The Gamtoos River, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
South Africa's first inhabitants, the Mfengu and the Khoi people, once lived around Hankey in Gamtoos River Valley centuries ago.
The lower Gamtoos River Valley features a mix of natural attractions from its large citrus farm, the largest in the area, to three small historical villages set in a beautiful valley as the river flows to the sea,
A visit to Hankey, Loerie and Pantensie will open you up to the historical importance of this area. At Patensie, spend some quiet time around the Kouga Dam, South Africa's first dam to have two curvatures and, if the river is overflowing, you can hear it roar like a lion (gamtoos' means ‘the roaring lion' in Khoi language).
Hankey not only has the largest sundial in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also the burial place of Sarah Baartman, the Khoisan girl who was once 'enticed' to go to Europe, only to be exhibited as a freak in Paris, where she died in 1816. Her remains only returned to South Africa in 2002 for a proper burial, and her burial site is here is now a heritage site.
There is more history to this place, for it's here that South Africa's first inhabitants, the Khoisan people, once lived. The grave of its founder Mr Phillip, the missionary who started this village as a base for his evangelical work, is here. From Hankey you can have the most stunning view of this river in the Eastern Cape below.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Gamtoos Tourism Information Office
Tel: +27 (0) 42 283 0437 or +27 (0) 42 283 0270/227
How to get here
The Gamtoos River valley is approximately 75 km from Port Elizabeth.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit is September-October, when the citrus trees are flowering and when many big events take place.
Around the area
The surfing venue at Jeffrey's Bay, Cape St Francis resort town, Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve, Addo Elephant National Park, Baviaanskloof Route, Garden Route Sea kayaking trails, Inyati Buffalo Route, and Maloti Route, which will take you to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.
Tours to do
Tours of the Gamtoos River mouth are available from Port Elizabeth. Horse riding is offered at the nearby Jeffrey's Bay.
By walking or through self-drive. There are some 4x4 routes around.
Length of stay
Where to stay
Accommodation is available in Patensie and at the nearby Baviaanskloof in the form of chalets, campsites, bred & breakfast and self-catering facilities.
What to eat
There are some fine restaurants in Patensie. Try some seafood, such as oysters for which the area is famous.
The Loerie Naartjie Festival (September).