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Monday, 14th October 2019

Whether you’re planning your first trip to the Eastern Cape or visiting on your annual holiday; whether you’ve seen all the highlights or are simply on a weekend road trip, the Eastern Cape offers world-class game reserves, world-renowned beaches and adventures galore! However, in between these headliners are lesser-known places and spaces that will easily work their way into your heart. Take a sho’t left at some of these secret spots in the Eastern Cape.  That’s the best secret of all: there’s always more to explore.


Route 72 on the Sunshine Coast is best-known for beach houses, speedboats and glorious beaches. A turn in at Alexandria will lead you to the spectacular Woody Cape section of the Addo National Park. The Addo dune field (or dune sea) is the largest and least degraded coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere, imparting a rare sense of infinity and natural solitude with views overlooking Algoa Bay and Bird Island. Choose from the 7km Dassie Day Hike or the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail, overnighting at the Langebos huts. Covering 15 800ha and stretching over 80km in length, this is a pristine section of the province and you’ll feel like you’re discovering a true hidden gem!


Image: SANparks


The Langkloof Valley, a haven of tranquillity and biodiversity, borders the Baviaanskloof and Tsitsikamma region. This lesser-known section of Route 62 passes through the towns of Kareedouw, Twee Riviere, Joubertina, Krakeel, Louterwater and Misgund – known as South Africa’s Fruit Route. The Langkloof is a superb option for a road trip with beautiful orchards, mountain vistas and rustic farm stays. Highlights include fruit blossoms in spring, snow-covered mountains in winter, 4x4 routes, horse-riding, hiking and mountain biking. It’s a wonderful blend of adventure and serenity.


Image: Janet Middleton


While Port Elizabeth’s Golden Mile beachfront may get most of the attention, her more retiring neighbour on the Wildside may leave you speechless. Sardinia Bay lies between Schoenmakerskop (it’s the turnaround point of the Sacramento Trail) and Seaview is a gem that is best known to locals but not many visitors. A large sand dune blocks this series of aquamarine bays and rock pools from view but it’s well worth the climb as you gaze across the ocean watching the dolphins and whales frolicking. Sardinia Bay is a marine reserve, so no fishing, but snorkelling, swimming and surfing are popular. Be aware of rough seas and rip currents.


Image: Janet Middleton


Everything on the Wild Coast is bigger: vast distances, towering cliffs, enormous schools of sardines and pods of dolphins. The Magwa Waterfall is no exception. Located on the 1800ha Magwa Tea Plantation, the waterfall cascades 144m down into a narrow canyon, casting rainbows and a beautiful fine mist in the air. The waterfall is one of the Wild Coast’s most easily accessible waterfalls, so spend some time walking along the riverbed and through the surrounding forest, it’s a magical place.


Image: Janet Middleton


Sundays River is everything that is marvellous and unique about the Eastern Cape all rolled into one - meandering river, wildlife, biodiverse flora, adventure and the ocean!  The mouth of the river borders the coastal section of the Addo National Park and is surrounded by mammoth sand dunes that are excellent for sandboarding. The river itself is wide and calm, offering excellent opportunities to paddle, swim, water-ski, fishing and more, while its banks teem with birdlife.  Book a sundowner cruise, pack a picnic and enjoy the golden evening light knowing that you’re nestled next to the only Big Seven national park in the world!



The Karoo Heartland is best known for sweeping valleys and semi-desert plains, but Somerset East is an oasis tucked away next to the Boschberg Mountains. Driving into town, you’ll be impressed by the lush surroundings and it only gets better from there. Known as the heart of the Blue Crane Route, Somerset East is best-known as the home of abstract-extraordinaire, Walter Battiss and the museum in his honour. However, mountain biking, birding and hiking are quite spectacular and there are XXX waterfalls within a short distance of town, perfect for a cool down! Finally, a visit wouldn’t be complete without a fly-fishing excursion. Wild Fly Fishing in the Karoo has exclusive access to dams and sections of river that are excellent for sports fisherfolk.



Take a meander through the Kologha State Forest in the shade of magnificent yellowwood and stinkwood trees, passing waterfalls and listening to the chattering of the birds. The mountains are covered with Afromontane forest and grassland, making for a unique experience for nature-lovers. Located just outside Stutterheim, the forest features six different trails, ranging from 3km to 17km, and some allow horse-riding and mountain biking. Keep a sharp lookout for Cape parrot, white-starred robin, Cape sugarbird, grey crowned crane and many more species. There are also picnic sites, toilets and braai facilities – this is a place you may want to visit again and again!


Image: Escape Route


Hankey is one of three towns that make up the area known as the Gamtoos Valley. A charming little ‘dorpie’ (town), Hankey is your gateway to the world-renowned, Baviaanskloof. However, the town itself is interesting and unique in its own way. Against a backdrop of citrus orchards, you can pick strawberries, take an adventurous walk up to Bergvenster, explore winding dirt roads and hike Innikloof – the perfect family destination and a fascinating history lesson too, as the final resting place of Sarah Baartman.


Image: Janet Middleton

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