Hiking and Trail-Running
When based at Protea Ridge you are in the centre of Wild Coast hiking heaven and could easily spend a week here and hike every day without crossing the same route twice, then return each evening or afternoon or lunchtime, back to your warm comfortable bed and the other luxuries that Protea Ridge offers. One can walk alone or use the services of one of the local community guides.
These are some of the hikes on offer, using Protea Ridge as a start and finish point.
- Mkambati Route
- Mbaxene Falls / Cascades and Khotso Home Route
- Protea Ridge to Port Grosvenor Wrecksite
- Vulture Colony Route
- The River Route
- The Msikaba Mouth Route
- The Village Route
- The Sabbatical Route
Like those that like hiking, if you’re a mountain biker you will find yourself in mountain biking heaven! There are too many routes to mention, but a quick scan of this stretch of coastline on Google Earth will show you what awaits and allow the avid cyclist to prepare some really adventurous routes and trails.
A highlight for us here at Protea Ridge in the past, has been hosting to cyclists from Ballito, mostly ex Michaelhouse boys and their wives and girlfriends, who do a find-raising ride in aid of the Rhino foundation and use Protea Ridge as a base for night one of their adventure.
In the future we hope to work closely with mountain biking groups and community members to map some trails for these popular sportsmen and women and in turn encourage much needed community based tourism with some of the local young riders from our community.
Cutwini to Waterfall Bluff
Magwa Tea Plantations
Mboytji River and Mouth
Mkambathi Nature Reserve
Day Trips - Further Afield
Further Afield Hikes and day trips can easily be arranged to the Cutwini, Lupatana and Mboytji areas.
These would include a landcruiser dropping one off at Cutwini Village(between Mboytji and Lupatana) with your day pack. Here you would link with a guide from Cutwini and walk along the cliff section of this remarkable piece of coastline, passing through uninhabited hills and valleys. Cathedral Rock, Mfihlelo Falls and Waterfall Bluff and the incredible steams, valleys and flatlands you walk through and over, will blow you away! From Waterfall Bluff and it’s mesmerizing drop over the rock-shelf directly into the ocean it’s on for the final few KM’s to Lupatana, where the shuttle that dropped you off at Cutwini will collect you, for the trip back to Msikaba and Protea Ridge. This will be a day you never forget.
An extended version of this trip can be a night spent in a Cutwini Village “homestay”, either the night before the hike or at the end of it. This is a recommended cultural experience.
Protea Ridge has several double and single kayaks for using on the tidal Maikaba River. A paddle up this river with its sheer cliffs towering above and dropping into to this deep river (one of the Wild Coasts deepest) will leave one feeling rejuvenated and “alive”! The northern bank, on the Mkhambati side of the river is home to the extremely rare dwarf coconuts growing in the small palm grove in a secluded bay.
These incredible palms only found here on the Msikaba Riber and on the northern bank of the Mtentu River 10 km to the north. Paddle up to the ebb and flow where one is surely able to see vultures soaring high above at the Msikaba Vulture colony. We encourage using a capable guide from the local community for this activity and life-jackets are compulsory.
Anyone fishing on the South African coastline has to be in possession of a valid fishing license. The same applies to the Wild Coast.
The owners and management at Protea Ridge are avid fishermen. Whilst we do love eating a bit of fish we also strictly encourage “catch and release”. If you do catch one and keep it for the pot, please gut and clean your catch at the sea and not back at the Homestay.
There are many fishing spots along this coastline and a local guide or “ghilly” is always advised. Please chat with management to arrange a guide should you need.
Limited bait is available at Lusikisiki, an hours drive away so bring plenty, and please remember to take your litter away when done. Litter bugs will not be tolerated at Protea Ridge.
This is a clean and pristine piece of South African coastline. Let’s help keep it that way.
Stow it ………. don’t throw it!
Photography and Bird Life
A mission at Protea Ridge has been the planting of as many indigenous trees as possible. In the space of ten years the property has been transformed from a barren rocky hilltop, ravaged by annual burning and runaway fires every year, to a bird enthusiasts dream. Resident pairs of Gurneys Sugarbird, Mocking Cliff chats, Rock Thrushes, Robins and a variety of Sunbirds have chosen the premises as home. The “birdsong” here is extraordinary and something to behold when the conditions are good.
Situated on the edge of the escarpment, it’s not uncommon to have dozens of Cape Vultures gliding silently, directly over Protea Ridge on their way home to the Msikaba Gorge and their roost, just two more turns away. Counting upwards of 60 birds looking for thermals close by is possible. It is said that the Msikaba Colony adjacent to Protea Ridge is home to over 200 breading pairs of these beautiful and increasingly rare big birds.
A regular sighting from the premises at Protea Ridge are Ground Hornbills which sometimes land in the cliffs in the bottom Gardens. It’s not uncommon to sit on the verandah and watch up to 7 or 8 strutting past in the long grass, scuttling every now and then a bit faster as a frog or lizard escape and evades their long lethal beak. These huge black birds with their red gizzards are known to take on snakes too. Sadly, this once common site all over the Wild Coast is now not seen as often as these remarkable birds become more and more rare.
Around every corner is yet another amazing photographic opportunity and photography here is a must.
The Pondo Culture is, like so many cultures the world over, a threatened and endangered one too. The once common site of ladies collecting mussels and shell-fish and bright buckets, wearing all their traditional beads, bangles and bracelets has given way to young men and women collecting in traditional Western clothing, baggies and sacks. The beautiful round, thatch roof huts once incredibly common are too becoming less and less common as traditions change and small, cement and breeze block “flats” with flat zinc roofs take over. The once common home made wire cars with their clever little shoe polish tins used for wheels also a less and less common toy seen being played with alongside the dusty roads. In the older days, a common old clay beer pot being passed around the inside of a round hut has given way to a saved 5 Litre plastic paint bucket as traditions inevitably are replaced. Slowly but surely, the landscape changes too, as electricity poles feed their way over horizons giving communities much needed power and electricity. Life is improving too, make no mistakes! Regardless though, of the 21st Century slowly but surely reaching this remote and isolated enclave of Pondoland, being here however still somehow transports one back in time to another place, long forgotten. Cattle roam the coastal sands, kids play soccer on remote beaches and Strelitzia- palm lined lagoons free of life guards and life somehow carries on at a different pace when one is lucky enough to spend time among this remarkable and friendly community.
When one enters Emampondweni for the first time you feel and know, you are entering somewhere new, that this is different. Tribal dress, music, food, language, colors and patterns of paint on houses are suddenly different. This is an area where white and black people have been co-existing for decades, even centuries together and in recent times the Apartheid laws of previous Governments never reached these hills and valleys, forcing people apart based on the color of their skins.
This is a place where ancestors are worshiped, traditions kept and marriage labola still paid in cattle for your bride. Old school farming implements and cattle still plough lands and carry water and building materials and iSixhosa is still the main language. Here stick fighting is still practiced and horses are actively ridden, for sport and a means of getting from point A to point B. Do not be surprised to see several young kids barefoot and bareback, galloping past as they happily head past in the dusty and dry winter grasslands!
Here, traditional healers are actively consulted and a part of daily lives and traditional medicines, harvested from local forests and ravines used to treat various ailments as they have been for centuries. Here at Protea Ridge we recognize and promote these ancient, traditional and perhaps simple ways of life and make an effort to recognize and promote this unique, sometimes flamboyant culture, in the hope that this very culture can help unlock (and preserve) the potential this area has to Tourism in the future. In this way communities can be involved in saving this unique land from zealous and unplanned over-development. A land where it’s People have a say and where an important “value” is placed on their culture. This is so important.
With prior arrangement, Cultural evenings around the fire at Protea Ridge, can give one just a taste and a slice of this way of life in evenings of song, drum and dance.
This is Pondoland. This is Emampondweni. This is unique. This is us.