The Eastern Cape is under-sold as a tourist destination, but to those who venture to discover, it is an exhilarating experience for visitors from the bustling port cities of Port Elizabeth and East London with the blue flag beaches such as Kings Beach, to the rural tranquility of the Transkei. Despite the cosmopolitan feeling in some of the urban centres, there is the option of enjoying various African experiences, be it ethnic cultural, adventure or solitude. All within easy reach.
The second largest of South Africa’s nine provinces, the diverse Eastern Cape landscape ranges from the dry desolate Great Karoo to the sub-tropical forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley. It is a province with unmatched bio-diversity. The shoreline of this province extends from the Umtamvuna River in KwaZulu-Natal, to the Storms River mouth on the scenic Garden Route. There are fabulous beaches on the Sunshine Coast and the Wildcoast. Surfing and wind surfing are popular activities along this coast. Accommodation will suite every budget, including self-catering, backpackers and hotels with luxury Safari Lodges also as an option.
The province was established in 1994, formed out of areas of the Cape Province and the former Xhosa homelands of the Ciskei and Transkei. The Eastern Cape is the birth place of former president Nelson Mandela and is still the traditional home of the Xhosa people.
Often overlooked by travellers in search of glitz and glamour, Port Elizabeth is probably South Africa's best-kept secret.As a tourist destination it offers fantastic weather and an enormous range of attractions make it a great place for a totally relaxing stay.
The beaches range from crowded, social and developed to long and deserted. Lovely old buildings reflect PE's past as an integral part of the development of the Eastern Cape and South Africa, and a host of cultural activities will offer you an insight into the lives of other people.
The city formed around the only river port in South Africa, and was originally known as Port Rex. This settlement on the West Bank was the nucleus of the town of East London, which was later elevated to city status in 1914. There are miles of unspoilt beaches where swimming, sailing, water-skiing, boardsailing and boating are enjoyed all year round. River mouths, lagoons and gullies provide a paradise for fishermen.
The landscape is extremely diverse. The western interior is largely arid Karoo, while the east is well-watered and green. The Eastern Cape offers a wide array of tourist attractions, including 800 km of untouched and pristine coastline along with some particularly splendid beaches, and "big-five" viewing in a malaria-free environment. The available range accommodation are Bed and breakfasts, safari lodges, hotels and self catering suites which are plentiful.
The Addo Elephant National Park, situated 73 km from Port Elizabeth, was proclaimed in 1931. Its 743 km˛ offers sanctuary to 170 elephants, the last Cape buffalo and 21 black rhino of the very scarce Kenyan sub-species.
The province is the location of South Africa's only ski resort, Tiffindell, which is situated near the hamlet of Rhodes in the Southern Drakensberg on the slopes of the highest mountain peak, Ben McDuie (3001 m).
The National Arts Festival, held in Grahamstown is Africa's largest and most colourful cultural event, offering a choice of the very best of both indigenous and imported talent. Every year for 11 days the town's population almost doubles, as over 50,000 people flock to the region for a feast of arts, crafts and sheer entertainment.
Yaughts on East London's river port.
Tiffendel Ski Resort
Hole in the wall on Wild Coast
Eastern Cape landscape
The Tsitsikamma National Park is an 80 km long coastal strip between Nature's Valley and the mouth of the Storms River. In the park the visitor finds an almost untouched natural landscape. Near the park is the Bloukrans Bridge, which is the world's highest bungee jump.
Jeffreys Bay is an area with some of the country's wildest coastline, which is backed by some of Africa's most spectacular sub-tropical rain forest. Famous for its "supertubes", probably South Africa's longest and most consistently good wave, it's charged with a surf vibe as relaxed as it is friendly, and this tends to soften the effect of the wealthy set who have made this part of the coast their own.
Amathole Mountain Escape.
Amathole Region - stretching from Stutterheim in the west to Adelaide in the east - offers a world-class hiking,bird-watching, mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking and other adventure sports.
Abundant wildlife in the area also provides the ideal opportunity for game viewing, camping, some of the best 4x4 trails and visits to cultural villages.
The Wild Coast is rugged and unspoilt, a place of spectacular scenery, and a graveyard for many vessels since the first voyages of exploration sailed from Portugal in their attempts to navigate a new route to the far east. Protected for years by limited road access, this area offers a combination of rural tranquillity, traditional African lifestyles and architecture. . Seafood is plentiful and this coast is a fisherman's paradise all year but during July in particular when schools of game fish and Dolphins pursue the shoals of Sardines along the coast during the seasonal "Sardine Run."
A beach in Port Elizabeth
Molweni Private Reserve.
game viewing and horse trail safaris, hiking, mountain biking, photographic and birding excursions, creative holidays involving painting and writing courses and the “Original Nguni Cattle Roundup”
The Mountain Zebra National Park, near Cradock, is a lovely park where this unique species may be seen.The Karoo makes for easy animal spotting in shrub vegetation.
Graaf Reinet. A heritage centre in the Karoo Heartland, with much to offer in Cape Dutch architecture, monuments and historical tours. For outdoor enthusiasts, 4x4 Trails, paragliding, hiking trails, bird-watching, game viewing in private game reserves are a draw.
Graaf Reinet Official site:
Copyright: African-Experiences 2007.
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Dung Beetle House
Kinmel Guest Farm
Avoca River Cabins
Drifters Wild Coast Inn
Amakhala Safari Lodge
Eastern Cape Province - Tourist Destinations