Words & Images Andrew Stone
Adventurous travellers have for centuries pitted themselves against the Wild Coast, the ruggedly beautiful but occasionally ruthless stretch of coastline on South Africa’s eastern seaboard.
Those prepared to tackle the region’s remoteness and notoriously bad roads have been richly rewarded. It’s achingly beautiful in places, and just when you think there could not be a more breathtaking spot, you round the next bend and are proved wrong.
For generations, hardy South African families have returned each year to holiday along this stretch of coast, swapping ox-wagons for 4x4s over the years as they make their way to places like
Coffee Bay, Hole in the Wall, Lubanzi, Mazeppa Bay, Wavecrest, Khobonqaba and Qolora Mouth.
However, it’s been only during the past five years that I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the area – and then mostly for work – but have always returned to enthral my family with tales of the scenic places visited. And it is not only the beauty of the Wild Coast that has captured my imagination, as I’ve also been fascinated by the number of shipwrecks and the stories of the early survivors who were forced to walk to safety, sometimes in places as far away as Mozambique.
While I was deciding to combine these interests into a family holiday, the idea of the Wild Coast Shipwreck Tour was born: an informal, six-day, five-night self-drive journey across the southern half of the Wild Coast, visiting some of the region’s most iconic shipwreck sites and some of my favourite spots.
Although the coastline is littered with wrecks, those featured in this article cover a 400-year period and their stories are as unique as the resorts located near them. Although only a handful of Wild Coast wrecks is still visible, this doesn’t mean you can’t find traces of the rest.