Regarded as South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of beach, bush and forest with a wealth of thriving flora and fauna, including the Big Five, namely lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard.
Additionally, this is a malaria-free zone, making it a fabulous safari destination for the whole family. Guided game drives at each of our featured private game reserves fulfil the thrill of viewing a large variety of magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
If you are keen to see elephants then make a beeline for Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa’s third largest national reserve. Established in 1931 to save 11 elephants, the park now has over 600 of them. Just over an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, in the Sunday’s River Valley, Addo can also exclusively claim to be the world’s only national park to conserve the Big Seven - the aforementioned Big Five as well as the Southern Right whale and great white shark off the Algoa Bay Coast.
Within the Eastern Cape, is the Wild Coast, a region of untamed wilderness with rugged beaches, secluded bays, remarkable rock formations and green hills that rush headlong into deeply etched river valleys. This is also the Xhosa tribal heartland with thatched huts dotted across the gently rolling hills, and the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. Visit the fascinating Nelson Mandela Museum at Qunu for an inspiring journey through his life.
Further regional insights can be found in Grahamstown, a melting pot of the many and varied cultures that have met and mingled here over the last 200 years. With more than
70 heritage sites, Grahamstown offers the largest collection of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the country. The town is also renowned for the annual National Arts Festival, the biggest celebration of the arts on the African continent.
In the Eastern Cape’s northwest is the Karoo, a stirring landscape of flat-topped mountains and arid plains stretching for hundreds of miles. Once regarded as good for little other than sheep and ostriches, in recent years it has become distinctively hip as creative urbanites have established galleries, design studios and imaginative restaurants.
GMT +2 hours
South African Rand
Port Elizabeth is the main city in the region and while there are no non-stop flights from the UK, there are flights available from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Many also choose to drive via the Garden Route to the Eastern Cape.
Coastal cities have a subtropical and Mediterranean climate while inland the conditions are usually drier and hotter with lower levels of rainfall than at the coast. Temperatures are seldom extreme with summer temperatures ranging from 16-26ºC and winter 7-20ºC.
South Africa has relaxed its requirements for travelling with children under the age of 18. Visa exempt children (including UK Nationals visiting for tourism purposes) entering South Africa accompanied by an adult are required to present only a valid passport on arrival, regardless of whether the child is travelling with both parents, one parent, or an adult who is not a biological parent.
There are other requirements for children travelling unaccompanied. For more information, contact the South African High Commission www.southafricahouseuk.com or the South African Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za.
Visit sites in 'Old Port Elizabeth' and combine the story with the early Khoi Khoi History, the Dutch Farmers, the Free Cape Malay Slaves, the 1820 Settlers, Mr Mandela's Art and Heritage Route 67. Drive to the Campanile, the official start of Route 67, then continue to the Town Hall and walk around to see various sites that connect Route 67. Travel onwards to Donkin Reserve to experience more of the route's artworks and heritage sites before concluding at the Athenaeum. Available from Port Elizabeth.
This three hour tour begins at Bridge Street Brewery, home to South Africa's first Master Craft Brewer, Lex Mitchell. Here, you will enjoy a craft beer tasting followed by a light lunch. Afterwards, visit Richmond Hill Brewery and Gin Bar, home to Port Elizabeth's famous Amber Ale, the Car Park John. The tour concludes at the Dockside Brewery, an authentic Indie brewery where the focus is more on art and creativity than science and mass production. Available from Port Elizabeth.
Depart Port Elizabeth for Addo Elephant Park which, arguably, has the best elephant viewing in South Africa. In addition, Addo’s wildlife population also includes rhino, buffalo, antelope and lion, not to mention a plethora of birds to excite even the most blasé twitcher. From bee eaters to buffalo, this is a full day of what Africa does best, wildlife wonderfully!
This full day tour begins with an exciting boat trip to St Croix Island to see the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. During this cruise there is also a good chance of seeing bottlenose, common and humpback dolphins, Southern right, humpback and bryde's whales, Cape fur seals, sharks, and various seabirds. After the cruise visit Port Elizabeth's marine bird rehabilitation and education centre for a guided tour a tour. Available from Port Elizabeth.