Matt Botha. SA. Wild Coast. Fishing In sea.

Interview with... Matt Bothe, Momentum’s man on the Wild Coast, South Africa

“I grew up inspired by this place. Wanting to show people the beauty of the wild. I’ve had the privilege of travelling all over the world but I’ve always come back here.”

Why the Wild Coast?

This has always been a wild place. 65km of untouched coastline that spans immense waterfalls, pristine beaches and rugged cliffs lined with milkwood trees.

My connections here were laid down before I was born, by a man called Charlie Herring. He was my grandfather’s best friend. And he had an obsession with building a cottage here. He and my grandfather spent months coming down to complete this shack. Charlie couldn’t afford to pay him. Instead he gave our family unlimited access to the property. He could never have known the impact this offer would have.

For my parents, who were school teachers and unable to afford holidays, this was an inexpensive holiday for our young family. For us, it was weeks of complete heaven. The most wonderful adventure playground.

What’s it like to spend time here?

The trail we take starts inland, on an uninhabited nature reserve which used to be a leper colony. Because the water spawns and mouths inside the area, the water has no human contact so it’s crystal clear and pure. This feeds into waterfalls that disappear into deep ravines.

The best way to reach the sea is to kayak. You can just paddle and drift all day as the water meanders. Along the waterways are hundreds of plant species that are endemic to the Wild Coast. It’s a recognised global diversity hotspot - and you’ll have it all to yourself.

When you get to the coast, the entertainment is exploring beaches and cliffs, hunting for oysters in the rocks and diving for crayfish. Then we cook it all up in huge bonfires on the beach. Followed by a night sleeping under the stars.

How important is the local culture?

The only other people you’ll see here are the Pondo - the indigenous people of the Wild Coast. There is no way I could operate in this area without their approval. This land belongs to them and I hope it always will do.

They are the kindest, most genuine people I have ever encountered. People might view them as poor because they don’t have money in their pockets. It’s their integrity that loyalty that makes them wealthy. And I challenge you to find anywhere else in the world with happier smiles.

What does the outdoors mean to you?

Simplicity. It’s a digital detox. The chance to relax, refresh and work out what it truly important in life. When I bring people here, the first few days they feel uncomfortable with being out of touch. By day four, it’s as if a spring has been unwound. And they never want to leave.

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