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Eastern Cape Attractions

EASTERN CAPE ATTRACTIONS
  Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
 

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.
The Bay, which is a favoured draw-card for beach and watersport enthusiasts is fast becoming known as South Africa's watersport capital and offers activity throughout the year, especially wind-surfing and fishing. In fact, Algoa Bay is regarded as one of the best sailing venues in the world, while scuba diving is of world class quality with beautiful reefs, shipwrecks, fish and colourful coral species.

 

Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

The weather is almost always mild and there are few days when the sun doesn’t effortlessly shine. Forested areas include prehistoric cycads, sneezewood and yellowwood trees, and areas thick with vegetation. The sky is often rent with the call of the fish eagle, and a tumult of bird calls are a combination of sea, coastal and inland birds. Explore the traditions and customs of the local Xhosa people, visit the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and learn about the astonishingly uplifting life of the man who lead South Africa into her modern democracy at Umtata’s

As its name suggests, the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape that extends between the Mtamvuna River in the north and the Great Kei River to the south, is an untamed wilderness. It is an incredible, unassuming combination of breath-taking coastline, precipitous and craggy cliff faces, wild and desolate beaches, secluded bays and green rolling hills that rush headlong into deeply etched river valleys. Included in the Wild Coast is what used to be the Transkei, which, largely due to lack of infrastructure, past neglect, and the fact that it isn’t easy to ‘fly in’ for a weekend, has ensured that the well over 200 kilometre coastline is virtually inaccessible to all but those prepared to hike it, or venture forth on horseback. The beauty of the coastline is interfered with by few, and aside from the odd collection of thatched rondavel huts, is virtually uninhabited.

This Wild Coast area acted as a border for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was rife with conflict between British colonists and the rural Xhosa people who lived a colourful and richly cultural existence in this beautiful region. The birth place of Nelson Mandela is an effortlessly unspoiled land that claims to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 
 

Addo 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. 

 

Seaview Lion Park, Port Elizabeth
Largest of the cat family, the Lion, has forever captured the attention of young and old alike. Their majestic presence and title of "king of the jungle", is contrasted by their cute-and-cuddly appearance. The Seaview Lion Park in Port Elizabeth has made playing with lion cubs of varying ages an experience open to the public. Located just 25km’s from the Port Elizabeth city centre, Seaview Lion Park provides what is likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Depending on the age of the cubs when you visit, you’ll have the chance to play with cubs varying in age from 4 - 9 months. As you enter the park, you are sure to be quickly greeted by Giraffe who seem almost oblivious of your presence. Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala, Duiker Monkeys and 40 other species of wildlife roam free in this wonderful game reserve.

Your first stop will be at an enclosure that is home to 3 incredible tigers. Whilst they spend most of the day up in the trees, if you time your visit around feeding time, you’ll be able to see these incredible cats roaming around and enjoying their lunch. Alongside the tiger enclosure are 3 other sections home to a number of white lions who are part of a special breeding program. A short drive from the tigers, will bring you to the lion petting section of the Seaview Lion Park. A well constructed wooden walkway takes you above the enclosures of the lion cubs, lynx’s, warthogs and even little meerkats. 

 

Valley of Desolation, Eastern Cape

Valley of Desolation and Spadou Kop

Valley Of Desolation, Eastern Cape - The Valley of Desolation is a geological phenomenon; a sheer cliff face, declared a national monument that lies within the Camdeboo National Park - a unique Karoo landscape and ecosystem that surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, creating a type of oasis in the midst of the aridness of the Karoo. The vertical cliffs and columns of dolerite that teeter precariously 120 metres above the valley floor are breathtaking. This unusual feature is the product of volcanic and erosive forces that have taken 100 million years to form. They stand sentry over a valley - huge isolated hobgoblins of nature, forcing those who view them to suspend time, if only for a moment, to contemplate the force and beauty of nature. 

Graaff-Reinet is without doubt worth a visit just for the charmingly restored Karoo-style homes and the historical buildings; and the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda lures even the most cynical tourist to the Owl House - the tours never fail to impress and the camel yard to enchant

 

Camdeboo National Park, Eastern Cape

Wildlife in Camdeboo National Park

Formed hundreds of millions of years ago, the Karoo of South Africa is one of the great natural wonders of the world. Camdeboo National Park provides the visitor with insights into the unique landscape and ecosystem of the Karoo as well as splendid scenic beauty. The greater portion of the Camdeboo National park is situated between 740 and 1480 metres above sea level on the foothills of the Sneeuberg range, while a small section of the low lying plains is included. An interesting feature of the 14,500 ha Camdeboo National Park is its very unique and unusual location - It practically surrounds the historical town of Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape. The Nqweba Dam lies within the park and covers about 1000 ha when full. In some places dolerites form jointed pillars, the best examples of which are found in the Valley of Desolation where erosion of the softer sedimentary beds has left dolerite pillars which rise to heights of 90 - 120 metres.

Visitors to the Camdeboo National Park can expect to see a diverse spectrum of
South Africa's wildlife. The bat-eared fox is often seen hunting by the use of its large ears to locate insects while the communal behaviour of the Suricate (meerkat) can be fascinating to watch.Wildlife regularly spotted in the Camdeboo Park include steenbok, springbok, blesbok and black wildebeest. Kudu and grey duiker are common as well as the less often seen Cape buffalo. You might even catch a glimpse of the Red hartebeest and gemsbok and Cape mountain zebra are reportedly seen from time to time.

 

Frontier Country, Eastern Cape

Frontier Country Region, Eastern Cape

A hauntingly beautiful region, arguably the crucible of South African history, Frontier Country is a vibrant mix of all the best that Africa has to offer. One of the premier tourist routes in the Eastern Cape, it has a turbulent past, with more forts than the rest of South Africa combined.Now no longer the scene of conflict and strife, Frontier Country is the historic heartland of the Eastern Cape and embodies the spirit of the many and varied cultures who met here and made their mark - Khoi, Xhosa, Boer and British.

They brought with them a rich heritage that can still be seen today in towns and villages all over the Eastern Cape. With Grahamstown at its centre, Frontier Country is one of the most diverse ecological regions in South Africa, with a variety of biomes that provide unspoilt and spectacular scenery. Thousands of hectares are devoted to nature and game conservation, bringing with them the return of great herds of wildlife to the places where they once roamed freely. This malaria-free region is fast gaining local and international popularity for excellent game-viewing with a variety of private reserves which include the Big Five.

 

Grahamstown, Frontier Country

To most South Africans, 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.

 
Grahamstown National Arts Festival
The
Grahamstown Arts Festival, which during apartheid was a hive of political and protest theatre that never closed its doors to any race, colour, sex or creed, and imposes no censorship or artistic restraint on works presented at the festival, continues as a platform for experimentation.The Fringe still serves as a great place to spot talent as theatre is not subject to a selection committee, as is the main festival. Grahamstown maintains its small-town Victorian charm, its over 100 schools and university earning it a reputation as an academic city. grahamstown is also a bird watchers delight. The Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, which lies just outside the city, and the Great Fish River Reserve, about 35 kilometres away, both provide a wide variety of bird life.

The Oldenburgia hiking trail, Grahamstown’s own hiking trail, is a two-day circular trail starting and ending in the city, and there are another two shorter walking trails in town - the Dassie Krantz and Gowie Kloof.
 

Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Shamwari Game Reserve is the Southernmost, Big Game, private reserve in Africa - Malaraia Free. This ultimate African adventure stretches along the Bushman's river, halfway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, and forms a natural extension to the famous Garden Route. The 25 000 hectare game reserve is steeped in Settler history, and dates back to the time when game roamed freely in the Eastern Cape. Shamwari is about conserving a vanishing way of life, and has been awarded a number of International awards for it's efforts in conservation coupled with tourism.Shamwari's highly trained game rangers, with skilled service staff will ensure a memorable adventure, personalised to your needs.

In keeping with it's conservation policy, Shamwari has a complete
wildlife research team as well as it's own anti poaching unit, ensuring an ecological balance prevails on this reclaimed piece of wilderness. Shamwari Game Reserve has received numerous international awards, including the World's Leading Conservation Company and Game Reserve for a number of consecutive years. It is situated in verdant bush along the Bushmans River, halfway between Port Elizabeth (45 minutes drive outside the city) and Grahamstown, a pleasant drive from Cape Town, forming a natural extension to the famous Garden Route. Shamwari is about conserving a vanishing way of life and is the realisation of one man's dream, and the success of many people's passion. Steeped in Settler history, and dating back to the time when a multitude of game roamed wild and free, the 25 000 hectare reserve boasts five eco-systems, thus enabling the support of many forms of plant, animal and bird life.

 

Jansenville, Karoo Heartland

Jansenville

Lying north west of the upper reaches of the Addo Elephant National Park, Jansenville lies in the Eastern Cape's nature and conservation region, an area of roughly 438 000 hectares of managed nature reserves that are committed to protecting bio-diversity, conservation and forming beneficial relationship with local communities.Of course there are those who dispute the Eastern Cape's claim to Jansenville, and it does indeed lie close enough to Graaff-Reinet and the Camdeboo to allow its sometime annexation by the Karoo, even if much of the vegetation bears a more than passing resemblance to bushveld.

Perhaps it is the grassy plateaus and the easy slopes that allow one to think one has entered the Karoo. Or it is the town's prettiness and its location north of the
Zuurberg Mountains in an area known as Noorsveld, where one finds more than a few cactus like succulents known as Noors plants that are not only very beautiful, but in times of drought serve as cattle feed - you can understand why Jansenville has difficulty associating itself with the Eastern Cape.

Jansenville is primarily a hunting and farming town, surrounded by game farms that lies on the R75 past Glenconnor and Wolwefontein. In the past it was the terrain of the nomadic Khoi and cattle farmers. The town lies on the first white settler to the region's original farm, known then as Vergenoegd (far enough).The town itself offers enough to keep one occupied. If you are a fan of Anglo-Boer War forts, one lies on the pinnacle of a hill just outside Jansenville built in 1901, and the museum building, a fabulously preserved art deco home, is definitely worth a visit.

 

Sidbury, Frontier Country

Zebra in the Malaria-free Eastern Cape

Lying in the midst of what is considered 'frontier country', Sidbury is one of several quaint little towns, with Grahamstown as their centre, that make up one of the most ecologically diverse regions in South Africa and the heart of thousands of hectares of nature and game conservation dedicated to returning this part of the country to its former glory as a free game roaming land.Historical Sidbury lies just east of Shamwari Game Reserve, forming the tip of a triangle with Alicedale and Paterson, south west of Grahamstown. It is a small village modelled, in the 1830s, on the English village of Richard Daniel's memory that today still boasts two beautiful churches and a number of war graves that bear tribute to what was once war-torn grassy fields.

This area was part of a series of fierce battles fought between British settlers and local people who regarded this land, so glibly divided and sold to settlers, as theirs. A famous visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 to Sidbury placed the little village on the map and the celebrated Sidbury cricket grounds continue to host exciting games to this day.Now this part of the country once ravaged by war is a malaria-free region that provides wonderful chances to view game, including the Big Five, without having to head off to the nether regions of the
Limpopo Province. Whilst the main attraction is arguably the annual Grahamstown Arts Festival, which attracts thousands of performers, musicians, art-lovers, dancers and theatre lovers, the countryside and its myriad game farms and nature reserves easily competes for second position; some would argue first.

 

Valley of The Ancient Voices, Eastern Cape

Welcome to this very special experience of Africa, and join a 4-hour journey that spans thousands of years in the Valley of the Ancient Voices. Rock art, relics and artefacts give clues to the myriad of animals and people that have crossed through this place. Join a walking tour that spans thousands of years in The Valley of the Ancient Voices. Discover the rock art, relics and artifacts as well as the history of a place that has been used as a home, a refuge and a place of spiritual significance. 20 minutes from Grahamstown and a pleasant day-trip from Port Elizabeth. Welcome to this very special experience of Africa and join a 4-hour journey that spans thousands of years in The Valley of the Ancient Voices. Rock art, relics and artifacts give clues to the myriad of animals and people that have crossed through this place – using it as a place of refuge, or a home, or of spiritual significance. Follow the same paths that they did, paths as ancient as the rocky outcrops into which they have been worn.


 

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