All you need to know Eastern Cape
Cox & Kings’ Africa expert Louise Stanion shares her tips on exploring the South African province of Eastern Cape.
LOCATION: The Eastern Cape is a South African province with a shoreline along the southern Indian Ocean. In the northeast it borders Lesotho, and domestically it borders the provinces of the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Kwazulu-Natal. LANGUAGES English is widely-spoken in South Africa, though 78% of the population in the Eastern Cape speak Xhosa, while Afrikaans is spoken by 11%.
POPULATION: 6.5 million.
TIME ZONE GMT: + 1 hour.
CURRENCY: South African Rand (ZAR / R) £1 = R15.8.
VISAS: A visa is not required for British passport holders.
POTTED HISTORY: The Eastern Cape was formed in 1994 out of the independent Xhosa homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province. Landing place and home of the 1820 settlers, the central and eastern part of the province is the traditional home of the Xhosa people. This region is the birthplace of many prominent South African politicians such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo,Walter Sisulu, Thabo Mbeki and Steve Biko.
If you are interested in getting right off the beaten track, consider Samara Private Game Reserve in the Karoo with its sweeping Serengeti-like views. The area is great for tracking cheetah on foot.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
WHEN TO GO
The Eastern Cape’s climate is highly varied due to its large size and varied topography. The most popular time of year to travel to the region is between September and March when temperatures are mild and the rainfall is lower than at other times of the year.
WHAT TO READ
Long Walk to Freedom
by Nelson Mandela
This autobiographical work profiles Mandela’s early life in the Eastern Cape, his coming of age, education and 27 years in prison.
by Marguerite Poland
This historical novel revolves around a family, the Farboroughs, who lived in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in the early 1900s. The story follows Walter Brownley, explaining what life was like in South Africa just before the first Boer War.
The Story of an African Farm
by Olive Schreiner
Set in the middle-late 19th century, this novel details the lives of three characters, first as children and then as adults who live on a farm in the Karoo region of South Africa.
FIND OUT MORE
Dedicated tourism website for the Eastern Cape.
Guests of Shamwari are able to visit two big cat sanctuaries that are part of the Born Free Foundation set up in partnership with actress / conservationist Virginia McKenna.
WHERE TO STAY
The Sands, St Francis Bay
On the ocean’s edge, The Sands is an impressive white-walled thatched roof homestead with five spacious and luxurious bedrooms offering sweeping views of the beach and ocean.
Ecca Lodge, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Modern, innovative and stylish, Ecca Lodge is a boutique-style safari lodge with stunning views over an acacia-studded valley, spacious rooms and private plunge pools.
WHAT TO EAT
Try Potjiekos, a traditional Afrikaans stew, made with meat and vegetables and cooked over coals in cast-iron pots.
THROUGH A WRITER’S EYES
“Here in this land, where nature unconfined taunts the great desert of the human mind.”
Roy Campbell, The Golden Shower, 1926
SET YOUR COMPASS
Tsitsikamma National Park is a coastal reserve with impressive indigenous forests, a dramatic coastline, and the Otter Trail. The area around Stormsriver Bridge and the Big Tree has some beautiful scenery as well as the famous suspension bridge.
St Francis Bay is a prosperous collection of whitewashed and thatched holiday homes bounded by a series of canals and the Krom River. It is popular with shell collectors who come in search of rare Indo-Pacific shells.
Addo Elephant Park This finely tuned ecosystem is a sanctuary to more than 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, lion, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle.
Amakhala Game Reserve Amakhala is a unique conservation initiative that allows animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely. The 5,000-hectare wildlife reserve creates an ideal environment for an unforgettable safari backed by breathtaking views of the Bushman’s River.
East Chintsa The quaint seaside village of Chintsa serves as the southern gateway to South Africa’s Wild Coast with long unspoilt sandy beaches, shrub-studded dunes and undeveloped estuaries.
TRAVEL WITH COX & KINGS
Wildlife of the Cape – 14 Days / 11 Nights from £3,365 per person.
Travel through the Western & Eastern Cape Provinces visiting some of the most spectacular wildlife and nature reserves.