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Eastern Cape

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Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape in South Africa.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Bhisho
Government South African Providence
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Area 168,966 km2
Population 6,620,100
Language Official: Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Sotho
Religion n/a
Electricity 220-240V/50HZ (South Africa plug)
Time Zone UTC +2

Eastern Cape, [9] is in South Africa and stretches along the Indian Ocean between Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.


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.


The Eastern Cape can be divided in the following regions:

RSA EasternCape2.png
Eastern portion of the Garden Route, the coastal region from St Francis in the east to the Western Cape in the west.
Langkloof (Route 62)
Sunshine Coast
The coastal region between East London in the north and St Francis in the south.
Karoo Heartland
The inland region bordering onto the Western Cape and rest of the Karoo in the Northern Cape.
Settler Country
The inland region bordering onto the Free State and Lesotho.
Wild Coast
The coastal region between KwaZulu-Natal in the north and East London in the south.


  • Bhisho - The capital of the Eastern Cape
  • East London - the second largest city is accessible by plane, car and train and is the starting point for traveling to the former Transkei and Wild Coast.
  • Graaff-Reinet - the capital of the Karoo desert and a national heritage site.
  • Grahamstown - heart of the Settler Country offering traditional atmosphere.
  • Mthatha (formerly called Umtata) - the main city in the former Transkei.
  • Port Elizabeth - the largest city in the province is connected to the rest of the country by flights, motorways and rail.

Other destinations[edit]

National parks[edit]

Other nature reserves[edit]

  • Commando Drift Nature Reserve, 60 km east from Cradock, [1].  edit
  • Dwesa and Cwebe Nature Reserve, dutywa, [2]. Two small reserves separated by the Mbashe River, next to the Indian Ocean near Elliotdale.  edit

Private game reserves[edit]

  • Kragga Kamma Game Park, [3].  edit
  • Seaview Game & Lion Park, +27 (0)42 378-1702, [4].  edit
  • Schotia Safaris Game Reserve, +27 (0)42 235-1436, [5]. Huge stock of game with free roaming lions. One gets the safari feeling here without paying through the nose. Ggame drive, meal and drink R600pp or staying overnight, with evening and morning drive, meals and drinks for R1200pp..  edit
  • Shamwari Game Reserve, +27 (0)42 203-1111, [6]. The most well-known and luxurious of the private game reserves in the Eastern Cape.  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, 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 ie 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 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 and cause some severe damage to you and your vehicle.

By plane[edit]

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 operates regular trains from Johannesburg to both 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 Port Elizabeth and East London to Johannesburg.

The Baz Bus traverses the province on its Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - Durban run ; 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][add listing]

  • 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 lion.
  • Mountain Zebra National Park - small, but only very few people there. See the endangered Mountain Zebras.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit the bustling cities of Port Elizabeth and East London
  • From there, head to the Wild Coast
  • Do the National Park loop with Tsitsikamma National Park, this and Addo is a must Addo Elephant National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park and go to Graaff-Reinet for classical Karoo atmosphere (and the Karoo National Park)
  • Tiffendell, southern Drakensberg, +27 (0)45 974-9004/5. South Africa is not well known as a ski destination, but if you do find yourself in South Africa during winter and would like to ski.  edit
  • Rock Climbing
  • Mkulu Kei Horse Trails (Cheradon), +27 (0)836327298, [7]. Mkulu Kei Horse Trails Cher-a-Don, is an award winning, owner-run horse trail company, established in 1998, that provides guided horse trekking vacations along the Wild Coast of South Africa. They offer equestrian holidays with a selection of well-trained horses to suit your equine adventure. Riding tours are available from +-2 hour beach rides in Morgan Bay, full day rides, as well as 2 to 12 day over night multi-day riding trails. Multi-day tours are flexible, where you hop from one hotel to the next, incorporating beach and in-land riding, giving you the chance to sample the beauty of this pristine coastline. The Wild Coast is a truly scenic experience and what better way to discover it than on horseback with stunning views and awesome riding in the beautiful, undeveloped area of the Transkei. See rural Xhosa villages, nature, birds, game, dolphins and whales en route. There are no predetermined trail dates so feel free to contact them with dates that suit your travel plans and they will make an itinerary for you. They also offer volunteer/career break/gap year opportunities for anyone who would like to take part in a working holiday. A warm welcome and an unforgettable equestrian experience await all visitors.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • 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][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The Garden Route is a major tourist destination with a broad range of accommodation in all ranges as is 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 an option.

  • The Golf Lodge B&B, 7 Martha Oosthuizen Street, Alexandria (Just off R 72 in Alexandria, next to the Golf Club), 046 653 0173, [8]. Friendly & helpful staff. R400 pp.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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