SECRET SPOTS TO EXPLORE IN THE EASTERN CAPE THIS SUMMER
Wednesday, 28th November 2018
If you’re looking to travel like a local or explore some of the lesser-known wonders of the Eastern Cape this summer, take a browse through these secret spots that might even be better than their better-known counterparts. There’s wonder to be found and memories to be made in every corner of the province, and if you’re lucky enough to have chosen the Eastern Cape for your summer holidays, you’re in for a treat!
TRAVELLING ROUTE 72 ON THE SUNSHINE COAST? VISIT THE MERMAID POOL
The Mermaid Pool is Kenton’s very own miniature blue lagoon. Although the high tide does encroach, bringing fresh seawater and sea life into the pool, mid to low tide is the perfect time to enjoy this tidal treasure. It’s an ideal place for little ones to splash or try snorkelling for the first time and adults will love its cool crystal-clear waters. The pool is sometimes sanded over, but more often than not it’s a little lagoon that the entire family will love.
TAKING A CRAWL THROUGH THE KAROO? CHECK OUT SOMERSET EAST’S TREASURES
The Karoo is best known for its dusty plains and dramatic mountains, but there’s a little oasis in the Karoo Heartland: Somerset East. Where trees grow green and mountain streams flow, visitors can enjoy waterfalls, wild fly fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Somerset East is also the birthplace of artist, Walter Battiss, considered the foremost South African abstract painter and imaginative creator of the quirky Fook Island concept. You can visit his museum in Somerset East, which holds his personal collection of his artworks and which Battiss bequeathed to “the people of Somerset East and South Africa.”
HOLIDAYING IN HOGSBACK? MARVEL AT THE ECO SHRINE
Hogsback in the Amathole Mountain Escape is simply breathtaking, there’s no doubt about it. High in the mountains, surrounded by Afromontane and Afroalpine forest, the little hamlet of Hogsback has been inspiring artists and writers for generations and is the perfect location for Diana Graham’s “Eco-Shrine” installation. Opened in 1995, the Eco-Shrine Centre for Art & Ecology seems to blend perfectly into the natural surroundings. Visitors are awed by the spectacular views and the discovery of large oil paintings displayed in sculpted niches joined by a low wall of cement relief. Diana’s adjacent studio is open to the public from where she sells original artworks and quality prints in poster and postcard format.
TAKING IN TSITSIKAMMA? TRY THE “STRIPTEASE” TRAIL
This unique rock pool hike starts at the Tsitsikamma Lodge (there is no cost, but you do need to sign in at reception). It’s a 5km trail, visiting 11 pools along the way, and should take around four hours to complete. Each pool has a name, and the name denotes your instructions – it is called the “Striptease” Trail, after all! Crystal-clear mountain pools await, with names like “Bikini Pool”, “Bottomless Pool”, “Honeymoon Pool” and, yes you guessed it, “Kaalgat Pool.” This cheeky circular walk is a lesser-known Tsitsikamma hike but it’s still advisable to ring the bell before approaching the final pool to warn anyone already in there!
MEANDERING THE WILD COAST? MAKE TIME FOR THE MAGWA WATERFALL
The Wild Coast’s Magwa Waterfall is a wonder to behold: a curtain of water falling 144m straight down into a narrow canyon, formed by a sudden seismic movement in the earth’s crust. The water looks like smoke travelling down the rock face into the gorge below and, if you’re brave enough to peek over the egde, you may see the sunlight turning the falling water into brilliant rainbows! The waterfall is found on the 1 800ha Magwa Tea Plantation, the last remaining tea estate in South Africa, just outside Lusikisiki. The falls are impressive and impossibly beautiful, surrounded by thick indigenous forest.
EXPLORING GREATER ADDO? PADDLE THE SUNDAYS RIVER
Addo is best-known for its elephants and the Addo National Park, but it is certainly worth exploring the small towns, sand dunes and meandering river of the Greater Addo region. A Sunday’s River Safari will not only soothe your soul but will awaken the hidden birder within as you seek out countless species of water birds, seven species of Kingfisher, and even the elusive, and magnificent, Fish Eagle. The safari canoes are custom-designed for comfort and stability, making your safari ideal for photographers, families and nature-lovers alike.
VISITING THE KOUGA REGION? TAKE IN A COASTAL TRAIL IN CAPE ST FRANCIS
Cape St Francis is home to five gorgeous nature reserves; that’s quite a lot for this tiny coastal Kouga village. Cape St Francis, along the Eastern Cape coastline, lies at the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and most biodiverse of all the plant kingdoms with 70% of these plant species found nowhere else in the world. In addition to gorgeous coastal views and opportunities to see marine wildlife (dolphins, whales, otters, birds), the St Francis Fynbos/Thicket Mosaic grows in a tiny area between Tsitsikamma and Port Elizabeth, in fact only 0.2% of the Cape. It’s a unique, interesting and spectacular region.