Terminal Drop-Off Charge

A £5 charge now applies to vehicles dropping off passengers at the designated drop-off zones, located directly outside the terminals. Discounts and exemptions will apply. Free drop-off will be available at the Long Stay car parks.

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Face coverings remain mandatory at Heathrow

Face coverings are mandatory at the airport and we encourage everyone to wear one at all times, unless they’re exempt. Passengers can purchase face coverings at several retailers at the airport including Boots and WHSmith. 

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  • Overview

    Located in the Eastern Cape, this former Bantustan was once officially called the Transkei. Many South Africans still know it by that name. Historically speaking, a Bantustan was set aside exclusively for a black ethnic group during apartheid. Ostensibly, it was to be governed independently by its population.

    The region has a tumultuous and sad political history and remains a mostly rural area. Poverty is still rife. However, it is an area of spectacular natural beauty that is popular with adventurous travellers looking for an experience of unspoilt landscapes and authentic rural culture.

    The main attraction is the Wild Coast, which, as the name suggests, is remarkably undeveloped. It has near pristine stretches of coastline where rolling hills, grassland, and forest grow right onto the beach.

    Accommodation tends to be rustic, with the most famous venues being isolated camping and backpacking communities. This makes the Transkei an ideal South African destination for young budget travellers and backpackers. It is also a wonderful surfing destination, with some gorgeous surf breaks that are never crowded and often kept secret. Travellers must watch out for sharks, though.

    East London is a good starting point for a journey into the Transkei. There are a few tour operators offering bus services through the region, but apart from this, the only way to get around is by hiring a car and road tripping.

    Travellers should bear in mind that although this is a wonderful way to explore, the infrastructure is awful and the roads can be really challenging, with animals such as cows, donkeys, and dogs crossing the streets, huge potholes, and virtually no signposts. For confident drivers, this is all part of the adventure. But travellers shouldn't expect to get anywhere fast in the Transkei.

    Coffee Bay

    Coffee Bay is a small inlet in the heart of the Wild Coast. Situated near Mthatha and with only a post office, a grocery store and a few B&Bs and backpackers to its name, the destination largely appeals to students and the young at heart. Its nightlife consists of drumming circles and the occasional trance party. However, Coffee Bay has some of the best surfing in South Africa, along with swimming, spear fishing and scuba diving. All visitors should definitely stop at the iconic Hole in the Wall: a site where the sea has carved a giant tunnel through a rock.

    Coffee Bay, South Africa Coffee Bay, South Africa Jacques
    Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve

    The beautiful Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve is a great place to stay in the Transkei. Encompassing five distinct biomes and a tidal estuary along the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast, the private, luxury reserve provides access to diverse coastal landscapes and some magnificent beaches. The reserve is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) and numerous other animals. However, the main attraction from a wildlife point of view is the presence of some extremely rare white lions. Inkwenkwezi is a Xhosa word meaning 'under the stars' and the reserve prides itself on good service and attention to detail as well as natural beauty.

    Zebra grazing in Cwebe Zebra grazing in Cwebe garethphoto
    Port St Johns

    Port St Johns is a good travel base in the Transkei region, and is the central tourism hub on the Wild Coast. The destination has lovely beaches, great surfing opportunities, fantastic fishing, and some fun and atmospheric backpackers lodges for budget travellers. A town of about 7,000 people, Port St Johns is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. The estuary is one of the main reasons why this stretch of coast is so picturesque. Sadly, it's also a contributing factor to the frequency of shark attacks on the town's beaches, making swimming and surfing a bit nerve-racking despite the idyllic conditions.

    Port St Johns beach Port St Johns beach garethphoto

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    English Pronounciation

    The Transkei contains some truly beautiful scenery in its interior but is best known for the Wild Coast, where most of the popular travel destinations can be found. Highlights include Coffee Bay, a quaint little community close to the natural wonder of the Hole in the Wall, and Mdumbi, a camping and backpacking haven on the hill above a beautiful bay.

    Port St Johns is a laid-back town generally considered the tourist hub of the shoreline while The Kraal Backpackers, near Mpande, is a self-sustaining and wildly popular backpacking community along a pristine stretch of coast.

    There is plenty of upmarket accommodation to be found along the Wild Coast. Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve is a good option for those wanting a touch of luxury on a holiday in the rural Eastern Cape. However, the region is most loved by budget travellers who enjoy backpackers and camping.

    The Wild Coast is a dream for outdoor adventurers in search of fun activities, with a wealth of kayaking, hiking, fishing, and surfing opportunities. There are also plenty of opportunites to trek to waterfalls and dramatic viewpoints.

    Many visitors to the Transkei also choose to take a tour of a traditional Xhosa community, where they can eat the local cuisine, chat to the people, and learn about their culture and lifestyle. Lodges and backpackers usually offer tours of this kind and some of them include the opportunity to spend the night in the community.


    No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination