The Coastal Route highlights the Eastern Cape’s well known and iconic attractions such as the Mkhambati Nature Reserve, the Addo Elephant National Park and the province’s amazing beaches and surfing spots, but it also takes you to some undiscovered places of natural beauty.
For sand dune enthusiasts, the 6,500 year old Coastal Dune Field found at Alexandria is the largest shifting dune field in the Southern Hemisphere and has been nominated for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you are interested in history and culture, the Eastern Cape is the cultural hub of the Xhosa people. A trip to the Wild Coast region offers you the chance to visit the birthplace of South Africa’s first democratically elected leader, Nelson Mandela, at Qunu; while the town of Mthatha has a museum dedicated to this great world icon. The area is also home to many of South Africa’s struggle leaders and veterans such as Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu.
You can view ancient man-made fish traps at Cape St Frances; experience Grahamstown, a small city boasting fine Georgian and Victorian architecture and over 70 heritage sites including a cathedral and spend time visiting the final resting place of Sarah (Saartjie) Baartman the “Hottentot Venus” in Hankey.
At Tsitsikamma adrenalin junkies can take the leap and do the highest bungee jump in the world, take a treetop canopy tour or go black water tubing. Other highlights along the Route include Jeffrey’s Bay, home of the best right-hand wave in the world; Port Elizabeth, a water sport paradise offering every conceivable coastal and marine recreational experience one could think of, including the added thrill of deep-sea diving to explore a few of the 300 ships wrecked in nearby Algoa Bay. There are six blue flag beaches along the coastal route including the world-renowned kite-surfing spot at Cannon Rocks.
For those who like their thrills a little more sedate, you can spend a few days at one of the many 5-star game lodges, play golf, go fishing, relax at a spa or take a river cruise. Taste buds will be indulged at the many eateries in the province. From “fast food” to 5 Star, every town and hamlet from East London to Port Elizabeth and beyond has something tasty to offer. Sip mead in Grahamstown, sample traditional Xhosa cooking along the Wild Coast or mouth-watering venison at the many game lodges near Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea. The Eastern Cape has it all.
For wild and pristine beauty with the best beaches in the world offering waterfalls flowing into the sea, the Wild Coast is an explorer’s paradise. And the local annual sardine run rivals the famous Masai Mara wildebeest migration in East Africa – only it’s underwater!
The Baviaans Wilderness Area is an extension of the Cape Floral Kingdom and has been declared a World Heritage Site. Addo Elephant National Park abutting the Indian Ocean is the only protected area in the world where not only the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) may be seen but also whales and Great White sharks.