Eastern Cape province opens its boarders and welcomes tourists to fall in love with warm, friendly and beautiful province
By Neo Mcinga
The Eastern Cape is the second largest of South Africa’s provinces and has the greatest diversity of environments, cultural attractions and outdoor activities.
Once considered the frontier between the British colony at the Cape and the land of the Xhosa people – it was the scene of many bloody battles.
The capital of the province is Bisho, however, the most economically important cities are Qheberha (Port Elizabeth0 and East London. As a traveller, the urban areas most worth visiting are (Qheberha) Port Elizabeth, with its wonderful beaches, great cultural attractions, excellent hotels and the smaller centers of Grahamstown, Graaff Reinet and Cradock for their lovely old buildings and interesting museums.
Here are some breath-taking sites to visit.
Graaff-Reinet Valley of Desolation
Sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of Dolerite rise 120 metres from the valley floor, against the timeless backdrop of the vast plains of the Camdeboo.
This is the product of volcanic and erosive forces of nature over 100 million years. Located in the Camdeboo National Park in South Africa’s fourth oldest town, Graaff-Reinet.
This geological phenomenon contributes to the unique Karoo landscape and ecosystem that surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, creating a type of oasis in the midst of the aridness of the Karoo.
Graaff-Reinet is without a doubt worth a visit just for the charmingly restored Karoo-style homes and the historical buildings.
Gqeberha – Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth is the third-largest port and fifth largest city in South Africa. Located on the shores of Algoa Bay, called Bahia de Lagoa (bay of the lagoon) by the Portuguese because of the small lagoon situated at the mouth of the Swartskop River.
Port Elizabeth was founded in 1799 when the British built Ford Fredrick on a low rise overlooking the bay.
Aside from its Blue Flag accreditation, this bay puts South Africa on the map as it is the first country outside Europe to win this international award.
The Blue Flag is an international award given only to those beaches that meet excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.
There are other magnificent golden beaches to visit such as King’s Beach, famous for its golden sand extending from the Harbour wall of Humewood and stretches 16 kilometres.
This beach is ideal for swimming, water sports and sunbathing. This beach is a perfect holiday destination for the family to enjoy.
Another popular holiday beach is Hobie Beach which is in the vicinity of the Shark Rock Pier and the Boardwalk, the venue for the annual “Splash Festival”.
Due to Covid19 and the national lockdown, festivals such as the Splash festival to name a few, have been canceled and some permanently shut down with very little hope of ever reopening again.
So, enjoy the Eastern Cape – visit these beaches for your outdoor adventure and water sports
- The “Northern beaches” – New Brighton Beach, a large unspoilt beach located just before Bluewater Bay.
- Flat Water River Windsurfing and “Wild Side” Windsurfing – situated on the Swartkops River, is the ideal site for flat-water conditions.
- Hobie Beach – Situated just off Marine Drive. This location is ideal for sailing
- Noordhoek – Closely located near Hobie Beach on Marine Drive, this beach is exposed to ocean swells and is ideal for windsurfers.
Miles of golden beaches and spectacular marine life, Gqeberha and its deep-sea efforts in conserving marine life, is also a great destination for connecting with nature. Enjoy a leisurely boat cruise past the beautiful beaches of Humewood and Summerstrand.
Giving you a unique perspective of Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) as it heads along to the Cape Recife lighthouse and nature reserve.
Kari Voice News recommends Raggy Charters to guide your beachfront boat cruises which are ideal for parties as well as private boat trips which can be personalised to suit your needs.
This recommendation comes after learning about their efforts in preserving marine life. Raggy Charters endeavours to clean up all of the plastic and other pollution along our beaches to minimise the amount of waste in the oceans.
Cradock – Town in the Great Karoo
A quiet town I must say. Cradock is situated in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
Cradock was founded in 1813 on the banks of the Great Fish River to cater for the migratory farmers who settled in this ruggedly beautiful area with its excellent grazing, abundant water and healthy climate.
Cradock is a thriving agricultural community that specialises in the production of wool, mohair and cattle farming.
As a tourism destination, one would think this town has nothing to offer as its surrounding landscape resembles that of deserted dry and lifeless scenes from an American Cowboy movie.
Surprisingly this town is filled with history, heritage and heroic acts by struggle heroes.
Cradock is the principal town of the Karoo Heartland Route and an important agricultural centre, Cradock boasts fine architecture and several important monuments and museums.
Here are tourist activities to enjoy in this Eastern Frontier of the early 1800’s Town – Cradock
A guided drive or walk provides the ideal opportunity to get to know the park on foot or in a safari vehicle with a qualified and knowledgeable guide.
Mountain Zebra National Park also provides the unique opportunity of tracking a wild cheetah with the chance to observe these cats in their natural habitat.
When visiting this national park you can also explore the park at your leisure in your private vehicle on almost 70km of tourist roads. Roads are mostly gravel but of a good standard and suitable for all vehicles.
Here are 5 things you can do in and around Cradock:
- Mountain Zebra National Park
- Museums – Schreiner House Museum and Fish River Museum
- Cradock Four Monument
- Graveyard Tour
- San (Bushmen) Etching and Paintings
These three towns are but a few of many tourist destinations you can enjoy in the friendly province of the Eastern Cape. As the province gears up to recover after the devastation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko emphasized that an amount of R42.9 million has been injected into the tourism value chain in the 2021-2022 financial year through the provincial economic stimulus fund to improve reserves infrastructure such as the one in Cradock. These efforts along with other similar initiatives since 2018 have been implemented to ensure that visitors to the Eastern Cape experience a lifetime experience that will make visitors “Fall in love” with the Eastern Cape Province.