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Top 10 Things To Do in Eastern Cape

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Looking for things to do in the Eastern Cape? We’ve got you covered with these Top 10 Eartern Cape hotspots for a beautiful and fun time. Check it out!

1. Addo Elephant National Park

If you have ever been to a game park and been disappointed by shy animals, fear not. You will be bored of elephants by the time you drive out of Addo Elephant Park, if that is even possible. You will definitely see elephants and lots of other animals like warthogs, wildebeest, giraffes and a variety of antelopes. It is a self-drive but the roads are mostly in good condition for a polo or any cheapie hired car to handle, as long as there hasn’t been heavy rain.

There is the option to go along with a guided drive, do a horse-back trail or guided walk, and stay in a lodge or camp. Make sure to book ahead.

Addo is situated 110km or a 1hr and 40 mins drive away from Grahamstown, and 75km and 1hour 20 minutes away from Port Elizabeth.

2. Away with the Fairies Backpackers, Hogsback

It may sound like a strange thing to highlight, but the Away with the Fairies backpackers has a treehouse and an open-air bathtub on the edge of a cliff overlooking a breath-taking valley. The bath has functioning plumbing so you and a lover can have a romantic soak while enjoying the view or the stars. This is a privilege only afforded to those staying at the backpackers, so it’s worth a visit. The place has a fantastic vibe, with a bonfire every night and a great community spirit. It’s also situated right near the edge of what is the closest SA’s is going to get to a rainforest. This has some great hiking trails, waterfalls, and more wonderful views.

3. Grahamstown National Arts Festival

“Fest” as locals call it runs during the second week of the Rhodes June/July vacation. The first week is Schools’ Fest and the second week is the Arts Festival itself. Fest is famous for drama, art exhibitions, comedy, film, lectures, workshops, good food and unusual handcrafted knickknacks. It is the largest celebration of arts in Africa and was previously an important space for anti-apartheid theatre. Fest remains a celebration of diversity and multiculturalism.

If you’re planning on heading this way, make sure to pack your thermal underwear, gumboots and double the money that you anticipate you’ll spend. Residences are available for reasonably-priced accommodation, but book early. There are lots of backpackers and pop-up B&Bs for reasonable prices, but again, book early.

4. Storms River Suspension Bridge

The bridge is situated in the Tsitsikamma National Park along the Garden Route. It is 170km or a 1 hour 40 minute drive from Port Elizabeth, or 45 minutes from Plett.  The bridge is actually a series of bridges and is architecturally very beautifully and quite novel to cross. There are a number of short or longer hikes you can do using the bridges as a starting point, so wear good shoes and bring your swimming costume and a picnic. The hikes are shaded by protected trees and wind through well-constructed pathways with little snatches of sea view. It’s quite a surreal mix between rainforest and ocean.

5. Shamwari Game Reserve

If you are looking for the ultimate in luxury game-lodge experience, Shamwari is it. The food is spectacular, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and nothing is too much trouble. You really do get what you pay for.  The lodges are incredibly well positioned, and most are positioned above pans so in the afternoons large herds of elephant gather to drink and socialise. The trackers and guides are highly experienced so you are likely to see a lot of the big 5 regardless of whether you have a short stay. The buffalo are a prized TB-free herd and are kept separately from the rest of the animals, so you will definitely see these.

There are a number of camps, each with a different theme. Some used to be homes, so you get that sort of feel. The one I would recommend for the most authentic ‘safari’ feel  is Bayethe, where each unit is like a large luxury canvas house-tent with wooden floors, its own open-plan bathroom and individual swimming pool. It sounds hard to imagine, but it’s incredible.

Situated 85km or 1h20 mins from Port Elizabeth, and 1 hour 15 minutes or 65km from Grahamstown.

If this is a bit steep you can consider doing an Amakhlala Day Safari instead, which also includes a river tour.

6. Morgan Bay Beach 

The beautiful mile-long beach is a classic Eastern Cape beach and is often misty and has a few cows wondering along it. If you go early morning, you can be the only person on the beach. It is close to the Kei River and has a peaceful lagoon to swim in. The beach is surrounded by beautiful greenery. Lunch at the Morgan Bay Hotel is not to be missed. You can walk there straight off the beach and the vibe is very relaxed, just be sure to book ahead. If you are a beach love you could also pay a visit to the Jeffrey’s Bay Learn 2 Surf School and learn a new skill.

7. Tsitsikamma canopy tour

The canopy tour takes places in the gorgeous Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest. You are attached to a harness and go along a series of zip lines like a foofy slide between platforms are built around giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees that are up to 700 years old. You are quite high up from the group, at some points below the tree canopy and at some points above it. The zip line is silent so you get to witness birdlife and hear the sounds of the forest. Some of the zip lines can get up to quite a speed if you choose, so it can also be an adrenaline rush.  It is situated 45 minutes from Plett and 1h and 30 mins from Port Elizabeth.

8. Outeniqua Hiking Trail

Situated along the Garden Route, the scenic Outeniqua hiking trail is one frequented by travellers from all around the world. It takes 7 days to complete and is 108km in total. The shortest day is 12km and the longest is 17km. The route ranges from easy to difficult but you need to be reasonably fit to complete it. There are huts to stay in along the way. You need to carry your own food, but there are some places to eat too.

9. Bloukrans Bungy Jump

The world’s highest bungee jump, 216m. Situated along the Garden Route on the border between the Eastern and Western Cape. It is possible to make the trip from Port Elizabeth in a day. Check out Face Adrenaline Bungy.

10. The Valley of Desolation, Graaff-Reinet

Situated in the Camdeboo National Park in the Eastern Cape, this national monument is often called ‘The Cathedral of the Mountains’. This breathtaking landscape of piled dolomite columns set within the sweeping plains of the open Karoo is the result of volcanic activity and erosive forces of over a period of 100 million years. The joined columns reach heights of between 90 and 120m. The Valley of Desolation was declared a National Monument of geological and scenic significance in 1939. The highest peak is lies to the North, in the Sneeuberg mountain range – Compassberg (2504m). The Crag Lizard Trail begins in the parking area and I about 1,5km long. It goes along all the Valley view points and is roughly a 45-minute walk. The trail is well-marked. 

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If you are heading to the Eastern Cape during the winter months, be sure to pack heaps of warm clothes. It gets freezing cold there – no jokes. Sometimes you don’t have running taps until the frozen water warms up![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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