Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma, dubbed ‘The garden of the Garden Route’, sits on a 200 metre-high plateau that stretches from the Bloukrans River in the west to the Tsitsikamma River in the east. It is bordered on the north by the imposing Tsitsikamma Mountains and in the south by the Indian Ocean. Tsitsikamma is a Khoi word meaning ‘place of abundant or sparkling water’. The Tsitsikamma National Park offers activities for adrenaline junkies and for those looking to relax, including diving, snorkelling, kayaking, hiking, swimming, climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, sailing, bungee jumping and whale watching. The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is ideal for a tree top view of the beautiful indigenous forest on one of the ten treetop platforms.
East London Zoo
In one of the province’s largest cities, East London, there is the East London Zoo and it is located in the Queens Park Zoological Gardens close to the city centre. The zoo is home to 300 animals, among which 43 are mammals, 14 reptiles and 26 bird species. During a stroll around the complex you will see lions, tigers, jaguar, hyena, endangered African wild dogs, chimpanzees, smaller monkeys and a family of Hamadryas and Chacma Baboons. The zoo is home to a collection of birds and contains a treasure trove of flora and fauna, some of which are only found in the Eastern Cape.
Albany Museum was established in 1855 and is also an affiliated institute of Rhodes University. The museum, in Grahamstown, is the second oldest museum in South Africa. Today it consists of seven buildings that include the Natural Sciences Museum, the History Museum, the Observatory Museum, Fort Selwyn, the Old Provost military prison, Drostdy Arch and the Old Priest’s House which is leased to the National English Literary Museum. If you are looking to know more about 1820 British Settlers, the History Museum that is part of Albany Museum is ideal. The museum opens at 09h00 and closes at 16h00. In St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth sits the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, which houses a comprehensive collection of South African art and craft. It was founded by the Port Elizabeth Municipality in 1956 and originally named King George VI Art Gallery. Down the road from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum is the Horse Memorial that is dedicated to horses killed during the South African War. The memorial was unveiled in 1905.
For the food lovers and all things chilled out, Grazia Fine Food & Wine in East London, with views of the Eastern and Orient beaches, is an upmarket venue. The menu is strongly influenced by Italian cuisine, serving a variety of pasta dishes, including Linguini Al Marinara and layered gnocchi. If you want a more relaxed setting the Sanook Café and Gourmet Burgers is a bustling spot, day and night. It specialises in food that can be eaten with the fingers – burgers and pizzas are the staple in the restaurant. Sanook Café is the oldest of three sibling restaurants, serving craft beer, cocktails and everything in between.
Fun in the sun
Heavenly Stable Adventures Beach Trails in Port Elizabeth is situated within close proximity of the Sardinia Bay Reserve, which plays an important part in the conservation of the local fauna and flora of the Eastern Cape coastline. Sardinia Bay Beach is the backdrop and adventure hotspot for those making use of Heavenly Stables. It takes you on beach horse riding adventures, with horses chosen according to a rider’s experience; for beginners there are always the placid ponies. Despite being the lesser-known member of the Port Elizabeth beaches, St Georges Strand is frequented by bottlenose dolphins, who splash in the waters and surf the waves all year round. It is situated close to the industrial area of Nelson Mandela Bay, and extends up to the breakwater of the world-renowned Coega Harbour. Between July and December you can look out for whales as they lobtail just off shore. If you fancy swimming with the sharks, wreck diving on the Haerlem Wreck in Algoa Bay is for you. Here you can see leopard sharks, cat sharks and pajama sharks swimming gracefully in their artificial home.