South African Holidays in Eastern Cape

Steve Biko statue in East London, Eastern Cape.

Capital: Bhisho
Provincial population: 6.3 million
Area: 169 580 kmē
Percentage of GDP produced in Eastern Cape: 13.3 %
Principal economic sectors: Motor vehicles

The Eastern Cape was formed in 1994 out of the 'independent' homelands of Ciskei and Transkei, as well as the eastern portion of the Cape Province. Bhisho is the capital city of the Eastern Cape, with other major cities being Port Elizabeth and East London.

The Eastern Cape is the traditional home of the Xhosa people, and the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Steve Bhiko. Whether you are looking for an atmospheric holiday getaway by the sea, a safari in Big Five country, or a world class experience in the city, the Eastern Cape will be able to offer you just that, and more.

The Eastern Cape is a diverse province, from the lush forests of Tsitsikamma and the rugged slopes of the Drakensberg, to the scenic beauty of the Garden Route and the pristine beaches of the coast.

The Eastern Cape is home to sweeping sand, rocky cliffs, lush valleys, craggy mountains, not to mention a unspoiled coastline and a paradise for water sport enthusiasts. Here, surfers get to ride the perfect wave, anglers get to reel in a trophy fish, and sailors take advantage of the challenging wind.

The Eastern Cape is a tourist haven, with many world renowned attractions taking pride of place. The Addo Elephant Park is situated 73 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, and offers a safe, peaceful sanctuary for over 200 Elephant, the last Cape Buffalo, and 21 endangered Black Rhino.

Tiffindell is South Africa's one and only ski resort and is situated near the hamlet of Rhodes in the southern Drakensberg, on the slopes of the highest mountain peak in the Eastern Cape, situated at 3001 metres.

Grahamstown, a charming town in the Eastern Cape is home to the National Arts Festival, Africa's largest and most vibrant cultural event. Offering a host of local and international talent, this little town almost doubles in population for the 11 days of the festival. 50 000 people flock to Grahamstown each year to view the range of arts, crafts and entertainment on display.

The Tsitsikamma National Park is an 80 kilometre coastal haven, situated between Nature's Valley and Storms River. The park offers a lush, undisturbed and unspoilt natural sanctuary, with glorious views and untouched landscapes. The Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jump in the world, is situated close to the Park.

Finally, Jeffery's Bay, a surfer's paradise and home to some of the country's wildest coastline. This area is famous for its surfing and supertubes, and it's relaxed and holiday atmosphere. Jeffrey's Bay is also a sought after area, inhabited by Eastern Cape's wealthiest set.

Port Elizabeth:

Port Elizabeth is beautifully set on the shores of Algoa Bay and is affectionately referred to as the 'Friendly City'. Port Elizabeth is the fifth largest city in South Africa, gently nestled on the coast between Cape Town and Durban. Port Elizabeth is a popular leisure resort, with the summer bringing hordes of sun worshippers to this quaint city.

With a pleasant climate, and friendly locals to match, Port Elizabeth has definitely lived up to its name. Port Elizabeth boasts more sunshine than any other coastal town in the country. The beaches are a hub of activity, filled with holiday makers, offering excellent conditions for surfing, sailing, swimming, diving and angling.

Port Elizabeth is, however, not just about its beaches. it is a bustling, vibrant and thriving city, and home to numerous parks, botanical gardens and nature reserves. Port Elizabeth is the commercial, industrial and educational heart of Eastern Cape, with a host of shops, parks, theatres, restaurants and museums.

East London:

East London is South Africa's only river port city, and is set on the broad Buffalo River. East London offers sweeping beaches, ideal for sailing, swimming, water skiing and boating, to be enjoyed all year round. East London has a population of about 250 000 residents, with over 700 000 in the metropolitan area.

The motor industry is dominant in East London, with a DaimerChrysler plant located close to the harbour, manufacturing Mercedes-Benz vehicles for the local and international markets, including UK, Australia and Japan.

Though quite small, East London is a great place for tourist looking for the sea and sun, without the regular rush of holidaymakers. East London is also the ideal destination from which to explore the north eastern mountains and the Wild Coast. Enjoy the sun, sea and surf during the day, and, when the sun sets, enjoy the many cinemas, theatres and restaurants this city has to offer.

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