15 Best Places to Visit in Eastern Cape

Martina Rosado
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Eastern Cape Map

Eastern Cape is one of the ten provinces in South Africa that make up the country. It is one of the most underdeveloped and underprivileged provinces. Poor infrastructure, lack of educational opportunities and unemployment are the main issues plaguing Eastern Cape.

However, the following list of cool places in the province have what it takes to change your perception of the area.

Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay is a small coastal village in Eastern Cape. The town is famous for having one of the most perfect beaches in South Africa, and for the great coffee that it produces.

If you’ve ever been to this area, then it’s not surprising that the town is a little bit of heaven on earth.

The town has a wide main street that is full of shops, including some great bakery and chocolate shops, as well as eateries.

It is famous for its hotels, and has good restaurants of all kinds. It’s the perfect place to stay for a few days and relax.

It is famous for having one of the most perfect beaches in South Africa. It is one of the best places in the world to see the Elephant’s Neonatal Behavior.

Insiders tip: If you are in the area, don’t miss a trip to Little Dune, a beautiful dune that is home to the Elephant’s Neonatal Behavior.

You won’t want to miss it.

Schotia Game Reserve

The Schotia Game Reserve is one of the most beautiful parks found in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. It is located near the town of Richmond about 3 hours from Port Elizabeth. The park offers some of the best scenery in the province of the Eastern Cape, including some views of a thermal activity known as Devil’s Cauldron. The area is rich in fauna and flora, but is best known as a birding site. The Schotia Game Reserve is a paradise for birding enthusiasts looking to spot a number of different bird species.

Bird species found in the Schotia Game Reserve are: Red Bellied Coot, Bateleur Eagle, African Harrier Falcon, Martial Eagle, Rock Pigeon, Green Bee-eater, Yellow-Billed Oxpecker, Tawny Eagle, Kori Bustard and Grey Parrot. The region is also rich in other fauna such as Southern Right Whales and Hippo.

Apart from the natural scenery of the park, visitors will also find a number of monuments of historical significance scattered within the park.

Rhodes

This is not just a big island by any means, but it is an island that is filled with culture and history. Famous for its Palm trees, you will find some great hotel accommodations and a beach on one side and a golf course on the other. As one of the most popular places to visit, it is likely that you will have to book a hotel or resort room months in advance.

There are many tour companies that offer boat tours along the coast or minibus tours to the small towns all over the island. There is a sprawling bay with a tropical environment to enjoy the nightlife. The nightlife here is different from other places in South Africa, all while doing your best to enjoy the local cuisine.

You will not be disappointed with the glimpses of culture and history that you get to see while on your trip here. You should look into a few tours from Air Strip tours that provides affordable tours for any adventure you may be interested in.

Namibia

Tsitsikamma National Park

Hogsback

Close to Riebeek Kasteel and Vanderbijlpark, this nature reserve has a fascinating rock formation that gets its name from the shape of the mountain. This little piece of paradise is green and clean and offers spectacular views of the Tulbagh Basin as well as the beautiful Addo Elephant Park. Hogsback nature Reserve is also packed with birdlife making it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Harts Kloof Nature Reserve

Harts Kloof Nature Reserve is a protected area in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It was founded in 1968 as a national park and was given other name after a treaty between the South African government and the Mpondos people. Vast stretches of land cover this nature reserve giving it the largest area of natural forest left in the country. Here you are guaranteed to see rare and endangered bird species, such as the Leadbeater’s Kestrels, the Knysna Lark, the Sudan Golden Weaver and the African Reed Warbler, amongst others. Here you can also get a fantastic view of the Zambesi Mountains. The nature reserve has an extensive network of hiking trails that make for an interesting experience. Also guide booklets are available and are perfect for the children. These are available in both English and Afrikaans. The best way to experience this reserve is to allow a day or two to get acclimatized to the area.

Graaff-Reinet

Graaff-Reinet is the Victorian-era name of the town of Port Elizabeth, and is renowned for being the largest inland settlement in the Eastern Cape. The town was founded in 1817 and is now the seat of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government.

Today, Graaff-Reinet is transformed into one of the annual trend-meisters on the tourism map for a grand fashion week; as the largest town in the Province and a cosmopolitan mix of people of all races; for its citrus production; and for being the birthplace of Colley Cibole or Colby Zoungloulie Bafman, who was the founder of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement.

Qolweni

Qolweni is situated on the banks of the Mthatha River, in the heart of the grand Mthatha River, in the middle of the Eastern Cape. Since 1928, Qolweni has been the home for the indigenous Bapedi people who were, until Johannes van Riebeeck’s discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, isolated from the rest of South Africa by the mighty Kei River.

Today the town is host to the best wine cellars and renowned restaurants in town. Its vineyards produce some of the finest white wine and red wine in the area.

Mountain Zebra National Park

Cintsa

Port St Johns

Port St Johns is a picturesque coastal South Africa town situated on the eastern shore of Algoa Bay which gets as much as 130km/h of wind. The area has brutal weather conditions that explain the black sandy beaches that you’ll find there.

The town is one of the most important fishing harbours in South Africa and its farmers sell the catch to Cape Town.  Local people arrive in town by foot, making it a very quiet place to be.

When you get there, you’ll find your way to Muttleuwa cemetery which is situated 10 km from the town. It has graves for all of the previous local headmen, some dating back to the early 19th Century.

Also, the whole area has rich archaeological importance. There’s a lot of history in this beautiful place.

The Gate Hotel

This is one of the best places to stay in Port St Johns and it has a beautiful view of the sea. The hotel is situated on Commercial Road and you’ll find the perfect balance of comfort and elegance.

It’s an ideal spot to kick back and recharge.

East London

Located in the beautiful Hout Bay area, it is the home built by Sir Eugenia Savage-Smith in 1912. Inside, you will find the spacious rooms, winding corridors, impressive entrances and stunning architectural details.

Furnished like the grand home that it is, you will enjoy a wonderful stay under roof as you admire the detail and design of this impressive house.

Tawana Country House

Tawana Country House is located near the village of Tawana in the historical province of the Eastern Cape.

Originally built in the mid-eighteen hundreds, it has been preserved over the centuries. In fact, this house is over one hundred years old and is a perfect backdrop to have a relaxing holiday.

When you are here, you can savour the peaceful scenery and breathe in the cool mountain air. The house is set in an area that attracts a lot of birdlife and there are several hiking trails that you can visit.

Plenty of activities are available to keep you entertained at the country house, as well as a beautiful garden that features a koi pond, koi castle and a Japanese garden.

The accommodation is privately owned and you will receive the hand of a welcoming host who is more than willing to help to ensure that you have a comfortable stay.

Caledon Country House

Camdeboo National Park

Camdeboo National Park is situated in the Eastern Cape, about an hour’s drive from East London. With a 4-hour drive from Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, the park is an ideal stop for a nature break or for your way to Namaqualand.

Camdeboo National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Cape. The park is a haven for both flora and fauna.There are numerous walking trails within the park that cover diverse flora and fauna.

The park’s fauna is concentrated on the Camdeboo River, a tributary of the Great Fish River. There is also a large population of elephants and buffalo that search for fresh water and food amid the dry river beds.

The park is also home to many water birds, such as African crowned-cranes, white storks, ducks, and shags, making it an ideal stopover for birdwatchers.

Despite not being considered a prime destination for wildlife by most people, the park is home to cheetah, hyena, zebra, blesbok, the endangered Hartmann’s mountain zebra, and the wild dog.

The park is a large area offering excellent bird-watching opportunities, but some bird species, such as eagles, may be seen elsewhere, meaning that travelers on a budget must be prepared to travel to other parks.

Grahamstown

The city that epitomises the rugged beauty of the Cape.

Grahms Town is the only SA city to have been twinned with another city in the world. The German port city, Bremerhaven, is twinned with Grahamstown in South Africa – the reason is that it takes a lot of time to get there. The reason for this is that the German city is spread out on a peninsula and the only way to get there is by ferry, which takes about eight hours each way.

Grahamstown also has the distinction of being the only city in the world – and one in a capital – to be founded by a woman. Mrs Grandjean Reitz was in charge of the original location of the city where she settled in the region that was to become the town of Grahamstown.

She was born in 1769 and married her husband, the surveyor of the region, in 1790. In 1824, she decided to stake her claim to the land, and decided to call the settlement Grand Aventure, which was a French word meaning great adventure.

Grand Aventure later became Grahamstown. The present name Grahamstown was adopted by the time of the arrival of the first settlers in 1820. In addition to being a pioneer settler, Mrs Reitz was also a very strong supporter of missionary work. She established a home for single European women who had been abandoned by their husbands.

Port Elizabeth

Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay is a seaport which serves the coastal communities of Jeffreys Bay and Murrays Bay, and the suburbs of Maitland, Kilnerton, Viljoensdrift and Sedgefield. It is located approximately 40 km to the north of Port Elizabeth on the N2 freeway on the Garden Route. These communities and suburbs are connected via the N2 freeway, which passes through the centre of the town.

Jeffreys Bay, also referred to as Jeffbos as a nickname for the area, is situated on the banks of Baakens River mouth. The town was established in 1875 as a whaling community. The Baakens River mouth provided the perfect location for whaling as it produced great numbers of whales, which could be processed without expensive equipment. The whales could also be washed ashore after processing with little effort required to render the whale blubber into oil. The river mouth and coastline provided a smooth, level and flat area for the processing station, storage tanks and wharf. The river mouth was also safe from erosional forces and provided easy ingress for the whales. This site was used for processing whales for over 50 years until the whaling industry ceased in 1951.

Addo Elephant National Park

This is home to the famous Addo Elephant. There are two campsites but no lodges. The Addo Elephant takes center stage and has plenty of spots for viewing the elephants including a grassy viewing area. Campsites are found in the spectacular Addo National Park, which is known for its expansive and arid plains. Here, you will see the majestic canopies of regal tree trees as the wild Elephants roam.