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FFrom natural and geological wonders to charming seaside resorts; and from watersports and adventure to historical haunts, there’s plenty on offer in the Eastern Cape's Cacadu region.
As the largest district in the Eastern Cape, the Cacadu Region lays claim to great natural, cultural and historical diversity that will captivate and inspire you.
It comprises 6 areas: the Karoo, Baviaanskloof, Addo, Tsitsikamma, Jeffreys Bay, the Sunshine Coast and Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown).
The Karoo, with its vast desert plains and odd-looking mountains, has huge allure for visitors. Here you can visit the Valley of Desolation, an intriguing geological formation of weathered rock, formed millions of years ago, that now falls within the Camdeboo National Park close to the historic town of Graaff Reinet. If you're looking to up your cultural quota further, be sure to factor in a visit to the surreal Owl House in the neighbouring village of Nieu Bethesda.
Baviaanskloof, or valley of baboons, is another major regional attraction comprising a 192 000ha conservation area teeming with game and birdlife and offering a number of adventure and nature-based activities with plentiful accommodation.
Addo and Tsitsikamma feature 2 prominent South African parks, namely the famous Addo Elephant National Park, home to more than 450 African elephants, and the Garden Route National Park, one of the country's adventure tourism hotspots, featuring the world's highest commercial bungee jump.
If sun and sea are on your agenda, look no further than Cacadu's Sunshine Coast and Jeffreys Bay. The Sunshine Coast is a delightful coastal tourism route featuring small seaside resorts and beautiful beaches, while Jeffreys Bay is South Africa's surf capital and one of the best surfing spots in the world.
The university town of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) forms the epicentre of what is called Frontier Country, an area where the Eastern Cape's 100-year frontier wars played out. Several national heritage sites in and around the area speak to its historical, and cultural, significance.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency
Tel: +27 (0)43 492 0881
How to get here
Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Port Elizabeth International Airport. If you’re driving; from Johannesburg take the N1 south and then the N9 after Colesberg. Pick up the N10 at Middleburg to Port Elizabeth. If travelling from Cape Town and Durban, take the N2 east and west respectively to Port Elizabeth.
Best time to visit
The Cacadu region is an all-year-round destination due to its warm climate, although the Karoo can be subjected to temperature extremes in the height of winter and summer.
Tours to do
The Tsitsikamma Adventure Route, Langkloof Fruit Route, Baviaans Route, Blue Crane Route, Mohair Route, Merino Route and Owl Route.
As the region is large and far flung, the best way to get around is by car.
Length of stay
Exploring the region could take many days. However, shorter day trips can also be planned.
What will it cost?
Accommodation costs vary according to your choice of farm stay, guest house, lodge or hotel.
What to pack
Seasonal packing: lots of warm clothes for winter, and light gear, including your swimsuit, for summer visits. Hat and sunscreen are a must.
The National Arts Festival takes place each July, and don’t miss the Rose Fayre, taking place at Addo in October.