Wandering the Wild Coast: 9-day African Coastal Journey

Wandering the Wild Coast: 9-day African Coastal Journey

This workshop offers our two very best, both passionate and thoroughly skilled photography instructors in our usual small group setting, thus ensuring that our guests get all the advantages of the prime locations and scenic photo opportunities, as well the intimate one-on-one guidance and tuition.

So this workshop is geared towards photographers who have a basic understanding of their equipment and who are keen to spend a bit more time on expanding their photographic knowledge and technique. Therefore there will be critique and feedback sessions post shoot, where the photographers can discuss images taken and gain some helpful and encouraging insights.  

That being said, beginner photographers should in no way feel intimidated. Our specific instructor to guest ratio is designed exactly for this purpose, with a maximum of 6 guests with 2 instructors providing ample opportunity for one-on-one instruction. There will be some ‘theory’ sessions, which are informal discussion style sessions where theory and technique will be aired before practice in the field (for e.g. panoramic stitching, long-exposure technique, filter usage, star-trails and night sky photography). 
This workshop fee will include all your meals, accommodation, drinks (within reason), park entrance fees, guide AND transport fees. Four wheel drive vehicles are how we will navigate this beautiful Wild Coast and the sometimes uneven roads. 

Key Information

  • Price €1560
  • Duration 6+ days
  • Group Size 5+

Highlights

  • The famous Hole In The Wall
  • The amazing Magwa Falls
  • Stars spinning over Port St. Johns from ‘The Gates’
  • Rural Africa in the Port St. Johns hinterlands
  • Wild Coast coastal scenery including 'beach bum cows'
  • Huge waves crashing against rocky cliffs under the dawn sky at Luphathana
  • The incredible Waterfall Bluff and/or Cathedral Rock

Itinerary

Part 1 - Hole in the Wall

Day 1

Leave Durban and arrive at the small hamlet of Hole in the Wall. Guests have the option to head out and start shooting on the beach/rocks in front of our accommodation, but you may just want to relax and enjoy the view and fresh ocean breeze. Due to the very limited nature of the accommodation on the Wild Coast, rooms are to be shared with fellow guests of the same sex. Single supplements can be requested at time of booking and we will check availability/surcharge, etc.

Day 2

5:30am start with tea and coffee. Then out onto the rocks in front of the Hole in the Wall village to shoot the dawn light. We return after sun up to have breakfast and a theory session on long exposure photography. 
A rest period before lunch for everyone and thereafter we reconvene for some guided image editing of the morning’s shoot. In the afternoon we head out to the Hole in the Wall viewpoint and beach to photograph this magnificent feature of the Wild Coast. A short half kilometre walk from the viewpoint parking to the beach below affords us easy access and is manageable for most photographers. If it is low tide we can even cross the river in order to create amazing images with the beautiful round pebbles in the foreground with the afternoon light spilling onto the Hole in the Wall massif itself. Afterwards we are off to our lodgings for dinner.

Day 3

5:00am is tea or coffee time after which our group can spilt up. Those feeling adventurous can tackle a strenuous climb to the incredible view from the top of the rocky bluff north of Hole in the Wall.  Those who prefer a more sedately shoot can opt for Ferdy’s Gully, a bouncy 20-minute drive from the Lodging. We reconvene for breakfast at around 8:30-9:00am.

The last part of the morning is again used for theory discussion (panoramic stitching and star-trail photography) before some rest/nap time. A late lunch at White Clay is where we will have a sit down at a restaurant overlooking the glorious pebble beach south of the idyllic Coffee Bay. As the light softens we make our way down to the pebble beach to play with long exposure images. 
As the light fades we head back to our accommodation to freshen up and head back out to the Hole in the Wall viewpoint to shoot the Milky Way and Star-trail images above the massif itself. Our finger supper will feed us while our cameras capture the night sky.

Part 2 - The Gates of Port St. Johns

Day 4

Day four begins with an optional dawn shoot for those eager to rise early. For those wanting to sleep in, it is a good time to snatch a few hours before we shoot off to Port St. Johns. A leisurely breakfast will precede the dirt road drive to our next destination, with stops along the way to capture the coast and the houses that dot the rollings hills beyond the cliffs.

Port St. Johns is considered by many as the gateway to the Wild Coast and is arguably the most important town in the region. Planted firmly at the mouth of the Mzimvubu River which itself flows through the massive mountain ramparts known as ‘The Gates’ (Mount Sullivan to the North and Mount Thesinger to the South). A late lunch after our arrival is at one of the distinctive Port St. Johns restaurants.

We will then explore the summit of Mount Thesinger for sundowners and some late afternoon/sunset photography. The site is also the Port St. Johns airport which boasts a commanding view of the Mzimvubu River as it reaches the Indian Ocean. The beautiful trees with their soulful bare branches make for excellent monochrome photography subjects. Another light finger supper will see us turning our camera’s to the ocean to shoot the Milky Way and Star-trails over the mouth of the river.

Day 5

A rest morning for everyone to catch up on sleep. After a good breakfast at our lodgings we spend the morning doing guided image editing and a feedback session. Weather dependant, we might shoot the rural Port St. Johns hinterland with its colorful African rondavels dotting the hills. After lunch we do a coastal shoot near Port St. Johns and at the end of a successful afternoon we return to our lodgings for dinner.

Part 3 - The Waves of Luphuthana

Day 6

We have an early start after tea/coffee at 5:00am for a dawn shoot back at Mount Thesinger. Then back for breakfast at around 8:00am. 
With the vehicles all packed up we join the long winding road to Lusikisiki and down to the rolling grasslands to the fisherman’s post at Luphuthana. The attraction here are the immense waves that crash against the rock shelf on the shoreline. The towering white pillars of spray smash against the rocks regularly, leading to some interesting photography opportunities. 
After dinner we have an early night as the next morning is another early rise.

Day 7

Another 5:00am rise with tea or coffee with rusks before we tackle the walk to the astounding Waterfall Bluff. This waterfall descends in a beautiful curve directly into the ocean, with a small cove sheltering this scene, which affords photographers amazing access to this beautiful landscape feature. We aim to be at the Bluff by sunrise so that we can capture the soft predawn light. The easy walk is approximately 40-50 minutes away (roughly 4 km from Luphuthana). 
After dawn, anyone wishing to continue to the dramatic and impressive Cathedral Rock may do so. This is approximately another hour’s trek to reach but way worth the effort.

After lunch we will spend the afternoon in some guided editing and another feedback session, followed by rest and dinner. At sunset we go back to the rock shelf to photograph the night sky superimposing dramatically flash-lit waves against the Milky Way.

Day 8

Our last early morning rise sees us head out to explore the exciting Magwa Falls and Fraser Falls after a 5:00am tea or coffee and rusks. Magwa Falls is an incredible, and often missed, waterfall that cascades 142 metres down into a narrow ravine. The unprotected edges might make one nervous, but viewing the Falls can be done safely. 
After the Falls we stop by the impressive Fraser Falls before heading back to Luphuthana for edits and a rest. 
Once we have had lunch, a quick regroup and short feedback session before we head out to the grasslands above Luphuthana. Abstract compositions with solitary trees or grazing cattle beneath an azure sky is the order of the day. 
At sunset we make our way back to camp for some evening rest by the fireside.

Day 9

The last morning: We will photograph the waves on the rock shelf in front of Luphuthana where the early light and (hopefully) clouds come together to create a fantastic purple backdrop to highlight the waves against. Being near the crashing roaring water is a great way to end this wonderful Wild Coast workshop. 
Once our breakfast is done and our gear and equipment is portered across the Luphuthana River, we will head back to Durban and home.

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