Cities You Need to Visit in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, East London – South Africa

Cities You Need to Visit in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, East London – South Africa

The Eastern Cape is the second largest province in South Africa.

The Eastern Cape landscape ranges from the dry desolate Great Karoo to the steamy forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley. The area also embraces the fertile Langkloof, renowned for its rich apple harvests, and is cradled by the mountainous southern Drakensberg.

The shoreline of this province extends from the Umtamvuna River in KwaZulu-Natal, to the Storms River mouth on the scenic Garden Route, in the west, and stretching inland, to the north, bordering on Lesotho. Today, the Eastern Cape incorporates the previously independent `homelands’ of the Ciskei and Transkei. Despite its colonial past, the Eastern Cape remains the home of the Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa. With its almost seven million people, the Eastern Cape has the third-largest provincial population, living on about 169 600 km2 of land.

Port Elizabeth

The industrial city of Port Elizabeth is the centre of the Eastern Cape region, known as ‘settler country’. The city was founded by shiploads of British settler families who arrived in the early 19th century hoping to improve their prospects after suffering economic hardship because of the industrial revolution at home.

The settlers was intended to be a defences against the local Xhosa people, who had been pushed back beyond the Fish River frontier.

Port Elizabeth was known as a small British Fort Frederick. The city ha grown from humble beginnings, into a large port and manufacturing centre.

Although it is very much a working town with a large indigent population living in the outlying township areas, Port Elizabeth draws lots of tourists.

The city is justifiably known as ‘the friendly city’ and Algoa Bay boasts 40 km of beautiful beaches lapped by the warm Indian Ocean. The beachfront is the venue for the annual Splash-festival and world boardsailing championships, and features a long promenade.

Port Elizabeth International Airport

Location: The airport is situated about two miles 3 km south of PE.

Time: GMT +2.

Contacts: Tel: +27 041 507 7319.

Transfer to the city: Taxis provide the only transport to the city centre.

Car rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Imperial and National.

Facilities: Facilities include several shops as well as restaurants, cafes and pubs, and conference facilities. An ATM is available for cash withdrawal.

Parking: Long and short-term parking is available.

East London

East London is the gateway to the Wild Coast, East London is a small city.

This friendly city is on the Indian Ocean where activities like surfing, fishing and golf. The city centre branches out into business parks, malls and suburbs set in subtropical vegetation, which are dissected by a myriad of rivers such as the Buffalo and Nahoon, whose wide banks meander lazily into the ocean, offering locals excellent fishing, rowing and cruising opportunities.

Formerly a British fort, the city can be explored on foot. There are many attractions such as the East London Museum, that houses the prehistoric coelacanth and the city hall that should not be missed. It is best for visitors to have a car so that they can access various attractions dotted on the outskirts such as Steve Biko’s grave, the aquarium, the harbour which is the only river port in the southern hemisphere, and the superb seafood restaurants that line the beachfront.

It takes only 20 minutes from the bustle of this small city to one of the tranquil and isolated holiday villages on the coast where rolling hills of indigenous vegetation are met by long expanses of untouched beaches. Here visitors can go horse riding on the shore, visit the Gonubie Nature Reserve that has over 150 different bird species or stay at the Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve where the remarkable Big Five can be seen.

East London Airport

Location: The airport is located six miles 9 km west of the city centre.

Time: GMT +2.

Contacts: Tel: +27 043 706 0306.

Transfer to the City: Gateway Shuttle (tel: 043 743 139) and Redshuttle Bus Services leave from in front of the arrivals terminal. Bookings should be made in advance. Their schedule follows flight schedules.

Car rental: Rental companies at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Tempest.

Facilities: The airport has an ATM in the departures hall and information desk in the arrivals hall. A coffee shop, restaurant and bookshop are also available in the terminal building.


Visitors to the Eastern Cape should be aware of this part od our country has a high incidence of crime. Although this tends to be concentrated in pockets throughout the country, for example in the township areas, opportunistic crime is fairly widespread.

Travellers should always be aware of these risks and exercise the necessary precautions. Doors should be locked when driving and one should not walk alone at night in city streets, isolated beaches or remote areas.

Travellers should practice vigilance when using ATMs and not display unnecessary signs of wealth (e.g. mobile phones, money, expensive jewellery) on the streets. It is worthwhile noting that the South African authorities do give high priority to the protection of tourists.

Power outages are common throughout the country; frequent blackouts and rolling power cuts in January 2008 has forced the government to acknowledge that the country has an electricity crisis on its hands.