Wild Coast to KZN

photo of port st johns umzimvubu river

Port St Johns on the Umzimvubu River

Leaving Mazeppa we took N2 National Road as far as Umtata, then veered back towards the coast and Port St Johns. This scanic route winds it’s way through the rural part of the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, along some really poor roads. It’s worth it though, this is maginificent landscape – anyone with a suitable vehicle and the time really should travel this region.

Off the Beaten Wild Coast Track

wild coast road mapUmtata to Port St Johns is around 90km. This section of the route has improved somewhat in the last 20 years; previously the heavily rutted gravel road turned into a mud slide during rain, and winding as it does through sheer sided mountain passes could be a testing experience for drivers – who always have to be extra alert for farm livestock anywhere in this part of the Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns, a small town at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River became known in the 1970’s as the home of a local radio station Capital Radio broadcasting on 604 AM, and a haven for artists and even a few aging hippies.

This was the peak of the towns development, since then it has degraded to a pleasant destination for those willing to rough it.

Before leaving Mazeppa we had discussed our next stopover destination; Coffee Bay, Hole in the Wall, Pt St Johns, or head further North into KZN. We decided that as our intention was to fish the North Coast of KZN, we should leave the Wild Coast and get on with the journey.

So no stopover (this time) at any of these spots. After Port St Johns we headed inland again to Lusikisiki, then Flagstaff, Bizana and finally Port Edward, the southernmost coastal town in KZN, where we stopped for an hour for a break from driving.

I was surprised to find it was not yet midday, so another discussion took place: Should we try to get through to the North Coast, or overnight somewhere before in the South? As eager as we were to get to our destination, and start fishing, logic prevailed – we needed supplies – tackle and bait especially, and the best place to stock up would be Durban. So it was an overnight stop.

There were still many hours of daylight left, so off we went. Back on the N2 after Port Shepstone, Jen looking through maps and resort guidebooks to decide where to make the stop. With a shortlist of camping grounds, we decided on the Scottburgh area – an hour or so South of Durban.

Time to Re-supply Bait and Tackle

While planning the expedition, I had got advice from other fisherman familiar with KZN, especially about where to get the most important supplies – bait and tackle, and three places had been mentioned, The Kingfisher and Basil Mannings in Durban, and a small tackle shop in Kingsburgh, 40km south of Durban where I was informed fresh redeye sardines and mackerel as well as other top quality bait could be purchased.

A quick inventory before leaving Mazeppa revealed we were fast running out of bait. The last yellowtail had been used, and our supply of sardines was down to a single 1kg box. Even the squid was being used up faster than anticipated. From advice given I knew we could not rely on shops in Zululand to have much in the way of bait or tackle, and told we should stock up well on anything except the basics. The portable freezer that had seemed so adequate before suddenly looked very small. But we knew we could hire freezers at the camp grounds up north, so just needed to make plans to get the supplies there in good condition…

Follow our journey north and our stock-up on the way to Zululand in my next post.

Ray the Fisherman


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