province of South Africa

Eastern Cape is in South Africa and stretches along the Indian Ocean between Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The Eastern Cape's Wildcoast is a rough piece of nature.

Understand edit

The Eastern Cape province includes the former "homelands" of Transkei and Ciskei. With a long coastline on the Indian Ocean it offers great beaches as well as several very interesting National Parks. Its population is mainly Xhosa-speaking and the province is home to several of South Africa's most important persons in the fight against Apartheid (e.g. Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Steve Biko and Oliver Tambo). It's still a poor province especially in the former homelands but beautiful and not so touristy.

Regions edit

The Eastern Cape can be divided in the following regions:

Eastern Cape regions - Color-coded map
Tsitsikamma has large tracts of indigenous forest and Fynbos with deep river gorges.
A wilderness destination that offers camping, hiking and a serene refuge.
  Sunshine Coast
This sun-blessed region has plenty of charm, sun-drenched beaches, warm waters and quaint seaside villages.
  Karoo Heartland
The inland region bordering onto the Western Cape Karoo and rest of the Northern Cape Karoo in the Northern Cape.
  Settler Country
The inland region bordering onto the Free State and Lesotho.
  Wild Coast
It offers spectacular coastlines without the tourist crowd.

Cities edit

  • 1 Bhisho   — the capital of the Eastern Cape
  • 2 Port Elizabeth — the largest city in the province, now called Gqeberha, is connected to the rest of the country by flights, freeways and rail.
  • 3 East London — the second largest city is accessible by plane, car and train and is the starting point for travelling to the former Transkei and Wild Coast.
  • 4 Grahamstown — heart of the Settler Country offering traditional atmosphere.
  • 5 Mthatha — the main city in the former Transkei Ekhayeni lika khanya ngedle
  • 6 Graaff-Reinet — one of the oldest cities in South Africa, it is littered with listed buildings from the Wilhelminian era

Other destinations edit

  • 1 Cintsa — backpackers' haven with two famous hostels and a great atmosphere.
  • 2 Hogsback — high up in the Amathole mountain range, surrounded by indigenous forests with hiking trails and waterfalls.
  • 3 Pearston   — the peaceful hamlet of Pearston personifies the Karoo. It is reached from Graaff-Reinet by driving across the Camdeboo, where the scenery is characterized by multilayered Karoo mountains and koppies in the distance across endless expanses of Karoo plains.
  • 4 Wartrail and New England — farming communities in the valleys of the Eastern Cape Drakensberg

National parks edit

Other nature reserves edit

  • 9 Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve   — spectacular land forms, a diverse array of plants and wide variety of animals
  • 10 Commando Drift Nature Reserve   — 60 km east from Cradock
  • 11 Dwesa and Cwebe Nature Reserve   — Two small reserves separated by the Mbashe River, next to the Indian Ocean near Elliotdale.

Private game reserves edit

Get in edit

By car edit

The main motorway in the province is the N2. It runs along the coast from Cape Town via the Garden Route, Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth, the Transkei and further through KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The road condition is mainly excellent except in the Transkei. Do not travel the Transkei portion of the N2 at night as the potholes can be deep and there are often stray animals, i.e., cows and goats, wandering around.

From Cape Town edit

Follow the N2 via the Overberg and into the Garden Route

From Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga edit

Follow the N1 toll road south until Colesberg, then follow the N9 from there towards Graaff-Reinet and George or follow first the N9 and then the N10 towards Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth. Avoid driving the N9 and N10 at night as game often wander onto the road at night and accidents are not uncommon. A full grown kudu or other large antelope can cause some severe damage to you and your vehicle.

By plane edit

Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth and East London are the main national airports both with several flights daily to other South African destinations, but no international flights.

By train edit

Spoornet[dead link] operates regular trains from Johannesburg to Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth and East London. There is also a once-weekly service from Cape Town to East London, a daily service between Grahamstown and Alicedale and a weekend-only service between East London and Mthatha (via Amabele).

Get around edit

A monkey off the N10

By car edit

Definitely the best option if you are more than two as several regions and some of the National Parks aren't accessible by public transport. Road Conditions are mainly good but get informed before you start. Car rental is available in larger cities and along the popular resorts of the Garden Route.

Be careful of wild animals, especially monkeys, on the road. Be especially careful if driving at night.

By bus edit

The main companies cross the Eastern Cape on their way from Cape Town to Durban. There are other main routes from Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth and East London to Johannesburg.

The Baz Bus traverses the province on its Cape Town - Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth - Durban run ; Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth is a compulsory overnight stop.

Minibus services are available for local transport between neighbouring towns (and also on several longer distances).

By train edit

With the limited range of railways this isn't really a viable option for touring the province. However, the route from Grahamstown to Alicedale is very scenic and well worth doing. The newly opened line from East London to Mthatha also traverses some dramatic scenery through the Wild Coast.

See edit

  • Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth: the provincial capital and major transportation hub
  • East London: Gateway to the Wild Coast
  • Grahamstown: University town with a colonial English atmosphere
  • Graaff-Reinet: a national heritage site and the classical example of an inland town.
  • Wild Coast: spectacular scenery and only a few tourists make this an out-off-the-beaten track destination
  • Morgan's Bay: Seaside village with magnificent cliffs that plunge into the sea.
  • Kei mouth: Southern gateway to the Wild Coast via one of South Africa's two remain pontoon car ferries.
  • Tsitsikamma National Park: not as spectacular as some of the other National Parks it offers superb coastlines, whale watching and excellent hiking.
  • Addo Elephant National Park: famous for the elephants, this park is (after the unification with Zuurberg NP) one of South Africa's largest. Also has lions.
  • Mountain Zebra National Park: small, but only very few people there. See the endangered Mountain Zebras.

Do edit

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • When in Jeffreys Bay or Paradise Beach, try the beach restaurants near Marina Martinque called Tapas - cheap or the Whale Skipper slightly more expensive. Wherever try the calamari.
  • St Francis - go out to the port and have Cajun Calamari at the Porthole for lunch, sit in the sun, enjoy the food and watch the fishermen at work. What a pleasure

Drink edit

Sleep edit

The Garden Route is a major tourist destination with a broad range of accommodation in all ranges, as is Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth.

North of East London is the spectacular Wild Coast, which begins near Morgan's Bay and Kei mouth.

Accommodation is a little bit more limited inland, but there will always be options.

Go next edit

This region travel guide to Eastern Cape is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!