South Africa travel information accommodation guide
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 Eastern Cape Province
 
Eastern Cape Introduction
 
Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Nestled between two rivers, the Eastern Cape lies on the warm Eastern Coast of South Africa, offering fine weather all year round, enticing enthusiasts of the great outdoors. Explore the endless possibilities that the Eastern Cape has to offer, from the Big Five Safaris in unspoilt bushland, to the beauty and relaxation of a natural paradise. The Eastern Cape boasts an array of breathtaking unspoilt beaches, a haven for watersport enthusiasts, from surfing to fishing and sailing. Nature lovers will also enjoy the many hiking trails and forest adventures of South Africa's Wild Coast.

If back-to-nature is not your scene, take a trip to the Eastern Cape's city centres to explore shopping and other activities for all tastes, offering every amenity and entertainment to keep you busy. The capital city, Port Elizabeth, is known as the friendly city , and it's no surprise! The welcome you will receive from the locals will keep you coming back time and again.

 
Top Ten Attractions
 
Eastern Cape Beaches
The Eastern Cape is renowned for its unspoilt coastline, and with the many beaches on offer it is a nature and sports lover's paradise. Jeffery's Bay is a well-known surf spot and people travel from all over the world to enjoy the waves and sunshine. A quieter holiday is on offer at Kenton-on-Sea, with its pristine beachfront being voted South Africa's best in 2001. Enjoy deep-sea, river or beach-front fishing, spot whales, or for the lucky few, share the warm waters with the friendly dolphins – a once in a lifetime experience.
 
Addo Elephant National Park
Originally home to only 11 elephants, visitors can now get up close and personal with the park's 420 elephants, as well as rhinos, lions, buffalos, hyenas and leopards, and a variety of bird species. The park is also home to whales and the great white shark. A range of sight-seeing options are on offer, including 4x4 trails, horse-back riding or hiking.
 
Bayworld

One of the Eastern Cape's biggest attractions is Port Elizabeth's Bayworld, set on the beachfront, being a major venue for education and tourism. Bayworld offers a range of exhibits, including a museum, oceanarium, snake park and tropical house. See fully-rigged models of early sailing ships at the Maritime Hall or observe various species of fish in the underwater observation area. A prime attraction is the dolphin and seal shows, which take place twice daily.

 
The East London Aquarium
Although not the biggest aquarium in South Africa, the East London Aquarium boasts a range of unique features making it a must see on any itinerary. View migrating whales from the whale deck and pier, with blue flags indicating whale sightings. Visitors can watch the sharks in the tank built above the shoreline rocks or see the rehabilitation process of birds and fish injured by pollution or nets. A major attraction is the seals, with two shows being held daily.
 
The Maloti Route
Meander through this scenic route spanning the borders of South Africa and Lesotho, enjoying breathtaking mountain vistas and memorable experiences. The Maloti Route offers visitors the chance to experience a range of cultures, including the traditional Basotho villages, as well as English, Afrikaans and Xhosa lifestyles. Enjoy high quality arts and crafts, or step onto the ski-slopes, travel on horseback to visit rock art sites, or tackle a 4x4 trail. With plenty of accommodation on offer, the Maloti Route offers the ultimate adventure experience, a must for any Eastern Cape visitor.
 
Bird Watching

The Eastern Cape is haven for bird watchers – with 170 species in the Addo Elephant National Park alone. See spectacular birds such as the endangered Cape Parrot, the Secretary Bird and the Martial Eagle, or take a trip to Jeffrey's Bay to view a host of interesting species. Buffalo City is a prime spot for viewing exotic birds like the paradise flycatcher, trumpeter hornbill and the rare mangrove kingfisher. Bird-lovers should not miss this opportunity!

 
The Tsitsikamma Region
The Tsitsikamma region on the Garden Route is one of the most beautiful places to visit, offering high mountains, deep gorges and a rugged coastline - ideal for hiking. The Tsitsikamma Adventure Tour, starting in Port Elizabeth, offers an exploration into this beautiful world of indigenous flora, with the Tsitsikamma Forest being home to yellowwood trees over 800 years old – well worth a visit.
 
No 7 Castle Hill Museum
Take a step back in time at Port Elizabeth's No 7 Castle Hill Museum, considered one of the oldest Settler cottages in Port Elizabeth still standing. The homestead dates back to 1827, with yellowwood floors and beams, and a slate roof. The kitchen, dollhouse and lace displays reflect the history and elegant lifestyle that middle-class English families enjoyed in the mid nineteenth century.
 
Eastern Cape Shipwrecks
Strong winds and a sometime perilous coastline have made the Eastern Cape a virtual graveyard of sunken ships, now offering some of the best diving sites in the world. One of the most recent wrecks is that of the Oceanos, which sank off the Wild Coast in 1993, only 25 minutes after all 220 passengers and crew were lifted to safety. The Doddington is a much older wreck, lying at Bird Island 60 km southeast from Port Elizabeth. This vessel sank in 1755, sparing only 23 members of a 270 strong crew, who lived for 7 months on the island surviving off shrubs and small birds. The Doddington offers good visibility making it a prime dive site, and with the suggestion of buried treasure, worth a trip to the deep.
 
The Valley of Desolation
A short trip from 18 th century town of Graaff-Reinet lie the sheer cliffs and precariously balanced 120 meter tall Dolerite columns, a product of volcanic and erosive forces that occurred over 100 million years ago. Visitors to the reserve will not only be rewarded by this spectacular wonder of nature, but also by a range of flora and fauna, as well as birds, the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, kudu, buffalo and the majestic Black Eagle.
 
Major Events & Festivals
 
The Grahamstown National Arts Festival
The Grahamstown National Arts Festival takes place every year in July, and is possibly the Eastern Cape's biggest annual event. Culture buffs, students and families flock to the university town to enjoy everything related to the arts, be it drama, dance, opera and cabaret, or fine art, crafts, jazz and poetry. Streets are transformed into living theatre offering all sort of activities including all night dance parties, medieval banquets and jovial carnivals – truly something for everyone and a must on every calendar.
 
The National Festival of Science, Engineering and Technology
Also known as the Sasol SciFest, this exhibition takes place late March in Grahamstown, featuring some 600 events, including lectures, a laser show, robotics competitions, field trips and even a film festival. Plenty of entertainment is on offer, with over 35 000 visitors attending every year.
 
Billabong Pro Surfing Competition
Every year in July hoards of people flock to Jeffrey's Bay to witness world-class surfers in action. See them take on the Bay's famous 800 meter swells as they compete for the title. When not watching the surfing, there is plenty to do in Jeffrey's Bay, including the Shell Museum or Penguin Rehabilitation Centre. Otherwise book a tour further out to enjoy a leisurely horse-back ride or feel the wind in your hair as you try your hand at sandboarding.
 
Adventure
 
Sandboarding

A mixture of surfing and snowboarding, sandboarding is easy to learn and great fun. Take a full or half day expedition to the pristine dunes in Jeffrey's Bay to enjoy the sun and sand. Tour operators include instruction, equipment, transport and refreshments, so slap on the sunscreen and get going – you will never want to stop!

 
Abseiling

You don't need to be an experienced abseiler to participate in the Stormsriver Gorge abseil – even the novice is welcome. The 35 km route is relatively easy, offering spectacular, unspoilt scenery, with huge rock formations above and the meandering river below. A great opportunity to experience something different.

 
Blackwater Tubing
The ultimate in kloofing adventure, experience breathtaking scenery and fun adventure as you follow the path of the Stormsriver Gorge. For the more energetic sign up for the Stormsriver Gorge Challenge, where you will abseil 110 meters down the cliff, enjoy two hours of exhilarating blackwater tubing, before guiding your mountain bike over 22 km of unspoilt beauty – hard work but worth it!
 
Arts, Culture & History
 
The Frontier Country Route
The 19 th Century the Eastern Cape's Frontier was the scene of nine Frontier Wars between the British and the Xhosa, and today it presents a range of attractions, including battlefields and old forts, monuments and museums, ethnic villages, arts, culture and annual festivals. A must for any history lover, particularly for the beautiful rural scenery.
 
Graaff-Reneit

Take a step back in time to the 18 th Century town of Graaff-Reinet, where you can enjoy a range of interesting exhibits and attractions. Included in the Museum complex is the Reinet, displaying a beautiful collection of period furniture, the Old Residency with its showcase of firearms and musical instruments, and the Old Library Museum, the town's first library, offering a display of fossils and art.

 
Grahamstown
Visit this 19 th century English cathedral town, largely untouched by modern development, well known for its student population due to its large university. Enjoy olden day settler cottages, Victorian villas and Georgian mansions, or surround yourself with the history of gothic cathedrals, barracks, monuments and museums.
 
Shopping
 
Shopping Malls
The big cities all offer convenient shopping malls with large retailers selling everything from clothing and shoes to medicines and groceries. Shopping malls such as Greenacres in Port Elizabeth and Vincent Park in East London also offer cinemas and a range of restaurants and coffee shops. If it is affordable surf gear that you are looking for Jeffrey's Bay is the surfing mecca, offering a range of surf shops as well as the Billabong and Quicksilver factory shops. Most tourist attractions also have small curio shops selling attractive African pieces.
 
Craft Markets
The Eastern Cape's various towns offer plenty of bargaining possibilities, with Port Elizabeth and East London boasting plenty of beachfront craft and flea markets, particularly over the holiday season. The craft markets offer all sorts of interesting wares, including African masks, woodcarvings, beaded goods, clothing, jewellery and other collectables.
 
Climate
 
The Eastern Cape's Sunshine Coast between St Francis Bay and East London boasts a subtropical climate, with temperatures in winter reaching an average of 21° C while summer temperatures climb to 28°C, sometimes soaring into the mid 30's, offering warmer sea temperatures of up to 24°C. East London has a more moderate temperature with pleasant summer sunshine and mild winters. Increased altitudes further inland means colder weather, often with a sprinkling of snow during colder spells.