Introducing Eastern Cape
From uninhabited desert expanses to lush tropical forests, from seriously easygoing hammock time to adrenalin-pumping adventures, the Eastern Cape offers up a wide range of topography and experiences. Compared to the much wealthier and more developed Western Cape, it can feel like a different country and provides an opportunity to gain familiarity with Xhosa culture. Some of the finest hiking trails wind their way along stunning coastlines and through mountainous, waterfall-filled landscapes.
Private wildlife reserves and national and regional parks abound; see the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) or migrating whales and dolphins. The imposing mountains and little-known valleys of the northeastern highlands are relatively unexplored. You’ll find stillness and tranquillity in the semiarid Karoo; seriously good surfing up and down the coast; and history (much of it bloody), including the legacy of some of the region’s famous sons – Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Steve Biko.
This region includes the western edge of the Eastern Cape coast, an extension of the well-travelled Garden Route and, for that reason, probably the most visited part of the province. Tsitsikamma National Park and Jeffrey’s Bay are deservedly well known but other lesser-known destinations like Cape St Francis and the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area are worthy of attention.