Encompassing some of South Africa’s most magnificent scenery, the Eastern Cape is one of the country’s nine provinces. It encompasses the Xhosa homelands of Transkei and Ciskei and was the birthplace of several prominent anti-apartheid leaders. While the inland town of Bhisho serves as the capital, the Eastern Cape’s largest settlements are the coastal cities of East London and Gqeberha.
Things to do in Eastern Cape
With its lively cities, beautiful scenic drives and exceptional wildlife adventures, the Eastern Cape is not to be missed.
Hike through the Valley of Desolation. Forming part of Camdeboo National Park, this spectacular valley features towering dolerite pillars and steep cliffs that offer sweeping views across the Karoo. Along the trails, keep your eyes peeled for Cape buffalos, kudus and springboks, together with a diverse array of birdlife. Combine your hike with a stop at the Cape Dutch-style Reinet House, which showcases antique furnishings and vintage dolls.
Drive the Wild Coast. Stretching to the north of East London, the Wild Coast takes in untamed beaches, craggy sea cliffs and lush, subtropical forests. You can spot wildlife in the Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve and marvel at the Hole in the Wall, a spectacular natural sea arch. In the offshore waters, you’ll find pristine reefs and historic shipwrecks waiting to be explored.
Visit Addo Elephant National Park. Established in 1931, Addo Elephant National Park extends from the Karoo to a cluster of offshore islands that provide habitat for Cape gannets and African penguins. It’s home to more than 600 elephants and is the only national park in the world where you can spot the “Big 7” (elephants, Cape buffalos, rhinos, lions, leopards, great white sharks and southern right whales). Thrilling game drives, horseback rides and guided hikes are all available.
Getting around Eastern Cape
Port Elizabeth International Airport is the main aviation gateway to the Eastern Cape and has flights to destinations across South Africa. Trains connect to major towns and cities throughout the province while buses serve destinations not on the rail network. Renting a car is the most convenient way of getting around.