The Pondo Hopper Slackpacking Trail

Fully supported, multi-day trail along the Wild Coast

Operated by: Active Escapes

Hotel pickup      Languages offered: English and isiZulu      Book direct
Group size: max 24    Minimum age: 12      Meet at location


The Wild Coast is a hiker's paradise! This largely untouched coastline stretches from Port Edward right the way to Cintsa (roughly 300 km) and encompasses some of the most beautiful and rugged parts of South Africa.

This coastline originally got its name from its reputation as a nautical hazard, for which countless shipwrecks bare witness. These days the name has a far more adventurous tone and hikers in this region will have little doubt that this stretch still deserves the name: "Wild Coast".

Common scenes on the Wild Coast include ocean-plunging waterfalls, massive caves etched out of sheer cliffs, undulating hills, precipitous headlands, sweeping bays, mangrove-fringed river mouths and long, lonely beaches - all of which the local Xhosa people call home.

The Pondo Hopper Slackpacking Trail is a great option for hikers who want to explore this rugged and pristine section of the Wild Coast without the hassle of planning and arranging meals, accommodation etc.

  • Sunset paddle up the deepest estuary in SA (Msikaba)
  • Visit the Cape Vulture colony
  • Grosvenor excavations
  • Shipwrecks
  • Ocean spray at Luphuthana
  • Waterfall Bluff (falls into the ocean)
  • Mfhilo Falls
  • Natural swimming pools on the Mlambomkulu
  • Cathedral Rock
  • Friendly Pondo villages
  • Ocean views
  • Sardine run (June-July)

Package options

5 Night Pondo-Hopper

Note: Prices subject to change, correct at August 2019.
4-6 Persons - R7900/ pp
7 -8 Persons – R7700/ pp
9 -10 Persons – R7300/ pp
11 -15 Persons – R7200/ pp
16+ Persons – R7000/ pp

3 Night Pondo-Hopper

Note: Prices subject to change, correct at August 2019.
2 Persons – R6200/ pp
3 Persons – R5900/ pp
4 -6 Persons – R5300/ pp
7 -10 Persons – R5000/ pp
11+ Persons – R4800/ pp

* Children Rates will be quoted based on ratio of full paying adults.
* This fully supported/catered Pondo-Hopper trail can only be offered outside of the peak school holiday periods.
* Minimum 2 persons (3 night trail) or 4 persons (5 night trail) - maximum 24 persons for the tented camps.

Slackpacking is a style of multi-day hiking where the hiker's main luggage is transported from camp to camp by a support team enabling the hikers to travel light on the trail. It's a fantastic way to explore the Wild Coast as there are loads of incredible things to see and do along the way, not to mention it makes hiking all those undulating hills a lot more bearable.

Wild coast hikers and view
Travelling light on the trail.
The Manteku estuary
Approaching the Manteku estuary.

The trail starts at Msikaba and finishes at Mbotyi (3 night trail) or Port St Johns (5 night trail).

Daily Distances

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

Physical fitness: Grade 3

The gradients are easy-going for the first two days. On days 3 and 4 the climbs get a little steeper, however the distances are also shorter.

Technicality: Grade 2

Limited scrambling is required throughout the hike. There are a few sheer sections that lead to great view points, however these are optional.

Cathedral rock wild coast hike
Cathedral Rock is a real icon on the Wild Coast.

Trail Terrain

Most of the trail will be along animal tracks in open coastal grasslands. Various sections descend into deep forest ravines and gorges. Many of the bays are bordered by rocky headlands, while there are also long stretches of fine, sandy beaches.

msikaba coastline wild coast
A few rocky sections on the beach.
wild coast hiking trail south africa
The coastal grasslands of the Wild Coast.


1 Night Dinner Bed and Breakfast at Mbotyi River Lodge.
2 or 4 Nights in a tented camps. These camps consist of twin bedded safari tents on wooden platforms, under thatch bomas. There are also ensuite ablutions as well as hot water from gas showers. All your meals will be prepared and served in the central dining boma.

The terrain and distances are well within the abilities of an average hiker, and there is plenty of time off the trail to engage in some of the other activities on offer on the Wild Coast including fishing, canoeing and swimming.

Ntafufu camp
Ntafufu tented camp.

Logistic Support

This is a fully catered and supported trail. A path-finder and guide is included as well as maps of the trail.

Activity information


  • Transfer from the trail end point (5 day trail: Port St Johns, 3 day trail: Mbotyi) to the starting point at Msikaba.
  • 3 or 5 nights' accommodation: 1 Night (Dinner Bed and Breakfast) at Mbotyi River Lodge, the remainder of the nights in private tented camps.
  • All Meals: Dinner, breakfast and packed lunches on hike days.
  • Local hiking guide and a pathfinder on all days.
  • Daily luggage transfers and vehicle support.
  • Reserve permits and trail fees.
  • Emergency support service.
  • Canoes – available at Msikaba & Manteku camps.

What To Wear

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Layered clothing (particularly in winter - May - August)
  • Cap

What To Bring

  • Sun screen protection
  • Spare socks
  • Toothbrush

Additional Information

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.


Mild sub-tropical climate with small seasonal temperature variation. The summer months (Nov - Feb) average maximum temperatures of around 27-29 degrees Celsius whilst the winter months (June - Aug) are much milder and average maximum temperatures of around 21 degrees Celsius. Nighttime temperatures seldom drop below 10 degrees Celsius in winter and average around 15 degrees Celsius in summer. Most rain is received from summer thunderstorms (around 150mm/month in Nov – Feb), whilst the driest months, June-August, produce an average of 40mm/month.

Seasonality and best time of 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 en route 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.

Meet up information

Where to meet (5 night hike)

Outspan Inn


Main Road, Port St Johns


Where to meet (3 night hike)

Mbotyi River Lodge



Group Rates Available

Active Escapes

Clicking on this open an email link to Active Escapes.