The Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape is named for the sudden storms, wild winds and heavy seas with the occasional freak wave that have haunted mariners throughout the ages and led to plenty of shipwrecks over the years. Many rivers cut deep into the land on their journey towards the sea and the surrounding plains are rich with fresh green plant life. The coast itself stretches out for miles in long white sandy beaches. This area is also the home of the Xhosa tribe whose most famous son, Nelson Mandela, was born here. Rural life continues often unchanged in the interior.
This is an exhilarating point-to-point ride, from beach to beach, from surf to savannah, past shipwrecks while spotting whales and dolphins in the Indian Ocean. Cross the mighty Kei River on a pontoon with your horse and head into the Transkei to experience rural Africa on horseback. The trail takes in a long stretch of coastline with accommodation in remote traditional hotels in beautiful settings.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from JH of Arapiles on 26/10/2018
On arrival at East London airport, you will be transferred to Kei Mouth Guest Lodge. A light lunch is served, then you will change into your riding clothes and be taken up to the beach paddock.
The afternoon is a short introductory ride around the local area. It will give you the opportunity to blow away those travelling cobwebs and get to know your horse for the week. A relaxed, friendly evening meal awaits you back at the guesthouse along with a good night’s sleep. Overnight at Kei Mouth Guest Lodge.
Your horse riding adventure starts now! After a light breakfast it’s back up to the paddocks. A short ride down to the Kei River and then a crossing by ferry, to ride over rocky headlands and long stretches of beach. The guides will take you to hidden waterfalls for a picnic lunch and a swim if you choose! Then it’s to Trennerys or Seagulls Hotel (both quaint, authentic hotels that give guests a real taste of traditional South African holidaying). Here you can stretch your legs on the beach or unwind with a beer by the pool before enjoying a great dinner, and time with your riding group. Our unhurried itinerary will give you plenty of time to explore the hotel. Overnight at Trennerys or Seagulls Hotel or similar.
You will awake to the sound of the sea and the solitude of being somewhere on the edge of Africa. Now it’s time to move on with a distance of 40km to be covered. Heading out from the hotel you will continue up the coast, traversing rolling hills and sandy beaches and passing through rural settlements. You cross a number of inland river drifts, then the ride veers back to the sea for a breakfast or lunchtime picnic on the beach. Tides permitting, the rest of the day is a breath-taking ride on long, endless beaches, which mean faster riding and the thrill of a good horse in a great location. Another traditional beach hotel, Mazeppa Bay (or similar), is your next stop. Exploring the secluded beach will lead you to a suspension bridge onto one of the only islands along the coast. A pleasant evening spent soaking up the relaxed atmosphere gives riders the opportunity to unwind after a challenging day in the saddle. Overnight at Mazeppa Bay Hotel or similar.
The next leg of your adventure is “The Gorge”. This route takes you through a beautiful river ravine and over some tricky terrain. Once through the rocky river bed, the ride heads back to the sea through valleys and along winding cattle tracks before reaching your next destination – Kob Inn (or similar). You arrive just in time for lunch. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to relax and soak up the laidback hospitality of another coastal treasure. With a pub on the rocks overlooking the wild seas and sheltered private beaches on either side, this is an exquisite location in which to kick back and truly embrace ‘Africa time’. Overnight at Kob Inn Hotel or similar.
Today you should be fresh and ready for a full day in the saddle. The tides dictate the day's schedule which will take you about 20kms up the coast along sheltered beaches, into hidden coves and beautiful lagoons. Your guide will select a suitable spot for you to enjoy a picnic and a swim in a lagoon before heading back to Kob Inn (or similar) for an evening of delicious dining and maybe a few cocktails! Overnight at Kob Inn Hotel or similar.
It’s time to head back down the coast again. Once more, the timing of the day’s riding will be dependent on the tides as you cross rivers, climb hills and speed along beaches on your way to Wavecrest Hotel (or similar). After a good +/- 30km ride, in the afternoon you can choose to indulge in a little pampering at the Wavecrest spa; maybe explore the rare mangrove forests by either boat or canoe. More South African coastal hospitality awaits you as you relax and allow yourself to be spoilt by the Wavecrest team. Overnight at Wavecrest Hotel or similar.
From Wavecrest, if the tide is right, the ride back to Kei Mouth will be fast-paced and along the beach. After dropping your horse off at the beach base for a well-earned rest, you will have a late lunch at the country club. Alternatively, after an inland start, we will stop for lunch en route and hit the beaches at low tide for some fast canters in the afternoon before arriving back in Kei Mouth.
Your last night of trail is spent, once again, at the home and guest lodge of your lovely hosts where they will treat you to a typical South African Braai; finishing off a week of unforgettable riding with the warm hospitality.
The shuttle will pick you up to transfer you back to the airport at 1pm and there should be an opportunity to enjoy one last ride and meet the other horses at the farm; either a ride through the indigenous bush or you may like to ride in the school, do some jumping and swim with your horse in the farm dam before it’s time to say goodbye to your horse and head home or onto new horsey horizons.
All riding and itineraries are subject to change due to variations in local conditions, hotel accommodation availability, rider’s abilities, the weather & the influences of the sea tides and during the rainy season the conditions of the rivers.
Please note that it is compulsory for all riders to wear a protective hard hat when mounted. There are a selection of hats available at Kei Mouth, however it is advised that riders take their own where possible.
Riders will be collected from East London airport on Saturday mornings between 11.35am and 12pm. Recommended flight SA471 from Johannesburg arriving at 11.35am. The transfer will arrive in Kei Mouth, for the beginning of trail at about 1pm
On day of departure riders will be collected at 9am for flights at 12pm or 2pm for flights at 5pm or dropped off at another address as arranged.
Should a rider not be able to arrange their travel to fit in with the above transfers or arrive during the week, the ride is happy to organise a private transfer with the shuttle company. Please enquire for costs. All transfers are payable on-site direct to the driver in SA Rand.
There is no charge for single room occupancy, but single rooms are subject to availability.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There is a large selection of horses to choose from including Arab crosses, Anglo Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Boerperds and Percheron crosses. They all stand between 14.2hh and 16hh and mostly ridden in snaffles. The horses are selected and trained for trail riding with great care; they are the other half of the team that makes your holiday a fantastic experience. Just as your guides are professional and know the area in which they operate, so the horses are familiar with the environment and conditions in which they are ridden. Each horse is handpicked and trained for trail riding. They are sturdy, comfortable to ride, beautiful, forgiving, easy to ride and control, yet lively at command and enjoy their work.
The saddles are especially designed for trail riding by Leon Liversage. The saddle distributes the weight equally on the horses back and is very comfortable for the rider. The design with a high pommel and cantle makes one sit straight automatically and is therefore better for you and the horse. Each horse has its own saddle to ensure a comfortable-and perfect fit. Each saddle is equipped with a splash-proof saddlebag carrying 2 water bottles and can hold a camera and other essentials while out riding for the day. The tack and equipment is scrupulously maintained.
The trail pace varies from walking through the game reserve to enable good game viewing, long trots and canters on open plains, to optional fast gallops down the beaches
Strong intermediate or advanced riders who are comfortable at walk, trot and canter and happy to gallop on the beach. The horses are fit and forward going but gentle and reliable enough for the holiday rider, and also of such a standard that the more experienced rider will have a good time. The trail pace varies from walking through the game reserve to enable good game viewing, long trots and canters on open plains, to fast gallops down the beaches. Riding fitness is helpful in order to enjoy the 30-40km days.
Children can be accepted on the trails as long as they are confident advanced riders who ride regularly and are 12 years and older. There are several excellent ponies available. Riders are required to wear a hard hat on this ride.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation list 2018/2019:
• 1 night Kei Mouth Guest Lodge
• 1 night Trennerys or Seagulls Hotel
• 1 night Mazeppa Bay Hotel
• 2 nights Kob Inn Hotel
• 1 night Wavecrest Hotel
• 1 night Kei Mouth Guest Lodge
Meals: Breakfast: A variety of cereals, farm yogurt, toast, home made jams & preserves, homemade butter, free range eggs, home made sausage, bacon, tomatoes, fruit juice and filter coffee and tea. So you can choose between a traditional English breakfast and the continental equivalent. Breakfast is buffet style.
Lunch: A variety of cold meats, cheese, salads, fresh bread, pudding, fresh fruit juice and fresh fruit are available. Some days we enjoy a pub lunch at one of the local hotels whilst others are a saddlebag picnic. In the late afternoon we savor the last glow of the day while enjoying a selection of wine and malt available. This gives you the perfect opportunity to relax and relive the day's events.
Dinner: At the restaurants there will be a variety of entrees to choose from, including fresh seafood. Dinners are 3 or 4 courses long and a sociable affair! Usually on one evening there will be a traditional South African "braai” or “potjie" with all its trappings. Sizzling tender farm-style beef, venison steaks and mussels bubbling on the coals satisfy a hungry rider after a long day in the saddle and in South Africa many friendships are made around the campfire. Dinners will be accompanied by a selection of good South African wines to complement the meal and finish with a nightcap of local liqueurs.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your return date and has at least 3 blank pages. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
NEW RULES ON TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN - DEC 2019:
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are required will no longer have to carry supporting documents. This is because they would have been required to provide these during the visa application process.
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are not required may be asked to produce supporting documents upon entry. Even though producing supporting documents is no longer compulsory, travellers are strongly advised to carry the supporting documents.
In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be sufficient to establish the identity of the parents of the travelling minor.
General Entry Requirement Information:
A valid passport is required for travel to South Africa for U.K. or most other European nationals. Technically, your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport meets this requirement. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages if you require a visa to enter the country. If you do not need a visa, one blank page will be sufficient. If you are visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa. If you overstay, you are likely to be declared undesirable and denied entry into South Africa in future. The enforcement of these penalties is strict, and appeals can take many months to process. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0230/0233.
In South Africa the UK High Commission is at No.19 Parliament Street, Cape Town, 8001, Tel +27 21461 7220.
The High Commission for the Republic of South Africa in the U.K is at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP. Telephone: (020) 7451 7299. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
January / February: It’s summer, and the weather is hot & humid with afternoon thunder showers, we have to be aware of flooding rivers! While riding, one cools of by swimming the horses in the sea and lagoons.
March: Days are long and warm, still some chances of rain as the wet season tapers off. The riding is good and the sun is not as harsh.
April / May : Autumn, with warm days and blue skies. Good riding weather.
June. July / August: Winter days are dry and warm, with cool nights. The sun sets early, but the weather is so fine you can be out on your horse all day. Good riding weather.
September: The end of winter. It can be windy and wet.
October / November / December: Lovely time of year, everything is green and fresh as the spring rains bring relief to the parched earth. Riding is mostly fine during the day, with late afternoon rainstorms and we have to watch the river crossings. The temperatures are pleasant until around mid-December when the summer heat kicks in.
Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended and if travelling to an area of Malaria risk in season we recommend speaking to your doctor about antimalarial medication. Current Malaria areas are; North-eastern Kwazulu-Natal, low altitude areas of Mpumalanga and low altitude areas of Limpopo. Malaria season is in the summer or rainy season. All travellers should avoid insect and tick bites day and night by using insect repellent and should wear adequate sun protection during the day.
According to the 2018 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence is high among the general population at 18.9%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS; avoid contact with bodily fluids and keep any cuts or wounds properly clean and covered.
We advise speaking to your doctor at least 8 weeks before your trip, to check the latest country-specific health advice and to see if you need any additional vaccinations or precautions while travelling. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. There is no reciprocal health care agreement between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Health and medical facilities are generally of a good standard and readily available near larger centres. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/ medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The electricity supply requires a 3-holed, round pinned adapter. If you have a European two pinned adapter you can buy an adapter at Johannesburg Airport.
Film and batteries can be purchased at East London before you arrive at the Wild coast but we do recommend to stock up before you travel.
• Jodhpurs or riding pants.
• Riding chaps or long boots.
• Own riding hat.
• Shorts for walking and hiking.
• Walking shoes or boots to ride in.
• Flip flops or sandals.
• A couple of light long sleeved shirts with collars to protect you from the sun while riding.
• T shirts and tops.
• Light long trousers. Jeans will do.
• Something comfortable to wear to dinner in the evenings.
• Warm clothing 1 x jersey (jumper/fleece) to ride in and a nice one for the evenings!
• A good warm rain proof coat.
• Light weight rain jacket/wind breaker that can be tied to your saddle.
• Sun block. Factor 50 is recommended!
• Swimming costume and swimming towel.
• A torch (flashlight)
• A camera and binoculars (battery charger).
• South African plug adaptor!
• Reading material
• Other items of a personal nature.
8 days / 7 nights / 6 riding days on set dates. For groups of 2 or more it may be possible to arrange other dates, please enquire.
2020: Jan 18; Feb 22 (FULL); Mar 7; Apr 18; May 2, 30; Jul 4; Aug 1; Sept 26; Oct 31 (FULL); Nov 14.
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‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers; ‘Memories of a Game Ranger’ – Harry Wolhunter; ‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman; ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton, ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ – Fitzpatrick, ‘A Chain of Voices’ – Andre Brink, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – Nelson Mandela. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
OTHER ACTIVITIES AND RECOMMENDED EXTENTIONS:
• Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
• Miarestate Hotel & Spa
• Morgan Bay Hotel & Spa
• Big 5 game drive & elephant interaction
• Township Tours
• Golf & Tennis
• Hikes & walks – mountain bike trails
The flora rejoices in a vast array of indigenous coastal forest, prehistoric Cycads, tree orchids, Kiepersol, Sneezewood and Yellowwood. Lush vegetation with plentiful water, forest and fruit trees provides a beautiful environment for over 250 species of birds. Inland, coastal and sea birds rub shoulders and compete for sky space. Above it all, the regal Fish Eagle can be heard to shriek his haunting cry
Julie-Anne was born into the hospitality trade - her parents were hoteliers. She has ridden horses since she was a small child, competed in show jumping and has now progressed to Endurance and trail riding. She has completed over 3000 km of competitive long distance rides, represented the Eastern Cape 4 times at the South African National Championships, completed several 100 milers and was short listed for the South African National Endurance Riding Team in 2003. Her experience, organizational talent, knowledge and love of horses and cheerful nature make her the perfect trail master and hostess.
Julie-Anne's philosophy reflects her way of life. "We give our guests fabulous horses and ride in the middle of what I regard as paradise. We only take small groups to allow an extremely high level of individual care and has a low impact on our precious environment."
Clint has a degree in agriculture. Together with Julie-Anne he owns a cattle ranch with approx. 200 head of cattle, which is run along holistic principles. Clint is an active conservationist and his knowledge of the African bush is immense. This attitude to nature, his qualifications and his knowledge of the bush and animals makes him an appreciated advisor and guest at nature reserves.
South Africa's land area is 1,228,376 km.2 (larger than The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy & Germany combined). It borders Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland & Zimbabwe to the north, and entirely surrounds Lesotho (a total land border of 4,750 km.) It has a coastline of 2,954 km, with few natural harbours.
The average day in South Africa starts early so the main work of the day is complete before the sun starts to really burn. Shops are open from around 07.30am and it is also acceptable to call people at that time.
South Africa is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country. With its post-apartheid identity still in the process of definition, there is undoubtedly an abundance of energy and sense of progress about the place. The infrastructure is constantly improving, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife.
The international dialing code for South Africa is +27 and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The time zone is GMT plus two hours.
Always collect your luggage on arrival at any local airport and take it through customs. Most of the South African smaller airports don’t have customs clearance. Even if the airline tells you that your luggage can be checked through, it is not true.
At local airports there are a lot of porters who can be of great help if you are in a hurry to find your check in counter or your gate. However they sometimes ask for a lot of money. R 50,00 is more then enough to give them when they have been of great help, if they have only pushed the trolley, R 20,00 should be enough.
If you travel by car and police stop you for speeding or something else you might have done wrong, don’t give them any cash money, always ask for a ticket. If they persist, ask to speak to their supervisor. Also the toll gates don’t take international credit cards.