Budget travel made easy. Tips for your next adventure to Mdumbi – South Africa’s hidden coastal gem
MDUMBI, SOUTH AFRICA. Once you venture away from the big cities and past the Garden Route in South Africa, you’ll most likely find yourself road tripping up or down the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast in itself is like nothing else. The route stretches from East London in the Eastern Cape province to Kwazulu-Natal in the north and it is divine.
Go a bit further into the Transkei area and somewhere off the beaten track you’ll find Mdumbi. With dirt roads, beehive huts, cattle and goats walking freely, rolling hills and pristine beaches, you’ll feel like you’re in another world than that of Cape Town or Joburg. It has all of the activities one can dream of. Surfing, hiking, kayaking, fishing, dolphin watching, you name it. You can go from waves to hills in the same morning, and still have time for some afternoon magic.
Currency: South African Rand 1 usd = 13.48 ZAR
Visa: free for most countries for 90 days. Others for 30 days. Beauty. Check here to make sure you’re on the list.
First and foremost, I will recommend getting the Coast to Coast book, which you’ll find for free in 99% of backpackers. It has everything and anything you need to know about backpacking South Africa. It is extremely useful since not everything in SA is put onto the world wide web just yet and you won’t always have access to internet. You can also use the website beforehand, but it does not have nearly as much info as the book. I hate the Lonely Planet for personal reasons, and was reluctant to use this but it saved my ass countless times. Put your ego aside and use the damn thing.
Next, get a local sim card. This is so necessary in SA, especially if you’re travelling off the beaten track. Backpackers are oftentimes marked unavailable online but are actually completely free. Give them a call to book, they can also help you with directions if you’re stuck. You can get one of these once you hop off the plane at the airport, at most convenience stores and grocery stores. I used MTN.
You can drive down here if you have a car but as mentioned in my previous post, I did not have that privilege. Mdumbi Backpackers, my hostel in Mdumbi, arranged a shuttle from point A to point B, which was awesome but can also get complicated depending on where you are starting from. On the Wild Coast, most backpackers offer some sort of pick up or can help you out with that. Make sure to ask them.
Taking shuttles can get long, costly and tiring, so I would recommend doing long stays if possible. My stay in Mdumbi was 3 days and I felt it was not enough!
As noted by Madeleine, manager at Mdumbi Backpackers, there is also the option of taking local minibus taxis – this can be tricky if you have a lot of luggage, but really convenient (and cheap) when travelling light.
Walk = free. It’s a village, unless you want to get pulled by a donkey you will be on your feet.
Looking for something else?
I stayed at Mdumbi Backpackers, easily one of my favourite hostels. Most rooms are small rondavels with stable styled doors, and I don’t know about you but that is a key selling point for me. Mine was a 3-bunker, which I had to myself, while they also have 4-bunkers and larger dorms all going for 150 R (the equivalent of $11.50), in addition to privates. Volunteering is popular at the hostel as well, so if you are looking for a free bed then that might be of interest to you.
The beauty of this spot is that its located on a peninsula on the top of a hill, so if you walk a hundred meters to the edge you’ll get a 180 degree view of endless blueness. Sur-real.
There is also this mysterious yet magical outdoor bathtub that my friend and I heard about but both never found?! Is this real life? Please, somebody pinch me.
Try out the family dinner at the backpackers, which offers both vegetarian and meateater options for about 70 R. I did vegetarian, and it was delicious and well worth it. They also have meals and food served all day. You can always pick up ingredients at one of the local shops to make your own meals. I will warn you that they are very small and don’t have much of a selection. That said, bread, eggs, veggies, fruits – they have, and will cost you a few dollars at most. Sometimes you gotta do with what you got.
My hostel Coffee Shack (also super dope) in Coffee Bay organized my lift with Mdumbi Backpackers to Mdumbi. If you are in Mthatha or heading to Mthatha (the nearest city to Mdumbi) you can take a shuttle to Coffee Bay to get picked up.
Shuttle to Coffee Bay from Mthatha: 90 R
Shuttle to Mdumbi from Coffee Bay: 60 R
Total: 150 R = $11.50
Dorm bed: $15 (all year long – booyah)
Food: let’s say $10 ($4 for family dinner + $6 for homemade meals)
With the essentials covered at $25 day, you’ll still have all kinds of money to splurge on surfboard rentals or classes, tours and any other goodies that come your way. The question now is: What are you waiting for?
Want to stay at Mdumbi Backpackers? Contact them here!
All photos from Mdumbi provided by Mdumbi Backpackers