Exploring the Eastern Cape


Exploring EC_Blog Header_May 2022Want to take a trip or go on a holiday in our beautiful country? The Eastern Cape offers everything from the adrenaline-inducing highest bungee jump (at 216m) in the world from the  Bloukrans Bridge (forming the border between the Eastern and Western Cape) to the majestic elephants in the Addo Elephant National Park. There are so many adventures awaiting you and in any of our Suzukis it is set to be a breeze!

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 35 seconds.

 

The Eastern Cape is home to an array of informal seaside escapes and reserves that are home to some of the Big Five and in some instances, even the Big Seven! Whether you’re travelling for a romantic getaway or a family trip, the province offers a wide variety of fun-filled and adventurous places to spend the weekend. We’ve put together a list of our favourite retreats in this majestic province.

Baviaans beauty

If you have a vehicle that won’t moan and groan too much going off-road–in the Jimny you will have none of this, of course–head to Baviaans. You will be transported to an area surrounded by an unspoilt wilderness of narrowing gorges, wildlife, tranquil streams, and spectacular landscapes. Visitors can enter the valley from Willomore or Patensie and while the Baviaanskloof is just under 200km, the road can take up to eight hours to complete. Not that anyone is complaining when nature offers so much beauty and some exciting passes to put your driving skills to the test. Staying over in the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve is highly recommended; there are camp sites, high-end lodges, guest farms, cottages and, if you really want to stay in a unique place, try the accommodation in the Makkedaat cave or stay in the Speekhout treehouse.

Hogsback heaven

Green, lush indigenous forest, dozens of waterfalls, Samango monkeys, mountains, morning mist, moss carpets and moonshine… Sounds magical, right? Then Hogsback in the Amathole district is a must-visit spot in the Eastern Cape. If you’ve heard fables of Green Madonnas and Blue Cypresses, this is where that magic stems from! Apart from incredible natural beauty, this birders paradise offers a wide array of activities including hiking, biking, and horse-back riding with numerous art studios to visit and local eateries. The area is particularly popular for mountain bikers, with routes including gravel roads and singletrack routes through forests, plantations, and open grassland.

Lovely Langkloof

Known as the fruit route of South Africa, lying just behind the towering Tsitsikamma Mountains is the Langkloof. The Langkloof is a stretch of more than 160km of varied terrain (including some gravel 4×4 routes along the way for those wanting to put the Jimny to the test) and includes towns like Joubertina, Twee Riviere, Louterwater, Misgund and Kareedouw. The road–dotted with proteas in all shapes in sizes–offers a true country escape, with numerous unique farm stalls and interesting eateries along the way. Additionally, Langkloof forms part of Route 62, the longest wine route in the world.

Explore from the windy city

A mere 40 minute drive from the city of Qqerberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth), you will be enthralled with the one of the province’s lesser known spots, the truly hidden Groendal Nature Reserve, stretching over 30 000 hectares of pristine wilderness with rugged mountains, deep valleys, and crystal clear pools. Here the Blindekloof hiking trail can keep you busy for a day if you want to sleep in a comfortable hotel in the city or it can keep you busy for more than a day if you want to be adventurous and sleep in a cave.

About 72 kilometers north of the windy city, you will find the Addo Elephant National Park. This is South Africa’s third largest national park, founded in 1931 to save the last 11 South African bush elephants from extinction. Today it provides a habitat for more than 600 elephants, as well as a host of other fascinating creatures.

Stretching from the Karoo to the coast, the park also includes offshore islands, which are home to important breeding populations of Cape gannets and African penguins. Thanks to its diversity of ecosystems, the park’s claim to fame is that it’s the only national park in the world to protect the Big 7–the well-known Big 5 as well as the great white shark and southern right whale.

While a day trip is possible, you’d want to spend more time here so plan accordingly!

Go coastal at Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay’s dramatic landscapes, cliffs, a beautiful coastline, nature, and warm water have the power to keep you on a high for days. This little spot of paradise on the Wild Coast is perfect for anyone wanting to escape the city, get back to the basics, and experience a more rural part of South Africa where cattle roam the beaches and mud huts cover the hills. This bucket list destination offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, birding, a visit to the impressive Hole in the Wall, surfing, and visiting the Mapuzi Caves. The best way to explore this rugged and remote region is by 4WD vehicle (the Jimny took all of it in its stride, never complaining), but adventurous travellers can also hike along walking tracks connecting the local villages or explore the area on horseback. Birding is also fantastic with more than 320 species recorded in the region.

Blissful Bedford

The small town with the green soul, Bedford, is known as the green heart of the Eastern Cape Midlands. The annual garden festival takes place in October, when its unique roses at the Rosarium and other flowers all around residents’ gardens  are in full bloom. It’s a stunning sight!

But it’s the people and sense of community in Bedford that will stay with you long after your visit. Buying local produce is their motto, connecting with others is their passion, and welcoming you to their town is a given. Here everyone works together to improve themselves and their little town through community projects such as mass recycling done at Eaglehout and the vegetable garden projects.

Karoo hospitality

We all know the Great Karoo hotspots, but if you’re into a Karoo retreat be sure to take some time and check out the small town of Steytlerville, only 160km from Gqeberha. This little gem personifies typical Karoo hospitality where people will still say “It’s on the house–you’re in the Karoo now”.  When visiting this special little town, make sure to catch the cabaret show, Steytlerville Follies show, at the Karoo Theatrical Hotel, visit Lizzy’s Khaya for some home-cooked meals, and the Verandah Coffee Shop where a classic car collection, complete with memorabilia, hides in the backyard.

In the Camdeboo National Park, which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, the Valley of Desolation is one of the most striking natural features in the Eastern Cape. The access road climbs to 1 500 metres and ends at a parking area with well-maintained footpaths to panoramic viewpoints along the steep cliff face. Here, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of towering dolomite rock pillars and the surrounding countryside where the shifting light plays upon the sweeping landscapes. To the south lies the semi-desert landscapes of the Great Karoo; to the east, Graaff-Reinet; and to the north, the distinctive peaks of the Sneeuberg Mountains.

The nearby town of Graaff-Reinet is also worth a visit for its restored Karoo-style homes and historic buildings, while the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda, about 50 kilometers away, is also a must-visit. Here, in the heart of the great Karoo, you will find the Owl House–a quirky little museum that draws in thousands of visitors to the small village each year who come to see the work of eccentric sculptor and recluse, Helen Martins.

The Storms River

Along the famous Garden Route, a 200km-plus scenic drive, which stretches from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape, the Storms River Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular attractions in Tsitsikamma National Park, a spectacular coastal reserve that is now part of Garden Route National Park.

The 77m-long bridge spans the foaming, froth-topped waters of the Storms River mouth, which swirl and splash less than seven meters below the bridge as they merge with the Indian Ocean. Standing on the bridge, visitors feel as though they are floating above the thrashing sea. To access the bridge, visitors hike through 900 meters of beautiful bird-rich forests with waterfalls and plenty of lookout points where you can stop and rest while admiring the sea views. Two smaller suspension bridges lead hikers back to the pathway for their return journey.

If you want to dabble in more adventure, you can enjoy a two-and-a-half-hour kayak and lilo trip up the Storms River Gorge, exploring the bottomless pools, deep caves, and ancient indigenous forests.

The Ben 10 Passes

If you have not had your fill of natural beauty at this stage, the Ben 10 Passes gives you ample opportunity to explore rural Eastern Cape around the Victorian Rhodes Village–a perfect weekend activity to test your Jimny’s capabilities.  The 10 high altitude passes in the Eastern Cape highlands include Lundeans Nek (2 170m), Carlisleshoekspruit (2 563m), Ben MacDhui Pass (3 001m), Naudes Nek Pass (2 590m), TT Pass Tenahead – Tiffendell (2 720m), Volunteers Pass (2 581m), Barkly Pass (2 018m), Otto du Plessis (2 115m), Jouberts Pass (2 234m) and Bastervoetpad Pass (2 240m).

If we have learnt one thing putting these getaways together for you is that we live in the most diverse and beautiful country in the world. Take the time to discover the gems in your own backyard. To make the most of your road trip, remember to download our guide: The ultimate guide to planning a holiday road trip | Suzuki

 

The Eastern Cape–incredibly beautiful landscapes and pristine coast lines, filled with adventures! Why not book a test drive in one of the Suzuki family members and head out to explore!

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