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Mpondoland, or emaMpondweni, is commonly refered to as Pondoland. It is a coastal region and Kingdom of the Eastern Cape which stretches from the Mthatha River, near Coffee Bay, to the Mtamvuna River (the province’s border with Kwa-Zulu Natal) and extends roughly 50km inland. It has been inhabited by the amaMpondo for centuries and features significantly in the history of South Africa. As one of 12 Xhosa speaking tribes the amaMpondo proudly celebrate and maintain their own unique culture, traditions and heritage which is intimately connected with what has become known as the Wild Coast.

The rough seas, rocky coastline and violent storms which are experienced here have given rise to the name Wild Coast. This area is full of recorded shipwrecks as far back as1552, with mainly Portuguese, Dutch and English vessels coming to ground.  The survivor's stories tell tales of epic journeys on foot to Mozambique and Cape Town over many months. Survivors often decided to stay put, weaving fascinating stories of European integration with Xhosa ancestry into the fabric of Mpondoland. The Wild Coast is also home to the Pondoland Centre for Endemism, a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot that includes an incredibly rich variety of endemic plant species. The Pondo Palm, for example, is only found on the north bank of 2 specific rivers in Mpondoland.  All of this in a landscape filled with numerous waterfalls that cascade into the ocean, deep river gorges stretching for miles inland and rolling grassy plains where the Mpondo people live a subsistence life sustained by the environment.  You can learn about all of this and more when you visit Mpondoland and engage with the people who call it home.

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Our Story

Stephen Hoffe and Siyabonga Ndovela, two of the founding members of the Pondo Experience, met whilst directing education and community development projects in Mpondoland in 2013.  

Since then the pair have hosted countless volunteers, tourists and students through a variety of projects where they share the magic of Mpondoland. The Pondo Experience is aimed at improving sustainable, locally driven eco-tourism along the Wild Coast as an alternative to mining, an ongoing struggle in Xolobeni, which threatens the livelihoods of many subsistence farming communities. 

All accommodation, food, guiding and transport is sourced locally to support development of the amaMpondo’s own eco-tourism industry.  Today this network of hosted trails extends for hundreds of kilometers along the Wild Coast.

In February 2021 the team was joined by William Relton, an over-landing guide with nearly a decade of experience in southern Africa and South America. Along with training new guides and establishing new trails, William’s spirit of adventure adds exciting new elements to the Pondo Experience!

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