The infamously dangerous 300km coastline between East London and Port Edward known as the Wild Coast has been described by experienced seafarers as South Africa’s own Bermuda Triangle; where ships disappear without a trace.
Historically the name “Wild Coast” is an exceedingly accurate appelation as well; in that the area where it is geo-politically located; the Transkei (which literally means across the Kei River) never really succumbed to colonial rule. Even until today the Transkei Wild Coast remains one of the last unspoiled frontiers of South Africa, and a cultural crucible for the amaXhosa people
What is the Transkei? Literally the Transkei is the country north of the Kei River. Politically it is an area once defined as a Bantustan, or a semi-autonomous receptacle for the unwanted blacks of the apartheid economic system, but currently it exists under the South African government after the reintegration of 1994. The demographics of the Transkei (nowadays a classification rather than a political subdivision) still correspond broadly with those defined by the apartheid system, and the region is home to predominantly Xhosa speakers, with a smattering of other groups. It is an overwhelmingly rural and communal society, with the broad social aspect of the territory being one of village homesteads and small community business centers hosting at most a local shop, a school and a bar.
The capital of the Transkei is Mthatha, formally Umtata, although the main destination for visitors to the area is Port St John situated on the coast. From a tourist perspective the Transkei is defined by the Wild Coast itself, and the Wild Coast is defined by some 250 kilometers of unspoilt dune beaches, deep estuaries and rich riparian forests. There are a handful of hotels and back packers lodges scattered up the length of the coast, including the Wild Coast Casino Hotel immediately on the Transkei side of the Umtanvuna River, but others less overtly themed, and a handful of excellent community run tourist projects that transport one back to the intimacy of life on the brink of nature.