Hotels in and around the Eastern Cape province
The Eastern Cape of South Africa is one known for its seaside charm and relaxed atmosphere. It is comprised of places such as Port Elizabeth, East London, the Karoo, Transkei, Tsitsikamma and some of the impressive Drakensberg Mountain Range. It is also home to the world-famous Garden Route, which extends (unofficially) all the way to Cape Town. The Eastern Cape boasts destinations that are as diverse as the environment that defines them. From the lush green valleys and mountains of the Transkei to the dry, flat expanses of the Karoo, the Eastern Cape makes for one of South Africa’s most varied and rewarding destinations.
The Eastern Cape was the area first inhabited by the 1820 Settlers. Before that, Xhosa tribes roamed its shorelines and mountains. As more settlers arrived, they drove the locals out of the area or into slavery. Eventually, the Ciskei and Transkei were declared Bantu homelands, kingdoms in their own rights. It was only in 1994, when Apartheid was done away with and the Rainbow Nation began its rehabilitation, that these homelands were incorporated back in to the rest of the country. Together with some of the province then known as the Cape, this area was renamed the Eastern Cape.
Because much of the Eastern Cape is made up of rural areas, some of the roads are gravel, others plagued by potholes. However, the national roads and those within urban cities and towns are generally well maintained and safe. When driving on national roads, be aware of animals and people at all times.
Within towns and cities, cabs are usually available. Tourists are advised not to use the minibus taxis, particularly if you are not familiar with the South Africans languages or cultures.
There are several airports within the Eastern Cape, the most notable of which is in Port Elizabeth, as well as one in George. The Port Elizabeth Airport is recognised as an international one, but is limited in terms of destinations. Therefore, most travellers will arrive in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town and drive or fly locally from there.
The Eastern Cape offers a wide array of things to do and places to visit. Less than 100km from Port Elizabeth is the Addo Elephant National Park, home to almost 500 African elephants, as well as lions, buck, rhinos, Cape Buffalos, warthogs and many bird species. Addo also provides beautiful accommodation, ranging from camping facilities to luxurious suites.
The Tsitsikamma National Park is between Nature’s Valley and Storms River along the Garden Route. This area presents visitors with some of the most beautiful vistas as the river runs through forests and gorges. The Bloukrans Bridge, the world’s highest bungee jump, is situated close to this park.
Tiffindell is a ski resort, the only one in the country, on the slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains. It makes for a stunning destination for honeymooners, backpackers, family tourists or business travellers.
Surfing enthusiasts will likely be familiar with Jeffrey’s Bay; one of the world’s top surfing destinations, and the host of the annual Billabong surfing competition. The rest of the town presents a laid-back, sleepy ambience with some friendly locals and fun hangouts.
The Wild Coast is an absolutely spectacular part of the Eastern Cape, and a viable destination on its own. This coastline is defined by its unspoilt natural appeal and expanses of beaches, met on the white sand my impressive mountains.
The Eastern Cape benefits from a particularly temperate climate. However, it also presents some areas in which the seasons are far more pronounced and dramatic (e.g. Grahamstown and Tsitsikamma). Summers are generally hot and winters are comfortably cool. The summer extends from December to March, and winter is from June to August. Summer temperatures in the Eastern Cape average a noonday high of about 30 degrees Celsius and winters drop to about 15 degrees Celsius during the day. In the areas that are located inland and, particularly on the mountains, snowy winters prove to be very chilly indeed.
The Eastern Cape is not an area that experiences malaria cases. However, visitors are advised to consult with a doctor or travel clinic regarding the rest of their travel itinerary, as some of the northern areas of the country, as well as the surrounding countries, may be susceptible to Malaria.
Always apply insect repellent and sunscreen when travelling anywhere in South Africa, regardless of the season. Because you are likely to be visiting the beaches in the Eastern Cape, be particularly aware of avoiding sun damage.
Bring your prescriptions for spectacles and medication with you to South Africa so that you can restock at a local pharmacy without having to consult with a doctor or hospital during your stay. Ensure that your tetanus shots are up-to-date as some areas in and around the towns are fraught with litter, including broken glass, cans and metal.
As with any destination the world over, there are some areas of the Eastern Cape that should be avoided. Consult your travel agent, some of the locals, or your hotel to ensure that you are aware of any areas to be avoided. In addition, do not walk around the city centre or tourist attractions carrying large amounts of cash or photographic / video equipment, and do not accept unwanted help from strangers. It is advisable that you stay in a group of people and do not stray off on your own. If you are travelling around by car, do not leave any valuables in the car.