See the Eastern Cape in 48 Hours

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Thursday, 25th June 2015

The Eastern Cape has a lot to offer, from Big Five game reserves to white beaches. Dorine Reinstein looks at some of the places to stay and things to do during a two-night stay.

Day 1

Begin in East London

Start your day in East London, South Africa's only river port and one of the most attractive stretches of the province’s Cape seaboard. East London is considered the gateway to the rich and varied Eastern Cape and offers a number of attractions to suit all tastes.

For sun-lovers, the city’s sweeping white beaches extend for miles, unpolluted and uncrowded. 

For history lovers, the East London Museum is home to excellent anthropological displays, including a stuffed coelacanth - a fish believed to have been extinct until one was netted locally in 1938, and a hominin child’s footprints estimated to be 124 000 years old.

For those who prefer to spend their morning exploring the Xhosa culture, a visit to Khaya La Bantu cultural village will offer a taste of authentic Xhosa hospitality and open visitors’ eyes to the role that traditional art and craft play in the cultural identity of the Xhosa people.

Head over to Hogsback

Make your way to Hogsback for a well-deserved lunch in one of the numerous little pubs in this enchanting little mountain village.

It is believed that Hogsback was named after the three ridges on the Amathole Mountains that resemble the outlines of a hog's back. The fairytale-like surrounding has appealed to the imagination of numerous travellers. It is even said that Lord of the Rings author, JRR Tolkien, got his inspiration for his Middle-earth fantasy world at Hogsback.

The Eco-Shrine is a must-see when visiting Hogsback. Travellers can greet the angels at the gate, walk the Labyrinth and the 400m garden meander called the Fairy Realm, look out for the rare Cape parrot, and just feel the magic.

End off at Kwandwe

End the day at the Big Five malaria-free Kwandwe Game Reserve. The Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge is set along the banks of the Great Fish River and offers visitors complete privacy and relaxation at the end of an activity-filled day.

Enjoy one of the lodge’s African-inspired meals, which are served on private decks, in the candlelit dining room, or in the cosy boma under a magnificent starlit sky.

Retreat to one of the nine luxurious suites, each ensuring maximum privacy. Each stylish suite features a private plunge pool and large viewing deck with breathtaking views. For ultimate relaxation, take a bath with unparalleled views across the river where animals never fail to come for a drink.

Day 2

Uncover the Big Five during an early-morning game drive

As dawn breaks at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, a gentle tap on the door will wake visitors to invite them to explore the African bush. The ranger will discuss what visitors can hope to see before setting out in an open 4x4 safari vehicle. The ranger and tracker will share their extensive knowledge of the bush during these drives. Guests will have the opportunity to see the predators winding up their nocturnal hunts and settling down for the day. Many animals take advantage of the cool morning hours to graze before the heat of the day.

Return to the lodge for a breakfast, with platters of fruit and cheese followed by a selection of hot breakfast dishes. Choose from eggs, oats, waffles or a number of other options.

Before leaving Kwandwe, experience the thrill of the bush on foot. Take a closer look at the unseen wonders of the bush on a leisurely walk. An armed ranger guides guests through ‘up close and personal’ sightings of occasional buffalo herds, various antelope species, giraffe, warthog, bushbuck or bushpig.

Lunch with the ghosts of Grahamstown

Grahamstown, with its galleries, museums and restaurants, has an incredible vibe that is sure to appeal to every visitor. The city offers an incredible diversity of attractions and is known as the 'Settler City', the 'City of Saints' or even 'Sleepy Hollow'. Just spending a few hours walking the city’s streets with its Victorian-style buildings, will catapult travellers back to the mid-1800s.

For lunch, why not join Alan Weyer, a well-known local historian, on one of his Spirits of the Past tours through the ‘Frontier Country’ around Grahamstown. Travellers will, amongst others, visit the Valley of the Ancient Voices, a pristine valley filled with rock art, relics and stone-age artefacts. During a lavish picnic lunch, they’ll hear the incredible stories of Grahamstown’s past.

Spend the afternoon in SA’s friendly city

Explore the heart and soul of Port Elizabeth, or PE, as South Africans prefer to call it, by venturing onto the 5km Donkin Heritage Trail. The trail follows in the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers, and links no fewer than 47 national monuments and historic sites in central Port Elizabeth, named after the acting governor of the Cape Colony at the time, Sir Rufane Donkin’s beloved wife.

Get your adrenaline pumping with a sandboarding adventure

End the afternoon with a sandboarding adventure just outside Port Elizabeth at the mouth of the Sundays River. From PE, travellers will embark on a leisurely 40-minute cruise on the Sundays River ferry to the dune fields where the vessel will stop directly at the foot of one of these dunes. Here travellers can experience the adrenaline thrill of sand surfing on some of the highest coastal dune field systems in the world.

Spend the night at the Addo Elephant National Park

Make your way to the exclusive Kuzuko Game Lodge in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, for a traditional boma dinner in an unforgettable bushveld setting. If travellers prefer, they can also enjoy a candlelit dinner in one of the private venues at the lodge, inside their chalet or on their private deck. 

After dinner, indulge in some head-to-toe pampering at the lodge’s wellness centre, which boasts a breathtaking view of the Big 5 Karoo Park below.  The experience will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

Retire for the night in one of the 24 luxurious chalets, which each have a private deck offering spectacular views of the malaria-free Karoo bushveld.

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