This is one of the most stunning places I have been to and lies in an almost spoilt region in the northern part of the Eastern Cape at the mouth of the Mpako River. If you are looking for tranquillity, great hikes and lazing in the sun on the beach, this is the place to go.Asking a local tour guide, a young man of about 20, what the old people say formed the Hole-in-the-wall he said “They say there was something like a tsunami in the river and a lot of things were brought down by this and made the mountain disappear so it could get to the sea.” :)
Another legend says it refers to a young maiden who fell in love with one of the mythical ‘sea people’. Such was the love of this sea person for the maiden that he and his people rammed a hole in the side of a lagoon wall with the help of a huge fish so they could reach her; she was never heard from again.
The whole region is one of high hills with forests in the ravines with the Umdoni tree forming a large part of the vegetation. This tree has very edible berries and the local people love to eat them.
You can spend the whole day (or three) walking along the fantastic coastline. Everywhere you turn, the vista is spectacular.
The Hole-in-the-Wall is an archway carved out of the sandstone by wave action. The tour guide tells me that you can walk almost up to the cave during low tide and at high tide on clam days, people swim out and climb to the top of the rocks and jump into the sea – an activity NOT recommended as people have lost their lives doing this.
In one area a deep cliff has been cut into the rocks and with the waves hitting the walls, make a spectacular scene for photography.
The beaches are safe for swimming so bring lots of suntan lotion if visiting in summer. The weather in the region is fairly mild in winter so can be visited then too.
Having extolled the beauty of the place, I must add that this is not an easy place to get to for anyone, let alone overseas tourists
Going south about 40km from Umtata, there is a turnoff to Coffee Bay. Although the first 70km is tarred, it takes at least 2 hours to get there as the road is very twisty and your average speed is slow. Besides this, there are no fences in that area so the roads are filled with goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, horses and donkeys which you have to watch out for. The last 10km to Coffee Bay is gravel and besides some road works going on there, not bad. From the Bay, it is another 9km to the Hole-in-the-wall and this is a very bad stretch. An ordinary car will struggle with the uphills on this unpaved road as there are at times large rocks and fissures which is impossible to get through unless you have a 4x4. Once there though, one’s jaw drops at the sheer beauty of it all.
There are a few places to stay at: 2 backpackers, a small resort with hotel and a B&B, some places catered and others accommodation only so they cater for all budgets. Prices are reasonable at all of these. The hotel has a small shop where one can buy the odd refreshment and a shop of sort selling necessary items such as coffee, sugar, bread etc but one must take your own food if not being catered for at your accommodation.