Eastern Cape of South Africa

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth or PE is the largest town in the Eastern Cape Province and boasts very friendly people, which is where its nickname of “the Friendly City” stems.

Other names it is known by are “the Windy City” and “Die Baai.” As the commercial capital of the Eastern Cape and the Nelson Mandela Bay district, there are plenty of shopping opportunities and entertainment hot spots as well as string schools, low crime rates, laid back lifestyle, and very little traffic congestion. With exciting wildlife reserves and a diverse ecosystem, the adventurous traveler is also kept happy. With its own international airport and a host of world class hotels and guest houses, along with many pristine blue flag beaches, it is easy to see why this peaceful place is at the top of many vacationers’ lists. One of the major places to go here is the fabulous Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World along the beachfront in the exclusive Summerstrand suburb. Part of the Sun International Group, this casino offers 802 slot machines and 21 tables. There is also a convention center, sports café, plenty of restaurants, a children’s entertainment section, shops, amphitheatre, cinema, commercial and residential developments around a man made lake, hotels and much more.

East London

East London is the only river port in South Africa along the Buffalo River. It is a small city along the Indian Ocean and is the second largest economic center in the province. Much of this economy comes from the Daimler Chrysler plant near the harbor as well as clothing, textiles and pharmaceuticals. Among attractions here the museum, zoo and aquarium are not to be missed. The East London Zoological Gardens are unique because it was established in an indigenous coastal forest of 45 hectares and you can see wonderful flora as well as animals. You can view the entire zoo on the “Smartie Train” and stop in at the curio shop. You can also enjoy cakes and refreshments at the kiosk. At the oldest aquarium in the country, opened over 70 years ago, you can enjoy viewing all the major and minor marine life with over 400 species. You can also support some of the exciting dolphin and whale shows that are put on daily. This aquarium is unique in many areas and one is the whale viewing deck that overlooks the Indian Ocean where one can see the migrating Southern Right Whales as they pass by. Another great attraction is the shark tank built above the rocks on the shoreline.

Wild Coast

One of the most stunning, unspoiled coastlines of South Africa is called the Wild Coast. The rugged rocks and unique biodiversity extend from East London all the way to Durban, South Africa and includes Coffee Bay, the Kei Rover Mouth, Kenton on Sea, Bosmansrivier mond, Port Edward, Port St, Johns and many other small villages and towns. Along the Wild Coast you can enjoy peaceful accommodation at various destinations which are eco-friendly and have been established to show off this immaculate area of South Africa. Some of the most popular hotels and lodges include the Anchorage Hotel, Hole in the Wall, Haga Haga Hotel, Seagulls Hotel, The Haven, Mbetyi River Lodge and many others. The locals here are determined to maintain and sustain this are of coast line which means that vacationing here will be tranquil and environmentally enthralling. One of the historic attractions in the area that is very interesting to see is Diaz Cross on the top of the cliffs overlooking the ocean near Kwaaihoek. The walk to the cross planted by Bartholomew Diaz in 1488 is dependent on the tides and care must be taken when visiting it. Another historic sight is the lighthouse at Cape St. Francis. This circular lighthouse was commissioned in 1878 and stands 28 meters high with a massive revolving lantern. It was made a national monument in 1984. Near this landmark is the popular surfing area of Seal Point with ideal waves and angles for photography. Another great place to visit that offers exciting jet skiing, power boating, canoeing, windsurfing and more is the Swartkops River Estuary. Sardinia Bay is a lovely marine reserve that offers visitors a stunning look at the natural habitats in the area. Bottlenose dolphins and Southern Right Whales with their calves are popular sights.

The Former Homelands along the Wild Coast

The Eastern Cape is home to the former black homelands of the Transkei and Ciskei.

Here you will find traditional villages and rural communities on the rolling hills and nestled in the valleys. These people are mainly farmers and many do not understand or speak English. At various villages and towns here influential figures where born and raised. Nelson Mandela was one of them, having being born in Qunu near Mthatha (formerly known as Umtata) which is considered to be the gateway to the Wild Coast region. There is now a museum honoring him along the M2 highway in this town. Bisho is the capital of the Eastern Cape and is a Xhosa word meaning buffalo named after the river the runs through here. Other former homeland towns include the seaside areas of Cintsa which is a haven for children and one can enjoy canoe rides here and visit the nearby Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve, Mazeppa Bay which has excellent fishing spots, and Phondoland’s Khululeka Retreat in a state indigenous forest.

Interior Regions of South Africa >>>