This breathtakingly scenic ‘tamer’ section of the Wild Coast languishes along the muddy roil of the Great Kei River, within easy reach of Port Elizabeth and the N2, inland from the Indian Ocean coastline. The whole of the Old Transkei rates as one of SA’s most undiscovered cycling destinations and, if you consider yourself as a staunch biking brave, a pedal into the heart of Pondoland will deliver the riding experience of a lifetime.
The area around Morgan’s Bay boasts rollicking rides along hiking paths, cattle tracks and gravel roads hugging the ocean shore. Beach cruising is part of the deal, though, so make sure you time your rides to coincide with low tide and a firm strip of beach.
On your bike
What do you mean, The Route? When you head into the old Transkei, you have to find your own route, so a GPS or compass and a set of maps are a must. Estuary crossings, mangrove marshes, rocky hiking trails, rutted single-track and speedy gravel roads, all set within the gorgeous amaXhosa heartland, make this the ride you’ve always dreamt about.
If you’re in the mood for a quickie, you should head west from Kei Mouth to Morgan Bay and then out of town along a gravel track heading west just above the main beach and onto the dramatic cliffs rising above the tempestuous Wild Coast surge. The cliff-top trail makes for some technical riding as it is a local hiking trail, so keep it tidy. You could stick to the steep jeep tracks just inland from the cliffs that lead to the Double Mouth Reserve (4km from Morgan Bay), stopping from time to time to admire the view from the cliff tops.
For a beefier ride, jump on the Kei Ferry and head up the steep gravel road on the other side, looking for a jeep-tack to your right once you’re at the top. Enjoy the view before crank/carrying down to the beach and across the Gxara River. From here, crank about 2km along the beach until you find a jeep-track turning inland. Follow this track past local homes, keeping right at the fork and right again when you hit the tar road down to Qolora Mouth.
Enjoy a well merited pub lunch at the Trenerys Hotel (www.trennerys.co.za) before heading back. Leave the tar where you came in earlier, climbing back up to the ‘village’. Instead of turning left to go back down to the beach, you can head straight up and on through a small forest. Keep your eyes peeled for a trail on your left; walk this descent if you’re not a technical buff. A steep crank up the other side takes you through another Xhosa village, spitting you out onto the main dirt road where you hook a left and enjoy the fast blast back to the ferry crossing.
Off the bike
If it’s summer time on the Wild Coast, anything goes in the great outdoors. Hike the scenic Strandloper Trail (or the Wild Coast Meander if you’re keen to sleep in a comfy bed at night), otherwise wander off on a day tramp to Double Mouth Nature Reserve. Saddle up for a horse ride along the cliffs, surf a solid point break, go game viewing, watch humpback whales or simply soak up the sun on the beach.
Telephone: +27 (0)43 841 1062
GPS: 32°42’31.9”South / 28°20’30.3”East