While travelling with Baz Bus you get to know a lot of people and with most of them, you exchange advice on which stops you can happily skip and which stops are an absolute must do on your road trip. Most people recommend different things
, since every person has its own priorities, personal taste, and travel goals. But there is one certain thing on which every single person I have met during this trip without exception agreed: You MUST go to Coffee Bay!
So I went, being super curious about what fascinated all these people about this place. Arriving there, I get it pretty fast.
The shuttle from Mthatha takes a while to get to Coffee Bay, but regardless of the distance of the ride, you get to enjoy every single minute in the minibus. Driving along the curvy road, passing thousands of light green grassy hills, covered with traditional African rondawels, I say to myself: This is how I imagined the “real” Africa to be. It reminds me a lot of Lesotho, only brighter and somehow, fresher.
Coffee Bay is located in the heart of Transkei, the area in South Africa that is still characterised by the traditional Xhosa way of life. Crossing this area, watching the unindustrialized beauty of this country, I realised this is exactly what I wanted to see!
THE HOLE IN THE WALL HIKE – A HILLY MATTER
One of the must do’s activities around this area is the hike to the Hole in the Wall, an extraordinary rock formation located at a tropical beach in the heart of the Wild Coast.
As we stayed at the Coffee Shack Backpackers, which provides a cheap shuttle service to that beach, we decided to take a lift there and then hike back to the hostel. The walk is about 9 kilometers long, takes about three hours and is considered as quite manageable. So let’s go! If you take the shuttle, make sure you sit down at the back of the van. It is so much easier to enjoy the scenic beauty around you- just like that – and the drive is so much more fun!
The Drop off point is on top of a hill that faces the beach. From there you can already see the Hole in the Wall and even from the distance it already looks spectacular. But as we get closer, slowly, making our way down the grassy hill, walking along the beach inlet at the bay, the appearance of this massive rock formation becomes absolutely stunning. It is HUGE and the way the waves cosily break on it making their way towards the beach through the hole create such a nice and peaceful atmosphere.
When the temperatures allow you to, go and enjoy a closer view while taking a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water. Though it might appear tempting, you should definitely avoid taking a swim through the hole when the waves are too strong – never underestimate the strength of the ocean! You don’t want to find yourself being pushed against the rock by a heavy wave. So we rather stay on the safer side – and this is clearly enough to spend an amazing time at this stunningly beautiful place.
After relaxing at the Hole in the Wall, we decided it was time to start the hike. The path takes us along the beach, where cows are snugly cuddling at the shore, enjoying their tropical surroundings and the sunny weather, just as much as we do. We move further to another extraordinary mountain formation – a massive slot, framed by two extremely high rocks. And as we imagine, how amazing the view from up there must be, we cannot resist, but climb up there. It is super steep and super hard, but absolutely worth it! It gives you an amazing view of the Hole in the Wall from a totally different angle. And from down at the bottom, you appear ridiculously small which is super funny on pictures. It’s definitely worth climbing up there quickly before continuing the hike, it only takes about five minutes.
Our walk goes on along a wonderful beach side and takes us into a small village. Getting here, we face what is considered the only slightly tricky part of the hike – a really, really high hill that the locals, including our shuttle driver, lovingly call the “Mama Hill”. The Mama Hill actually becomes quite of a challenge since it, in fact, is very steep. We conquered it in approximately 15 minutes and got rewarded with another stunning view of the whole area. I must admit the top of Mama Hill feature unique rondawels on your left, a few cows judgmentally watching you on your right and nothing but wide yellowish green hills in front of you. This untouched nature is unbelievably peaceful and the calm atmosphere makes you feel connected to everything around you. Just wonderful!
The rest of the hike leads you around a few of the various beautiful grassy hills of this valley, moving mostly along the coastline and basically using tiny goat paths. This part of the hike will take you up and down and up and down again, but at least there are no steep inclines as to climb the Mama Hill – so let’s say it’s easy!
Without any doubt, I would say it’s one of the scenically most beautiful hikes you can do in South Africa!
THE COFFEE SHACK – NOT JUST A SURFER’S PARADISE
Second morning at Coffee Shack – another day to fill with activity. This turns out to be quite easy at this backpacker
since it has a load of opportunities to offer. This place is especially famous for its unbeatable deals considering surfing lessons, from single sessions to whole five–day packages. Single sessions are available three times a day, so you will definitely get your chance – just make sure to put your name on the list at the reception the day before. The backpacker provides everything you need, including the boards and a fitting wetsuit. Pick up point is at the hostel and the surf instructor walks with you to the surfing beach which is about 5-10 minutes away.
Surfing lesson starts with an instruction ashore, explaining you how to handle the surfing board and the motion sequences in the water. Coffee Shack surfing instructors definitely make sure you know what to do once you hit the waves. Still, getting on the board is so hard! And during your first lesson, you can be super proud if you actually manage to stand on the board for a few seconds. After this, you deserve a huge meal – and trust me, you are going to be hungry!
Surfing lessons are not the only thing the Coffee Shack has to offer. This backpacker bribes with a number of free activities, such as for example several parties with free drinks, free Sunday dinners or pool competitions.
An absolute highlight for me was the free sunset drive. Just a few minutes before sunset, you jump into a safari car and the driver takes you up to a sensational viewing point on top of a hill at the ocean side. Prepare yourself for an amazing sunset, overlooking the entire beach while having a cold drink – an incomparable experience in between a beautiful, typical African landscape like this. Absolutely priceless!
Looking back at my trip so far,
I can, without a doubt, say that Coffee Bay has been one of my favourite places to visit. It offers an incomparable scenic beauty and the charm of the untouched Africa.
Plus, the generosity of Coffee Shack Backpackers made our stay an unforgetable experience! Go stay at this wonderful place!
If I needed to summarize, I would say Coffee Bay is very close to paradise – and not just for surfers!
Written by Angela Kolbe.