Forgotten provinces: Eastern Cape

Posted by Leila Stein on 11 May 2020

South Africa is a big country with lots to experience. Often some of these experiences are over looked for the big name attractions.

One such province is the Eastern Cape. This province has been a source of inspiration for many writers over the years and it’s no surprise why.

Take a trip to the Wild Coast and Frontier Country within the Eastern Cape.

Camdeboo National Park 

 

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Visit this unique landscape and stay awhile to experience all that is on offer.

With two tented-camp facilities in the park and Graaf-Reniet just outside, there is no shortage of accommodation.

The main attraction you can’t miss is the Valley of Desolation. Drive up to the top and look over the panoramic views of the piled dolerite columns against the backdrop of the plains of the Great Karoo.

Visitors can also drive along the roads through the park to view the indigenous game and birds in their natural habitat, there are also two 4×4 trails for those with a feel for adventure and the right car.

If you prefer to take things slower on foot, there are various hiking trails which take you through this landscape with varying levels of difficulty.

Bathurst

 

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Issa trick

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This tiny town just outside of Makanda (formerly Grahamstown) is most well-known for two things. The first is the historic pig and whistle pub where you can get a great full breakfast and the other is the giant pineapple.

The town is a great stopover experience but not really big enough for a full stay. If breakfast isn’t your thing grab a milkshake from the retro-style cafe on the way to see the strangest site. Bathurst is known for growing pineapples and one farm explains this process and history inside a gigantic structure.

Saint Francis Bay

 

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CStF lighthouse . . . #lighthouse #lighthousesofinstagram #ocean #wildocean #landscapephotography #capestfrancis #capestfrancislighthouse

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This popular beachside holiday destination may be familiar. One of the best surfing spots in the country known for its picturesque uniform thatched homes dotted along the towns canals.

Saint Francis Bay is the spot for those who love all things beachside. From surfing and swimming, to fishing and stand-up paddle boarding, there are so many activities to keep you busy.

There is plenty accommodation but being such a popular spot, they get booked up fast for during vacation season. Find some of our best stays here.

Mountain Zebra National Park 

 

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Just outside of Cradock, this lesser-known national park was originally established to stop the Cape Mountain zebra from going extinct. Today, there are zebra, cheetah, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, gemsbok, mountain reedbuck, kudu, buffalo and black rhino and lions.

A unique experience offered in this national park is the opportunity to track cheetahs on foot. With a guide on hand, you can follow a cheetah who was been collard as they make their way around the park.

There are quite a few options for accommodation to stay inside the park in one of two cottages on the edge of the mountain or if you prefer to rough it there are camping spots around the park.

Those who are keen to hike can go along the trails, with an overnight trail option also available.

Nieu Bethesda

 

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Go back in time with this quirky village in the Great Karoo. The town was born out of a farm and founded around the NG Kerk, this town is quite famous in the province for it’s charm and small-town nature.

Take a look at The Owl House which contains over 300 statues made by the artists Helen Martins and Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre which serve as the two main incomes for the small town.

The town is quite small so may not require an overnight stay but should you wish to experience this unique place for longer, there are host of options available to you.

Addo Elephant Park 

 

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The third largest national park in the country, Addo Elephant Park now hosts more than just elephants, though they are still the main attraction.

Visitors can choose to do a self-drive around the Park or one of the guided tours. While elephants may seem big, some guests have been known to visit and not spot a single one because they are so good at hiding.

Avid hikers can hike the paths on the Zuurberg Mountains or if you’re looking for a longer journey, the circular Alexandria Hiking Trail is available with an overnight stay.

Those who prefer to experience the trails on horseback can book a ride with an experienced guide which leave once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

With multiple accommodation options inside the park, including five-star luxury lodges, visitors are spoilt for choice. Those who wish can also just make a day trip to Addo from Port Elizabeth.

Hogsback 

 

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Hogsback sits in the Amathole Mountains, offering enchanting views for those who visit.

With a host of accommodation options from guesthouses to backpackers, taking a stopover to explore these ‘misty mountains’ is definitely recommended. With trails down into the valley to view waterfalls to mountain biking through the forests, this is a spot for those who love the outdoors.

Tsitsikamma National Park

 

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The selfie bridge #stormsriver #tsitsikamma #exploregardenroute

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Part of the Garden Route National Park, Tsitsikamma is home to lush green vegetation growing along rivers which wind their way down to the ocean. The park straddles the Western and Eastern Cape, with the Bloukrans Bridge as the dividing line.

Visitors can enter the Eastern Cape and bungee jump off this bridge, known as the world’s highest commercial bungee jump.

Moving into the Tsitsikamma National Park, visitors can explore the area around storms river, where it meets the ocean. Hike along the trail, which takes you from the river mouth up inwards and onto the plateau above.

With the boundary stretching out for a bit over the sea, this protected area is great for spotting a host of sea life including dolphins, African Black oystercatcher and Cape clawless otters.

Accommodation in the area in plenty, just choose somewhere close to the activities you want to experience.

Rhodes 

 

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Another small village, Rhodes sits in the mountains bordering Lesotho. Declared a conservation area in 1992, this area is known for its natural beauty and hosting world class sporting events including a trail run, mountain biking race and trout fishing festival.

Visitors can explore the area on foot with multiple hiking trails, 4×4 trails, visit the rock art found in the area, and experience how the locals make a living on the various working farms.

Stay in some of the accommodation options in the hamlet where you can rest after a long day with the a Rhodes Brewing Company beer.

Coffee Bay 

 

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Named after a shipwreck that lost its coffee beans off the coast, this beautiful land of rolling hills and rugged cliffs that plunge down to the see is a great getaway.

Part of the ‘Transkei homeland’ the area is not extremely built up, having had little economic investment. This has led to a flourishing wildlife and vegetation making this one of the best areas for hikes and a swim in the ocean.

The rural feel of the area, with rondavels dotted along the horizon and livestock roaming around the towns, beaches and countryside make it a great place for a break.

Image: MelissaBWhite/Twitter

 

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