Eastern Cape - South Africa

Eastern Cape

Addo Elephant National Park

Situated 73km from Port Elizabeth in South Africa's Eastern Cape, the conservation success story of this park is world famous. Since its proclamation in 1931, the last eleven elephants in that region have bred to number 170. Its 11718 ha also offers sanctuary to the last Cape buffalo and 21 black rhino of the very scarce Kenyan sub-species. Also notable is the unique flightless dung-beetle which is found almost exclusively in Addo. Day sightings of animals are frequent and an illuminated water hole provides excellent night-time viewing.

The elephants of Addo are however the main draw card for visitors to the park. They are gregarious, living in family groups led by a matriarch or lead cow. Elephant bull have their own social system with a dominant bull who does most of the mating. Addo elephant bulls carry small tusks, and most cows are tusk less - thought to be the result of selective shooting in the nineteenth century. Calves are born after a gestation period of 22 months, and weigh about 120 kg at birth.

Protection of the elephant has resulted in simultaneous protection of an ecosystem which supports a fair number of antelope, numerous reptile, amphibian and insect species and a recorded 170 bird species. Two walking trails have been laid out in the park, and conducted night drives can be arranged, offering a rare experience of nocturnal life in the bush.

A large water hole near the chalets and cottages enables guests to watch game from the comfort of their verandas. Illuminated at night, it provides exceptional opportunities for game viewing. Accommodation is also available in self- contained rondavels as well as caravan and campsites. Facilities include a swimming pool, an a la carte restaurant and attractive picnic sites.

Located on the Buffalo River, South Africa's only river port is known for its fine beaches which attract swimmers, surfers and anglers. East London Museum houses a superb natural history collection, including an example of a coelacanth - a fish thought long extinct until it was caught off the coast in 1938. The Ann Bryant Art Gallery displays works widely representative of South African artists. Inland is Fort Hare University where several of South Africa's black leaders studied, and the small cathedral city of Grahamstown, where the History Museum depicts the life of the British settlers of 1820. The city is host to the National Arts Festival every July - and also boasts the oldest post box in the country.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

Is the largest coastal city between Durban and Cape Town. With its long, golden beaches safe for swimming, attractions like the Oceanarium, Snake Park and scenic nature trails, it is an ideal family destination. British settlers arrived here in 1820. The Donkin Heritage Trail winds through the city's historical heart, including the Victorian houses in Donkin Street. Take a trip on the Apple Express steam train, with spectacular views of the Storms River from the Van Stadens Bridge. West of Port Elizabeth, heading towards the Garden Route, are the surfing beaches of St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay.

The Wild Coast

Port Edward is the northern gateway to the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape Province - a 280 km stretch of outstandingly beautiful unspoilt coastline. Close to Port Edward is a stunning resort and casino complex, while further south is Port St. Johns, a well-known holiday spot with a nearby nature reserve. The resort of Coffee Bay got its name after coffee beans washed ashore from a shipwreck actually started to grow. About 50 km from here is The Hole in the Wall, a huge, detached cliff with a giant hole carved out by wave action. Nelson Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape in 1918 and retired to Qunu near Umtata. Here the Nelson Mandela Museum houses some of the gifts he received following his release from prison.