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SSouth Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. It is an area with some enticing attractions – pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery.
Its natural diversity is impressive: the Eastern Cape incorporates parts of all seven ecological zones that occur in South Africa. It also features all three of the country's biodiversity regions, which is further enhanced by its 820km of untamed coastline.
TThis ensures an assortment of plant and animal species, including the Big Five, abundant birdlife and rich marine life (including 27 species of whales and dolphins).
The province offers something for everyone: for the adrenaline addict there’s tubing down the Storm’s River Gorge, skydiving in Grahamstown and taking the plunge off the Bloukrans Bridge on the world’s highest commercially operated bridge bungee; outdoor enthusiasts can try spot the Big Seven or enjoy pristine beaches.
The province is steeped in history – it is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and a number of other great political activists – and was one of the centres at the forefront of the fight for democracy in South Africa.
Like South Africa’s other provinces, the Eastern Cape has an excellent infrastructure, with good roads and plenty of accommodation.
Addo Elephant National Park and the Wild Coast
This is the only reserve in the world that is home to the Big Seven – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, great white sharks and southern right whales. The 164 000ha park, near Port Elizabeth, is rated as one of the best places in Africa to see elephants up close. Further up the coast is an area known as the Wild Coast, a coastal area of exceptional natural beauty.
Know as the Friendly City, the Windy City, or simply PE, Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers. It is the second-oldest city and the fifth largest in South Africa. Life here revolves around the ocean. The city caters for everyone, and is known as a great family vacation centre.