Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Eastern Cape
Monday, 18th November 2013
The Eastern Cape Province along South Africa’s south eastern coast is one of the country’s most undiscovered tourist locations – and I believe one of the most under-rated, too. Apart from the breathtaking natural beauty of the Eastern Cape – rugged cliffs, rough seas, dense green bush, and uncrowded beaches – the province has much to offer adventurous travellers, often at very affordable rates.
Its long stretches of unspoilt sandy beaches, rocky coves, secluded lagoons and towering cliffs are some of the Eastern Cape’s most precious gems. The province’s diverse landscapes – from the dry and desolate Great Karoo to the lush forests of the Wild Coast and the mountainous Drakensberg region – make the Eastern Cape a must-do on any traveller’s bucket list.
#5 Relax on your holiday in a malaria-free zone
The entire Eastern Cape province is a malaria-free zone, nearly 170 000km² and totalling 13,9% of South Africa. Whether you’re visiting for a safari adventure, or want to soak up the sun along the province’s vast coastline, the risk of a malaria infection will be the last thing on your mind. This makes the Eastern Cape Province particularly child-friendly.
#4 Take the scenic route along the N2
The N2 highway, starts with the scenic Garden Route in Mosselbay and crosses the length of the Eastern Cape province, is one of the most beautifully scenic routes to drive along in South Africa. Along this route you will find various landmarks, such as the ‘Big Tree’ just as you cross the border from the Western Cape, the breathtaking Tsitsikamma mountain range – along with Bloukrans Bridge, which is the highest bridge in Africa and at 216 meters also the highest bungee jump in the world. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa’s premier surfing destination, will also pop up along this route. As you head deeper into the Eastern Cape, the rolling hills of the Wild Coast spotted with traditional thatched huts will transport you into the heart of rural South Africa. If the journey feels too long, stay over for a night at the 5 star Hyatt Regency Oubaai in George or Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa in Kynsna before you head off on your travels. If you’re lucky, you might get to spot a school of dolphins or a whale surfing in the ocean. If you’re looking for a little beach adventure, but don’t feel like packing you hiking boots, Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay is an experience incomparable to any place you’ve stayed before.
#3 A history lesson
The Eastern Cape Province was established in 1994, after the first democratic election in South Africa. The province is most famous as the home of former South African president and Nobel Prize winner, Nelson Mandela. The area has a violent history of fighting for ownership of the land. Evident of these violent times can still be found in this area – there are several buildings still standing where the Afrikaners and English sheltered from fierce Xhosa onslaughts. Most old houses in the Eastern Cape have small windows and thick walls to protect against unexpected attacks.
For a cultural experience, the National Arts Festival is held annually in Grahamstown. This festival offers a wide range of entertainment – singing, dancing, and of course, art, and usually takes place near the end of June.
#2 The beautiful, unspoilt beaches of the Wild Coast
While Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the Eastern Cape‘s largest city Port Elizabeth, is known as the water sports capital of South Africa, it is the unspoilt beaches of the Wild Coast that is the most breathtaking. A 250km long stretch of coastline, the Wild Coast reaches from East London in the south, to the border of KwaZulu Natal province in the north. It is a gorgeous natural environment, with open grasslands and deep cut ravines that make for a beautiful landscape. Sweeping bays, footprint-free beaches and lazy lagoons separate mostly small rural villages along this coastline. The region is well-known for its hiking trails and, be warned, the frequent sightings of cows on the beaches!
#1 Step into the wild on a Big 5 safari
Contrary to popular belief, the big 5 do not roam exclusively in the Kruger National Park and surrounds in the northeastern corner of South Africa. The Eastern Cape province boasts excellent game reserves and big 5 sighting opportunities.
- Kwandwe Ecca Lodge near Grahamstown is blessed with breathtaking views over an Acacia Aloe and Spekboom-studded valley – and home to the Big 5.
- A private haven for a luxurious Big 5 safari can be found at Kichaka Game Lodge. With only 10 exclusive suites, this is pure private indulgence.
- Shamwari Private Game Reserve, which means “my friend” in Shona, is home to the Big 5 and offers a host of 5 star safari experiences.
- Bukela Game Lodge is situated in the Amakhala Game Reserve near Grahamstown and is secluded safari destination tucked away into indigenous trees and bushes at the top of a hidden valley.
So go on – discover the Eastern Cape. You will discover 5 star Africa.
Sources:http://www.southafrica.info; www.luxuryinsouthernafrica.com; http://www.buffalocity.gov.za; www.easterncape.com