Five places to visit in the Eastern Cape   

South Africa is a beautiful place. So beautiful that the locals often overlook the beauty of the landscape. People stare at some of the most beautiful locations worldwide and yet complain about politics – oblivious to what is in front of them. What a fantastic problem to have. This speaks volumes about the quality of the tourism destinations in South Africa.  One such a place with outstanding views is some of the places to visit Eastern Cape. 

The Valley of Desolation   

The Valley of Desolation has some of the most remarkable natural features in the Eastern Cape, located in Camdeboo National Park, which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet. The access road ascends to 1,500 meters and ends in a parking area with well-kept pathways leading to panoramic overlooks along the sheer cliff face.   

Visitors may enjoy breathtaking views of towering dolomite rock pillars and the surrounding countryside, where shifting light plays on the expansive vistas. Visit during golden hours (sunrise or sunset) for the most incredible shots, when the rich, golden light imbues the landscapes with a honey hue. The park’s wildlife is diversified and numerous. Visitors often see many bird species and animals like the Cape buffalo, kudu, springbok, and bat-eared fox.   

Graaff-Reinet, a neighboring town, is well worth visiting for its restored Karoo-style residences and ancient structures. A highlight is Reinet House, a former Cape Dutch parsonage that is now a museum with a vast collection of 18ths- and 19th-century furniture and farming equipment and a First World War doll collection.   

The Wild Coast   

South Africa’s Wild Coast, which stretches north of East London, is an area of breathtaking beauty. This untamed wilderness, which stretches from the Mtamvuna River in the north to the Great Kei River in the south, is characterized by craggy sea cliffs, wind-whipped beaches, subtropical woods, and hills coated in golden grass.   

The Xhosa people and other tribes whose cottages dot the landscapes have their ancestral home on the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast was once part of the Transkei, one of four areas declared separate from South Africa during the apartheid era until it united with the Eastern Cape province in 1994.   

The ideal way to experience this rough and inaccessible region is via a 4WD vehicle. Still, daring visitors may also go along walking paths linking local communities or explore the area on horseback. The famous Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve and the Hole in the Wall, a natural arch formed by thrashing waves, are also tourist attractions.   

Addo Elephant Park   

Addo Elephant National Park, located 72 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth, is South Africa’s third-biggest national park. It was established in 1931 to preserve the last 11 South African wild elephants from extinction. It now serves as a home for over 600 elephants and various other intriguing species.   

The park, which stretches from the Karoo to the coast, contains offshore islands that are crucial nesting grounds for Cape gannets and African penguins. The park’s claim to fame is that it is the only national park to safeguard the Big 7.   

Zebras, antelope, an astonishing diversity of birds, and nocturnal species such as porcupines, anteaters, and bush pigs may also be seen. In addition to guided day and evening game drives, tourists may partake in other activities such as horseback riding and hiking paths.   

The park accepts day visitors who may explore the wilderness independently or join guided tours. Accommodation for overnight guests is offered in the form of cottages, chalets, or campsites.   

The Storms River Suspension Bridge   

The Storms River Suspension Bridge is likely one of the most prominent sites in Tsitsikamma National Park. This stunning coastal reserve is now part of Garden Route National Park, extending 200 kilometers from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape.   

The 77-meter-long bridge spans the foamy, froth-topped waters of the Storms River mouth, which whirl and crash less than seven meters below the bridge as they join the Indian Ocean. Standing on the bridge, tourists often believe that they are floating over the raging water themselves.   

To get to the bridge, travelers must climb 900 meters through lovely bird-rich woodlands with waterfalls and many vantage locations to rest and admire the sea views. Two smaller suspension bridges bring hikers to the route for their return trek. Hikers can refuel at the neighboring lodge restaurant after the lovely stroll, which takes around 30 minutes there and back.   

Mountain Zebra National Park   

Mountain Zebra National Park allows nature enthusiasts to witness a diverse range of species against the backdrop of breathtaking mountain landscapes. The park, established in 1937 to protect the Cape Mountain zebra, is located approximately 24km southwest of Cradock on the northern side of the Bankberg mountain range, with peaks rising to 2,000 meters.   

The park is home to springbok, kudus, caracals, jackals, cheetahs, lions, Cape buffalo, black rhinos, and many kinds of birds, in addition to a substantial population of Cape Mountain zebras, which are smaller than their typical counterparts. Visitors who are fortunate enough to see the shy aardwolf may if they manage to notice it. 

The dry and rocky terrain is dotted with wild olives, sumac, and prickly acacias, and the broad grasslands that border the driving path provide vistas of grazing fauna. Visitors may also see San (Bushman) artwork that dates back around 300 years. Paddling in the park’s bathing pools, strolling the nature paths, and exploring the 4WD tracks are some of the other activities available.   

Guests may also tour the park in their two-wheel-drive cars. Accommodation options include a guest house, family chalets, and campsites, all of which have access to a shop and a lovely restaurant.  

Whether you want to see beautiful scenery or expand your wildlife photography portfolio, the Eastern Cape has beautiful locations that enable you to experience of both of these worlds. Although most of these places are outdoors experiencing nature, be sure to check the weather first to make sure you are prepared for the weather ahead!