Eastern Cape Attractions
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Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
EASTERN CAPE ATTRACTIONS
The Nelson Mandela Metro (including Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch) is the gateway to the Eastern Cape Region, its well-equipped airport and harbour linking South Africa with other national and international destinations.
Known as the "Friendly City", Port Elizabeth is located on the south-eastern coast, 763 km east of Cape Town. A superb value-for-money holiday base, Port Elizabeth offers a diverse selection of attractions as a family-fun holiday destination including scenic nature trails, historic heritage, magnificent wildlife, cultural experiences and countless water sport activities.
Algoa Bay's 40 km of breathtaking coastline boasts a perfect combination of warm water, protected beaches and is complemented by Port Elizabeth's wonderful climate, which has been rated as having the fourth best weather of any coastal city in the world. The area also supports the most diverse array of vegetation types in South Africa as five of the country's seven terrestrial biogeographic areas are represented in the Eastern Cape.
A city that still manages to retain some of its old fashioned values blended with a dollop of laidback charm makes East London - the gateway to the wild coast and the sunshine coast and the only river port in South Africa - one of the most appealing cities on the coast.
East London is all about its long, white stretches of sandy beach that appeal to surfers, swimmers and sun worshippers alike. The beaches here are some of the finest in the world and a few, like Nahoon Reef, are a surfer’s paradise and host to international surfing competitions. East London’s easy access to other areas like the Wild Coast, and inland to the Amatola Mountains, also makes it a popular destination. Known as the Buffalo City, East London lies on the Buffalo River, its people are refreshingly friendly and its weather generally pleasant throughout the year.
This is holiday place for the whole family and, whilst the natural history museum - home to the only dodo egg in existence and an awesome exhibit of the coelacanth - is a rainy day opportunity not to be missed, sand-boarding on Bonza Bay’s massive sand dunes and a visit to the Lion Park to see lion cubs are fine weather events. Add to this already fairly long list of things to do, the aquarium, Queens Park Zoo and botanical gardens; toss in a heap of water sports, and you have a recipe for a really successful, sun swept time away from it all.
South Africa's only river port city is set on the broad Buffalo River and one of the most attractive stretches of the Eastern Cape seaboard. East London's sweeping white beaches extend for miles, unpolluted and uncrowded. Swimming, sailing, water-skiing, boardsailing and boating are enjoyed all year round, while the river mouths, lagoons and gullies provide a paradise for fishermen.
Grahamstown, just off the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred, is the home of Rhodes University, and the host of one of the country’s longest running and major arts festivals - the National Arts Festival.
Regarded as the heart of the tourist route known as 'Frontier Country', Grahamstown, along with towns like Alicedale, Sidbury, Riebeeck East, Hogsback and Alice, is part of one of the most diverse ecological regions in South Africa, with thousands of hectares devoted to nature and game conservation, and a history seeped in forts, conflict and strife.
Grahamstown lies at the intersection of four very different climatic zones and its unpredictable weather is part of the excitement of the annual arts festival, which takes place in the middle of winter and sees thousands of people bundled in coats, gloves and scarves, descend on the city, whose broad tree-lined streets, gorgeous historical buildings, museums and plethora of churches - responsible for its ‘City of Saints’ label - are a throw-back to the time when Grahamstown was the second largest city in the Cape.
Elephant Park Eastern Cape
Situated in a malaria free area just one hour's drive from the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the magnificently diverse Addo Elephant Park offers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultural experiences. You will be amazed at the variety of South Africa Wildlife that can be experienced in one easily accessible destination.
Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.
The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, 280 Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
The obvious main attraction of the Addo Elephant Park is the park’s 350 or so African Elephants. The Black Rhino and Cape Buffalo are also notable species, but unlike the elephant, these species are easier to see by night. Visitors should also look out for the flightless dung beetle, a species unique to the Addo region and that feeds on the faeces of the large ungulates. There are also many other large herbivores, particularly antelope species such as kudu, eland, red hartebeest and springbok.
Jeffreys Bay, or "J-Bay" as it is known to the locals, brings to mind surfing, sunshine and beautiful beaches - and you’d be right. Home to the Billabong Surfing Festival every July and rated among the ten best surfing spots in the world, surfers from across the globe come to enjoy the rolling surf. Jeffreys Bay is a beach paradise.
Jeffreys Bay is one of endless summer where people predominantly come to escape the city life and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle - swimming costumes are the requisite attire. The beaches are safe and the water is warm, so swimming and water sports are the main pastime. As if this weren’t enough of an invitation, this stretch of the coast is also home to dolphins that grace the waves and there are often whale sightings. There are also a variety of shells that visitors collect by the handful - and they’re welcome to do so. You can see local shells displayed in the Shell Museum alongside shells from other countries.
This part of the Eastern Cape has a unique climate - the landscape is mainly flat and dry between the sea and the distant mountains and the vegetation is typically aloes, fynbos, sour figs and shrub land. Temperatures are moderate with rainfall all year. Summers are warm and winters mild, which is why water sports are so popular.
Tsitsikamma National Park
The Tsitsikamma National Park is situated at the heart of the picturesque tourist region known as the Garden Route, found in the Southern Cape of South Africa. Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word meaning, “place of much water". The Park incorporates 80 km of rocky coastline with spectacular sea and landscapes, a remote mountainous region with secluded valleys covered in mountain Fynbos and temperate high forests with deep river gorges leading down to the sea.
The Tsitsikamma’s spectacular scenery includes the Indian Ocean breakers, pounding rocky shores beneath 180 m high cliffs, ever-green forests and fynbos (proteas and heath) rolling down to the sea in a lush carpet where ancient rivers have carved their path to the ocean through rocky ravines. All this conspires to attract large numbers of international and local tourist to the Park.
Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life. This is one of the largest single unit ‘no take’ (including fishing) Marine Protected Areas in the world, conserving 11% of South Africa’s Temperate South Coast rocky shoreline and provides a 'laboratory' for fisheries baseline research on endangered fish species. In 1964 when it was proclaimed, it became the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa.