Haga-Haga ocean view
Destination Activities,  DESTINATIONS,  Eastern Cape,  The Wild Coast

Easy to reach places along the Wild Coast, incl. Jikeleza Route

Extending from the Kei River mouth in the Eastern Cape to the Mtamvuna River, bordering KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s Wild Coast embodies its name with its raw and unspoiled beauty. It presents a mesmerizing blend of breathtaking coastline, rugged cliff faces, pristine and desolate beaches, secluded bays, and green rolling hills that cascade into deep river valleys. Despite its undeniable allure, the area remains relatively undiscovered due to limited infrastructure and challenging road conditions.

Thankfully, though, there are several amazing destinations near East London, stretching as far as Kei Mouth, easily reachable via a sufficient road network accessible to all vehicles. Some of these lie along the Jikeleza Wild Coast Route, just outside the official boundaries of the Wild Coast Region, yet they still capture the authentic essence and charm of the area. Keep reading to uncover the beauty and adventure that await along this stunning coastline.

Easy-to-reach-places along South Africa’s Wild Coast (incl. Jikeleza Route)

Areena Riverside Resort

Areena Riverside Resort Jikeleza Wild Coast

Distance from East London: Approximately 29 kilometers (30 minutes)

Situated on the serene banks of the Kwelera River, Areena is a family resort with plenty of things to do. The accommodation options here cater to various budgets, from riverside camping and chalets to self-catering accommodations. Their big swimming pool is awesome, especially when itโ€™s a really hot summerโ€™s day! If youโ€™re looking for a variety of adventurous activities, then Areena Resort has that too. From ziplining to hiking, quad bikingriver cruises and team building obstacle courses. The Areena Quays restaurant serves the most amazing Sunday lunch buffet, as well as an a-la-carte menu. There’s even a spa within the resort that offers various treatments. Most likely the highlight for any traveller to Areena, though, is an interaction with Abby, a 14 year old giraffe. If youโ€™re lucky, Abby might even accompany you on one of the hiking trails across the reserve!

READ MORE >>> Hiking at Areena: Special memories with a giraffe

READ MORE >>> Our weekend stay and ziplining fun at Areena Resort

Olivewood Estate

Distance from East London: Approximately 35 kilometers (30-35 minutes)

Olivewood Estate, nestled near the heart of East London, is both a luxury residential estate and a high-end hotel center. The resort has, amongst other amenities, an 18-hole golf course, a 24 bedroom boutique hotel, hiking and mountain biking trails, a spa and two restaurants. As a day visitor, you can enjoy either of the restaurants on site – the Club House or the Governors House.

The Governors House Olivewood Estate
The Governors House Restaurant, Olivewood

READ MORE >>> Olivewood Estate: Where Luxury & Serenity Meet

Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve

Distance from East London: Approximately 40km (35 minutes)

Inkwenkwezi is a private game reserve, home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, including rhino and rare white lions. You can visit for the day or stay overnight, which is great for a quick trip from East London or a longer weekend getaway. Activities include game drives, canoeing, a forest walk and guided quad biking tour. The Sunday lunch buffet at the Enthombeni Restaurant is outstanding, as are their Friday steak evenings.

Where to stay at Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve

Inkwenkwezi Tented Camp Wild Coast
Inkwenkwezi Tented Camp

If you’re planning a stay at Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve, you’re in for a treat when it comes to lodging. Within the reserve, the luxury tented accommodation is made up of 6 Bush Camp and 7 Valley Camp structured tents. Each unit is private and blends into the natural surroundings. On the lookout for something more budget-friendly? Then, check out Umnenga Lodge located outside of the park within a 10 minute drive of Inkwenkwezi.

READ MORE >>> Inkwenkwezi Reserve: How to spend one day


Chintsa Wild Coast

Distance from East London: Approximately 45km / 35 minute drive

If youโ€™re looking for an amazing beach destination with long stretches of sand and warm, safe waters to swim, then Chintsa is a great choice! The village is divided into two parts: Chintsa West, which is closer to the beach, and Chintsa East, a more residential area. The small village has a very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. So, itโ€™s a great place to simply unwind and enjoy endless beach days.

Where to stay in Cintsa

Cintsa offers a wide range of accommodations to suit different preferences, ranging from caravan and camping sites, bed and breakfasts, self-catering chalets, to upscale guest houses and luxury resorts. One of the popular resorts in Cintsa is the renowned Crawfords Beach Lodge, which also features a spa. For stunning views and a tranquil atmosphere, the Purple Haze Eco Lodge is my personal top choice. Buccaneers on the Beach, popular with budget-conscious travelers, continues to be a cherished option, offering a wonderful beachfront experience. Adding to the allure of the region, the recent addition of the lavish Prana Lodge, complete with an attached restaurant and spa, is a luxurious option for a higher end budget.

Purple Haze Eco Lodge Chintsa
Purple Haze Eco Lodge

Other places of interest in Chintsa

TEa in the Trees Chintsa
Tea in the Trees, Chintsa

While exploring Cintsa, make sure to include a visit to the quaint Tea in the Trees, a lovely little restaurant serving great food and drinks.

Emerald Vale Brewery, Chintsa

Established in April 2012, the Emerald Vale Brewery draws its name from the sprawling 400-hectare Emerald Farm. While the brewery is well loved by beer drinkers, it’s more than just a craft beer venue. Their on-site restaurant serves up delicious meals and non-alcoholic drinks, too. You can also enjoy hikes, runs, or mountain bike rides along the trails that wind through the farm.

READ MORE >>> Emerald Vale Brewery: Where Scenic Trails meet Craft Beer

Heading north from the Cintsa region, you’ll discover the true starting point of the famed ‘Wild Coast.’ This accessible stretch of coastline provides a perfect retreat for beach lovers and those seeking a laid-back and unhurried way of life.

Haga Haga

Distance from East London: Approximately 67 kilometers (1 hour)

Haga-Haga is an idyllic little coastal village that is the epitome of the Wild Coast. Haga Haga and its neighboring areas have been designated as a nature and marine conservancy, preserving the regionโ€™s rich diversity of indigenous plants and wildlife. Activities include swimming, surfing, fishing, hiking, bird watching and beach walks. This laid-back village is all about relaxation and quiet. It also boasts the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets, so be sure to not miss those!

READ MORE >>> Haga-Haga: A weekend off the beaten track

Where to stay in Haga-Haga

Oppieplaas Country Estate Hadeda Studio
Oppieplaas Country Estate (Hadeda Studio)

Although Haga-Haga offers limited accommodation options, the choices available are nothing short of outstanding. Among the options, I really loved my time at Oppieplaas Country Estate.

READ MORE >>> Oppieplaas Country Estate: A top choice in Haga-Haga

Morgan Bay

Distance from East London: Approximately 83 kilometers (1 hour)

Resting between Kei Mouth to the North and Haga Haga to the South, lies the idyllic coastal gem of Morgan Bay. With its beautiful beaches, excellent fishing spots, thrilling surfing waves, and scenic hiking trails, it’s a paradise for nature lovers. The iconic Morgan Bay Cliffs, standing at about 50 meters tall, offer unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean. Whether you’re seeking a spot to enjoy a stunning sunset or an adventurous hiking route, these cliffs perfectly represent the raw and untamed beauty of the Wild Coast.

READ MORE >>> Morgan Bay: Discover the Best Things to do

Kei Mouth

Distance from East London: Approximately 84 kilometers (1 hour)

The Cross Viewpoint, Kei Mouth

Kei Mouth is an off-the-beaten-path coastal village located at the mouth of the Kei River. With cows often lazying around on the roads or strolling along the beach, there’s certainly an element of adventure during a visit to Kei Mouth. One of the unique features of Kei Mouth is the famous Pont, a pontoon facilitating the crossing of vehicles and people over the river. It also serves as an easy gateway to the true Wild Coast. The stunning coastal location of Kei Mouth offers opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. There’s a lot of options also if you enjoy water sports, such as canoeing, fishing, and boating along the Kei River. Hiking is another great way to explore the area with fantastic views of the coastline providing a backdrop to most of the trails.

READ MORE >>> Kei Mouth: Discover the best things to do

Where to stay in Kei Mouth

Despite its small size, Kei Mouth offers a diverse range of accommodation options to suit various preferences. Among these, one of my personal favorites is the Nautical Beach Cottage, a cute self-catering chalet that is lovely but also budget-friendly.

READ MORE >>> Kei Mouth Self-catering Accommodation: Nautical Beach Cottage

In short, the Wild Coast of South Africa is incredibly beautiful and untouched. While some places might be hard to reach because of road issues, there are still lots of nearby spots around East London that show off the area’s different landscapes.

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