We weren’t 30 minutes out of Virginia Airport, flying a few thousand feet above the coast, before the Wild Coast rolled into view. Gone was the industrial sprawl of Durban, and the Gatsby-esque seaside mansions of the south coast. No more manicured golf estates. Even the seafront railway line, built in the late 1800s to serve the sugar mills, had petered out by the time we reached the Mtamvuna River.

Here the landscape changed, unfurling into sinuous estuaries and wide-open grasslands peppered with small villages. Another 20km down the coast, past the Mtentu River mouth, the pilot dipped one wing of the Cessna Grand Caravan and bumped us down onto the grass landing strip in the Mkambati Nature Reserve. Welcome to GweGwe Beach Lodge...

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