Sandwiched between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, The Eastern Cape as a destination is somewhat underrated internationally when compared to its big hitting siblings like the Kruger National Park, Sun City and Cape Town. However, we strongly believe this destination should definitely be one of the next places you choose to visit the next time you are in South Africa; it has excellent game viewing, beautiful beaches that benefit from the warm Indian Ocean, spectacular scenery and a wide range of exciting activities to keep everyone in the family entertained – it is the self-proclaimed ‘adventure province’. Easily accessible through its two main airports in Port Elizabeth and East London, a trip to the Eastern Cape province is a great addition to any South Africa holiday itinerary.
From safari to deep sea fishing, surfing to bungee jumping and hiking to hand gliding; there’s something to everyone in your party happy. One of the largest provinces in the country, second only to the vast North West, the Eastern Cape has an excellent range of accommodation options to suit all budgets from luxurious safari lodges like Woodbury Lodge to boutique hotels by the sea like The Sands at St Francis, as well as exclusive use villas and manor houses for those who are travelling with a large family, or who might just want some more privacy.
One of the main attractions to the province is the large western region, which is home to the Algoa Bay beaches, Addo National Elephant Park where elephant sightings are almost guaranteed and the adjacent private game reserves. Head further inland and you will find Grahamstown, a hub of activity thanks to Rhodes University and the National Arts Festival, while along the coast are the popular seaside towns and surfing meccas of Jeffreys Bay and Port Alfred.
For dramatic scenery head to the charming small town of Graaff-Reinet which is surrounded by national parks and breath-taking scenery. It is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and is known as the gem of the Karoo with its array of galleries, museums and restaurants. The nearby Valley of Desolation provides excellent hiking opportunities and sweeping vistas will reward your hard work once you get to the top, whilst nearby private game reserves like the Samara are the perfect place to enjoy a luxury safari experience.
The Eastern Cape will also afford you the chance to see the Big Seven up close: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, rhino, great white shark and southern right whale – a collection of Africa’s most impressive animals that spans both land and sea.
A big advantage that the Eastern Cape has over its more famous sibling the Kruger National Park is that the province is free from malaria. This makes it an ideal destination for families, as parents don’t have to spend time worrying about the risk of their children catching malaria. As well as this, the province also has a wide variety of affordable, but luxurious accommodation options that are perfect for families including Hlosi Game Lodge in the Amakhala Game Reserve with its Cubs on Safari programme and the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth with its kids club, cinema and go karting track.
The Eastern Cape also has a rich cultural heritage from unsullied Xhosa villages where women still paint their faces with ocher clay to 18th and 19th century colonial mansions, the range and depth of the Eastern Cape's cultural heritage is amazing. Since the early 19th century, the Eastern Cape has also been a frontier and a focus of black resistance. In almost every town you'll find fascinating museums and art galleries. The province is also the home of one of the main cultural highlights of South Africa the annual National Arts Festival, which runs for 10 action-packed days every late June and/or July in Grahamstown.
So there you have it! our short guide to this incredible destination. If our blog has got you interested in exploring the province for yourself then get in touch with us on 020 7843 3500 and our experts will help create an Eastern Cape itinerary tailored exactly to your requirements.
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