Welcome to South Africa.
The Eastern Cape South Africa. Where else can you surf the worlds biggest waves, ski down the only snow slopes in Africa, go on a `big seven safari, visit the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and bungee the highest bridge in the southern hemisphere? The Eastern Cape, of course!
The second largest of South Africa’s nine provinces, the diverse Eastern Cape landscape ranges from the dry desolate Great Karoo to the steamy forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley. The area also embraces the fertile Langkloof, renowned for its rich apple harvests, and is cradled by the mountainous southern Drakensberg.
Here, widespread hills are juxtaposed with sandy beaches; here small-town South Africa comes to greet you – gently offering hospitality and friendship and asking for nothing in return. This is where the `big seven’ roam, and where the tropical forests share their space with abundant birdlife and nature at its most generous.
The shoreline of this province extends from the Umtamvuna River in KwaZulu-Natal, to the Storms River mouth on the scenic Garden Route, in the west, and stretching inland, to the north, bordering on Lesotho. Today, the Eastern Cape incorporates the previously independent `homelands’ of the Ciskei and Transkei. Despite its colonial past, the Eastern Cape remains the home of the Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa. With its almost seven million people, the Eastern Cape has the third-largest provincial population, living on about 169 600 km2 of land.
The Eastern Cape climate varies considerably but has, a year-round holiday climate. The Eastern coastal regions enjoy hot summers and moderate winters and Port Elizabeth experiences a daily average of 7 hours sunshine. Northern regions are much cooler. Certain areas receive rain throughout the year albeit erratic.
Major attractions in the area:
Nelson Mandela Museum
The museum was officially opened on the 11 February 2000, at a function to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela in 1990. The birthplace/museum is situated at Qunu, along the N2 highway, south of Umtata.
Addo Elephant Park
Situated 73km from Port Elizabeth, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, the park is a true conservation success story.
Valley of Desolation
The product of volcanic and erosive forces of nature over 100 million years, the Valley of Desolation is one of the most spectacular sights in the country. A steep and narrow road leads into the mountains that surround the valley – a journey not to be dared by the faint-hearted.
Grahamstown National Arts Festival
Africa’s largest and most colorful cultural event takes place, annually, in this University town, offering a choice of the very best of both indigenous and imported talents.
Hole in the wall
Just south of Coffee Bay, on the eastern seaboard, is a prominent rock formation with a big hole in the centre. This distinctive site has become a symbol for the Xhosa in remembrance of a great historical tragedy – the “Great Cattle Killing”. The unique structure with a huge detached cliff that has a giant opening carved through its centre by the waves. The local Xhosa call this place “izi Khaleni”, which means “place of thunder”.