With just one month to go, many first-time Wildcoast Wildrunners will be wondering what exactly lies ahead during their three-day boutique running holiday along South Africa’s Wild Coast.
The Transkei section of the Wild Coast is rural South Africa at its best and the roads to the coast lead a visitor through the Xhosa heartland, a stunning landscape of rolling green hills dotted with thatched rondavels, offering interesting glimpses into a traditional South African culture far removed from the stresses of modern life. Taking this in on foot, along daily routes that traverse both hard packed sand and grassy headlands, some forest sections and rocky outcrops, brings the runners deep in to the heart of this spectacular, and relatively untouched region.
As always, this Wildrun® Africa experience is about so much more than running from point A to B. There is so much to take in along the way.
A unique and much loved quirk of the Transkei is the frequent sightings of cows on the beaches. Even though the beaches have no grass or drinking water, herds of cattle are seen napping chilling or chewing the cud on the pristine white sandy sections. These cattle are mostly Nguni. South Africa's indigenous Nguni cattle, long the mainstay of traditional Zulu culture, are possibly the most beautiful cattle in the world with their variously patterned and multi-coloured hides. A combination of cattle and local fishermen will be as close as you’ll come to cheerleaders on the route.
In the daily race briefings, runners are told to keep the ocean on their right hand side. Indeed, the ocean is an ever-present guide along the route, bringing its own sights and sounds with regular whale sightings, dolphin pods and marine birds a plenty. The Wild Coast and its Indian Ocean bounty has long been a favourite with anglers, and there are few places along the coast that don't have fishermen's cottages scattered about. In the days before quotas, catch-and-release and subsistence fishing, it was not uncommon to catch up to 40 fish in one day. Mazeppa Bay is known for its hammerhead sharks that come to feed on garrick, kob and shad. Kei Mouth, Umngazi Mouth, Hole in the Wall and Coffee Bay are also popular with fishermen. Other fine fish caught along the Wild Coast include: galjoen, bronze bream, queenfish, mackerel and musselcracker.
Each day brings something new, and runners will find themselves transported from the black rocks of the coast to jungle-like forests in a matter of moments. The vegetation is lush at the coast, with dune forests giving way to dense forests on the mountain slopes. These forests, in turn, become grassland at higher altitudes. The forests of the Wildcoast have been described as the most unique type of forest in Africa. They support an endemic family, Rhychocalycaceae, and many other species. The forests support many species of flowers. Clivias, agapanthus, amaryllis and the Port St Johns Lily (Crinum ssp.) all occur here naturally. In deeper, damper areas, many species of Haemanthus (Blood Lilies and Snake Flowers) and Streptocarpus are found.
From its people, to its unforgettable beaches, waterfalls and famous landmarks, the Transkei Wild Coast offers a wealth of things to see and experience. Running 112km of this coastline is a true privilege, and an opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich and wonderful landscape full of surprises.
Should you wish to join us for the special 10th anniversary year please email Tamaryn via email@example.com
Words: Kim Stephens