) or East London (5 hours) or self-drive. Transport from Port St John's to the start is included in the cost.

Trip Duration / Options

Option 1: 3 nights / 3 days of hiking
Option 2: 5 night / 5 days of hiking

Extra nights at Misikaba or Port St Johns by arrangement.

Start / Finish

Start: Msikaba River Mouth – Adventure Camp – GPS: 31˚32'11.88 S / 29˚96'54.61 E

Finish: Port St Johns – GPS: 31˚62'19.57 S / 29˚54'67.19 E

Daily Time / Distances

Day 1: 16km    Day 2: 18.5km    Day 3: 11km 
Day 4: 10km    Day 5: 13km

Trail Grading

On a grading of grading of Easy-Moderate-Strenuous

This trail should be regarded as moderate with short strenuous sections. There are some steep climbs, mild exposure in places and some coastal rock scrambling.

Physical Fitness

A good level of hiking fitness required. Recommend regular long hikes in preparation. 

Easy gradient for first 2 days but higher daily distances. More gradient ascent (steeper hill climbs) on Day's 3 & 4, but shorter days.

Technical detail / Terrain

Traversing grasslands with deep forest ravines & gorges, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and friendly Pondo villages.

Limited coastal rocky scrambling with some steep, fairly exposed hill climbs and grassy paths with short exposed drop offs. Sheer sections for view look-out points (optional)

Accommodation

1 Night DBB at Mbotyi River Lodge
2 or 4 Nights – Tented Camps -twin bedded safari tents on wooden platforms under thatch boma's – with en-suite ablutions & hot water gas shower. Central dining boma where your meals will be prepared & served.

Food Supply / Catering

This is a fully catered & supported trail. 

Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks not included, own supply can be transported.

Logistic support / Guiding

A locally trained guide is will lead the group. Maps will also be supplied for interest

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Highlights

Saunset paddle up the Msikaba estuary & a visit to the Vulture Colony; excavation remains from treasure-seekers at Grosvenor, shipwrecks, golden miles of unspoilt beach, incredible spray display at Luphuthana, Waterfall Bluff, Cathedral Rock, Mfhilo Falls, natural swimming pools on the Mlambomkulu, friendly Pondo villages. Breathtaking views.

Other Activities

Canoeing on Msikaba and Manteku Estuaries (canoes available free from the camps), excellent rock & surf fishing, birding, ocean swimming and snorkelling opportunities.

Fauna & Flora

The Pondoland Centre of Endemism is one of the most important centres of plant diversity and endemism in Africa with over 2 253 recorded flora species, 196 of which are endemic to the region.

Climate

Mild sub-tropical climate with small seasonal temperature variation. Summer months (Nov – Feb), avg max daily temperatures of around 27-29 degrees celsius whilst winter months (June – Aug) avg 21 deg C. Night temps seldom drops below 10 deg C in winter and average around 15 deg C in summer. Most rain is received from summer thunderstorms (avg of 150mm/month in Nov – Feb), whilst the driest months, June-Aug produce an average of 40mm/month.

Seasonality & Best Time Year

Due to its temperate climate, Pondoland is good for hiking all year round. Whilst summer days can be quite sweaty, a refreshing swim in the ocean or river enroute becomes all the more inviting. Summer rainfall is usually in the form of quick thundershowers which pass quickly. Summer is also best for birdlife. The mild weather, sunny days and low probability of rain during winter also make this an excellent time (and a welcome retreat from the biting cold of an interior winter). Spring and Autumn months generally combine the best of all conditions. 

Availability: This fully supported/catered Pondo-Hopper trail can only be offered outside of the peak school holiday periods.

Group Size

Minimum 2 persons – maximum 24 persons for the tented camps.

Price P/P

5 Night Pondo-Hopper: 
only offered to grps of 4 or more. Final cost subject to individual quote – 
estimate below:

4-6 Persons – R7500/ pp
7 -8 Persons – R7300/ pp
9 -10 Persons – R6900/ pp  

3 Night Pondo-Hopper

2 Persons – R5700/ pp
3 Persons – R5500/ pp
4 -6 Persons – R4900/ pp  

* Children Rates will be quoted based on ratio of full paying adults

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Price Includes

  • Transfer from Port St John's (or Mbotyi) to Msikaba trail head
  • 3 or 5 Nights Accommodation: 1 Night (DBB) at Mbotyi River Lodge & remainder of nights in private tented camps
  • All Meals: Dinner, Breakfast & Packed lunch on hike days
  • Local Hiking Guide/pathfinder on all days
  • Daily Luggage Transfers & Vehicle Support
  • Reserve Permits & Trail Fees
  • Emergency Support Service
  • Canoes – available at Msikaba & Manteku Camps

Optional Extras: 
Extra day at Grosvenor Inn (splits first hike day into 2) – R1000/pp
Extra night at Mbotyi Hotel – R850 – R1000/pp

Here you'll find any scheduled trails that you can join. Trails may be booked up to one year in advance, so be sure to scroll ahead using the arrows on the left to find if there are any available.  The trail operator page will also list any scheduled trails.

If you would like to enquire about different dates, please fill in the form below.  Trails are initiated when someone makes an enquiry, and go ahead once the minimum numbers are confirmed.

Scheduled Pondo-Hopper Trails

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