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Tourist Attractions of the Eastern Cape


Tourist Attractions of South Africa

South Africa is a vast and extremely fascinating country that packs a powerful tourist punch. Few countries can match it for variety and diversity in attractions, activities and cultural groups. From art and history to food and wine, wildlife and nature, nightlife, shopping and even places of worship – there is so much on offer to attract, entice and entertain.

The Western Cape with its mountains and oceans offers scenery that has inspired thousands of descriptions. It has great beaches, World Heritage sites, romantic winelands and museums that celebrate a rich cultural heritage. You can’t talk about a trip to Cape Town without discussing the fabulous cuisine and shopping options that draw tourists time and time again.

Gauteng’s brash exterior belies its depth, uncovered at numerous cultural and historical attractions. Places like Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto feature alongside chi-chi restaurants, funky galleries, shopping malls and fascinating visits to the Cradle of Humankind, where all our stories began.

In Mpumalanga you’ll find a host of nature-related attractions, arts and crafts outlets, country towns, cultural villages and stupendous scenery along the well-known Panorama route. Of course one of the major attractions is the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Limpopo shares this wildlife sanctuary - the size of a small country - and has many of its own nature reserves. It also boasts the fascinating Mapungubwe, where once an ancient kingdom developed a field of influence that spread beyond the continent. Intriguing groups such as the Venda and the Balobedu still practise culturally-rich traditions in the far north of this region.

The North West is all about Sun City, and the Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserves, but don’t forget the mampoer farms and the idiosyncrasies of the Marico, the cultural mélange at Lesedi on the shores of the Hartebeespoort Dam or the little town of Taung where the famous skull of the same name was discovered. From the Margaret Roberts Herbal Farm (De Wildt) to Sol Plaaitje’s house in Mafikeng, there’s much to explore.

Immense skies and enormous spaces characterise the Northern Cape, along with attractions such as the Big Hole in Kimberley, the Loeriesfontein Windmill Museum and the myths and legends as taught by the ancient San. The Augrabies Falls National Park, the Ais/Ais Richtersveld National Park and the Riemvasmaak community all offer interesting experiences and insights.

KwaZulu-Natal has its own brand of uniqueness when it comes to tourist attractions. Here you can visit a Hare Krishna temple in Durban, pay your respects at the Battlefields in the Midlands, come face to face with Zulu culture and celebrate some of the finest beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline. Sunny year-round, the province has great places to shop, eat, and discover.

The Eastern Cape is a place of rich heritage and struggle sites. Here historic monuments find their place alongside fun aquariums and beachside establishments. Malaria-free game sanctuaries and numerous nature reserves thrill adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.

Small towns and homegrown hospitality are the distinctive attributes of the Free State. Visit the Basotho Cultural Village on the way to the spectacular Golden Gate National Park, visit the Choet Visser Rugby Museum in Bloemfontein or the Fertility Caves (outside Clarens). Make your way to the fun galleries of Clarens, feast visually on the sandstone sights of Ficksburg and drink in the fascinating history of the provincial capital, Bloemfontein.

Wherever you go around the country, you’re bound to find a fun attraction, a moving museum, a great place to enjoy the local vibes. Enjoy surfing the Nightjar site for the best attractions on offer in each of the provinces.


Articles & Blogs

Playing the Slots

Valda 7:27pm 9 Aug

Words Marion Whitehead, pics Marion Whitehead, Gallo/Getty Images, AfricaMediaOnline

The dim waters of the mountain pool were more than brisk: I shrieked with shock as I plunged in. The dark stream had most likely never seen the sun as it seeped its way out of the bowels of the earth and collected in a slot canyon incised in the side of the Baviaanskloof valley. The towering cliffs that almost met overhead were fringed with ferns and rock-strangling fig trees, ensuring not even a glint of a sunbeam crept in to warm the small pool.

Being inside a slot canyon feels a bit...

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Nightjar Travel 10:30am 24 Feb

SAMREC, Cape Recife

Libby Sharwood is right: it’s impossible to watch an African penguin for more than a few minutes and not smile. The co-founder and trustee of the South Africa Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) isn’t all smiles though; she spends plenty of time worrying about them too. “These little chaps are under incredible pressure,” she explains, citing research from the last decade which illustrates the decline in the number of African penguins. In fact, given the recent rapid decrease in African penguin numbers, its threat status was raised...

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Leopard Magpie

Nightjar Travel 8:30am 23 Feb

This photo features the funky and wonderful Leopard Magpie (Zerenopsis lepida)! This moth belongs to the Geometridae family of moths. It prefers forest habitats and occurs in South Africa as well as Mozambique. The Magpie Leopard's larvae feed gregariously on cycads, Apodytes dimidiata, Carissa grandiflora, Carissa macrocarpa and Maesa spp

This photo was submitted to LepiMAP by Deon Grobler, who photographed this Magpie Leopard in East London, Eastern Cape province. Where else does this awesome moth occur?? Well you can...

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Sun Worship

Polakow Photography 6:30am 7 Feb

Sun Worship, Tsitsikamma.

1/250 sec, f22, ISO-100, EV step -0.30.

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SANCCOB Penguin Rehabilitation Centre

Eastern Cape Adventures 8:30am 19 Jan

Have you ever seen an African Penguin from up close? When in the Western Province you can go to Boulders in Cape Town or take the drive to Betty’s Bay, but here in the Eastern Province you can see (and sometimes touch) the birdies at the SANCCOB African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre in Cape St Francis, next to the Lighthouse. It is an open facility and visitors can just sit and view the penguins and other marine birds, or book a guided tour. During holidays the kids can take part in the Wild About Penguins children’s activity.

The Centre is easily accessible by bicycle or on foot, so...

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Whale watching at Port St Johns

Nightjar Travel 11:55am 13 Jan

Whale watching at Port St Johns - A standing ovation

The experience was like a theatrical performance, beginning as soon as our boat made it past the breakers. First to take the stage were the Cape Gannets, airborne acrobats hovering and diving for their breakfast. Gannets can submerge themselves as deep as 30 metres to grab sardines and other bait fish. And then – dolphins!! Dolphins as numerous as impala in the Kruger Park. I gasped as a large bottlenose dolphin flung itself from the wake of our boat. There were common dolphins too, that synchronise their breeding...

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Encephalartos altensteinii

Nightjar Travel 11:55am 3 Jan

Encephalartos altensteinii, Addo.

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Nightjar Travel 2:55pm 26 Sep

This is a winter scene of a farm track deep in the Baviaanskloof valley, which plays host to a range of different veld types and biomes with quite dramatic transitions. The 'valley of baboons' is bordered in the north by the Baviaanskloof mountains, with spekboomveld and valley bushveld on their slopes, and in the south by the Kouga mountains with their Cape fynbos. The long side valleys have Knysna Forest vegetation, while rhinoceros veldt and grassland is found on the mountain plateaus.

Baviaanskloof is classified as a part of the Little Karoo, probably because of the widespread...

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Golden Orb Spider

Nightjar Travel 2:55pm 19 Sep

If you've come across 'Charlotte's Web' by E B White, you’ll probably have a pleasantly anthropomorphic view of this golden silk orb-weaver spider. This non-aggressive, non-poisonous species of the Nephila genus spins large distinctive webs in concentric circles that shine golden in sunlight. The orbs are repaired and often rebuilt on a daily basis to make sure any prey sticks around. 

The V&A Museum in London recently acquired a cape woven from over a million webs. Fisherman sometimes use the crushed webs, which unfold in water, to catch baitfish. Seen here in the...

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Dwesa Mangroves

Nightjar Travel 5:55am 14 Aug

These mangroves were photographed at low tide at the Nqabara river mouth, just south of Dwesa Wildlife Reserve. Mangroves are unique tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs that have adapted to the varying salt levels in the intertidal zone between sea and land, providing protection against soil erosion and offering many benefits to the creatures they harbour.

Mangroves are among the most threatened plant communities in South Africa. The Wild Coast has the most southerly distribution of mangrove forests, which the locals use for building materials, fish traps, firewood, stock...

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Animal Demography Unit 11:55am 6 Aug

QUESTION: This UFO is a Myrmeleontidae of the order Neuroptera, but what exactly is it?
CLUES: Eyes at the side of the head; closed wings held parallel to a slender body; not that great at flying... They also exhibit a remarkable transformation through their lifecycle.
This one was seen near Maclear in the Eastern Cape at Woodcliffe Farm (-30.995, 28.1745), which has the Little Pot River running through it and offers some excellent flyfishing. These look very similar to a flyfisher's darling, the damselfly, which is often imitated to tempt trout. 
ANSWER: This is an adult...

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Brown Mussels

Nightjar Travel 11:55am 30 Jul

Mussels, let it be known, have been able to sink navigational buoys by the sheer weight of their numbers. These Perna pernas, photographed at low tide at Dwesa, still thrive on the shores of the Dwesa-Cwebe Wildlife Reserve & Marine Sanctuary, a biodiversity hotspot that forms a natural frontier between sub-tropical and temperate zone flora and fauna - a kind of no man's land, in more ways than one.

The Reserve’s primary purpose is the conservation of the unique biodiversity of its coastal forests, southern sourveld grassland and the Marine Protected Area. It provides a habitat...

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Abandoned Car

Nightjar Travel 2:55pm 25 Jul

I met a traveller from an Afrique land
Who said: 'A rusty car in barren veld 
Lies in the bushes. Near it, with one hand 
I pressed, a shuttered image caught, the car half sunk  
In arid scrub with trees that grew inside,
Proof that its driver well those passions read
Which yet survive, grown in this lifeless thing,
The love of nature, travel's ardour fed.
And on the numberplate no words appear:
No statement, no declaring 'I'm the King:
Look on my car, ye lowly, and despair!'
Only the hulk remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck,...

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Black Mamba

Nightjar Travel 5:55am 25 Jul

And the winner is… in a 'SuperSnake Africa' show, definitely Black Mamba in the categories: Longest Venomous Snake in Africa - up to 4.45m; Fastest Snake in the world - up to 20kph; Deadliest Snake – can inject up to 25 times the human fatal dose at a time in up to 12 successive bites. Without immediate anti-venom, you don't stand a chance - paralysis usually occurs within the hour and with 100% mortality.

Big Chief reports: “Mama Nightjar and I were swimming in the pool in front of Mkambathi waterfall when this chappie came swimming in from the open ocean side. I spotted him when he...

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Oogpister Beetle

Nightjar Travel 2:55pm 20 Jul

Photographed in the Mountain Zebra National Park in winter, this multi-talented beetle has a taste for grasshoppers, caterpillars and ants, and secretes its own antacid – not for digestive problems but as a powerful defence. Aptly called, ‘eye pisser,’ it can squirt a well-aimed jet of formic acid from up to 30cm away, causing great pain, and in small animals, even blindness. 

Potential predators soon learn to avoid the distinctive black-and-white-patterned carapace that speeds around on long legs that can kick like Ronaldo to send irritant ants whizzing through the air. Certain...

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Eastern Renaissance

shane 9:44am 14 Jun

Text and images by Stephen Cunliffe

The Eastern Cape is home to an astounding six of South Africa’s seven major biomes: a veritable botanic melting pot. From thickly vegetated mountain slopes caked in euphorbias and aloes to undulating plains smothered in nutritious Albany Thicket, the incredibly varied terrain supports a diverse spectrum of wildlife scattered across breathtakingly beautiful and...

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On top of the world

Erik Brits 2:00pm 7 Apr

Those of you who've followed the blog this week will know that we had some good sport at the recently re-opened Tiffindell resort. Now, this being the highest resort in South Africa, you obviously have to get Up There... and what goes up must come down! I'll stop the philosophical rambling and get to the point. There are two passes that lead up to Tiffindell; one from Rhodes village and the other from the Wartrail valley. From Rhodes, you take the Carlisleshoek Pass up to Tiffindell, and can then go down to Wartrail via the Volunteershoek Pass (or vice versa, of course). Both passes offer...

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Beautiful Dancers

Nightjar Travel 3:40pm 12 Nov

Aren't these guys just the most beautiful dancers..?  Although our Facebook commenters note that they pack quite the bite!

Grey Crowned Cranes at the top of Naude's Neck; Eastern Cape.

Image from the Nightjar Gallery

View the discussion on Facebook.

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shane 11:45am 11 Sep

It’s time to do the flowers again. How quickly the season comes round, lifting us from the depression of the grey Cape winter. With the floral marketing campaign in full swing, tourists will be flocking up the West Coast in their tour buses or hired cars. They’ll be largely ignoring the profusion of daisies at the roadsides as they focus on their promised land – Namaqualand. Of course Namaqualand deserves this fame: when the rains have been good it puts on a magnificent display. But...

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shane 8:09pm 14 Jun

Words by Mike Lillyman.  Pictures Mike Lillyman, Richard van Ryneveld and Mark Addison

The Sardine Run starts at the lighthouse at Port St Johns between 7 and 10 June each year. The South African historian and author T.V. Bulpin assured readers of his book, Natal and the Zulu Country, published over 55 years ago, that this was indeed the case – and, surprisingly, contemporary experts of the phenomenon agree that it still is.

Once the sardines have...

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