This is the most underdeveloped province in South Africa, but is rich in cultural heritage.
The capital, Port Elizabeth, is full of scenery including vast coastline, rolling hills, forests, Drakensberg Mountains, and plenty of outdoor activities. The city is also the transport hub of the Eastern Cape. Located along the coast is the birthplace of former South Africa Presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. There are two traditional regions and home of the Xhosa people; the Transkei and Ciskey.
If you are looking for a place to hang out or meet new people in Eastern Cape, these are the most popular and busiest places you can find them:
Despite being a small town, tourists love coming here especially for the annual World Surf League Event. It is one of the best surfing spots in the world and is renowned for its waves.
For good surfing, May and September provide the best swells. However, the prime time for surfing is between December through February when the weather is warm and sunny and the water warms up. Jeffrey’s Bay is also famous for whale watching during migration seasons between June and October.
The coastline, lush forest and wide rivers flow into the sea. The Famous Garden Route, a scenic 200km route is also home to the Storms River Suspension Bridge. It is a great place for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and mountain biking.
Get to catch a glimpse of whales, porpoise,s and dolphins as they play offshore.
The city lies at the end of the Garden Route and is one of the largest cities in South Africa. The beautiful coastline and the surf spots are popular destinations for both local and foreign tourists. Depending on the time of the year, you could get to enjoy whale watching cruises and spot migrating humpbacks, Southern right whales and Bryde’s whales.
Located just a short distance from Port Elizabeth, this is the third-largest national park in South Africa. It is one of the best places to watch some of the largest mammals such as the more than 600 elephants in the park, lions, rhinos, Cape Buffaloes and leopards.
Popular activities here include camping, hiking, mountain biking on the famous Zuurberg Mountains or strolling along the sandy dunes in the coastal region.
Located in Nieu Bethesda, this museum showcases a world of concrete and glass animals, all made by Helen Martins and her helper Kool Malgas. She began her work in 1945, a project to decorate her home and garden. All the creatures are made from cement, glass and wire with almost every wall of the interior of the house covered in crushed glass.
Apart from its beautiful attractions, the Eastern Cape is well known for its exports to other provinces and countries. The top exports are vehicles, aircraft and vessels, machinery and textiles. The first three account for approximately 73.4% of the total export products.
Eastern Cape is also known to export precious metal, vegetables, rawhide and leather, and red meat to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
South Africa is the largest exporter of navel oranges in the Southern Hemisphere, producing approximately 26,000,000 15kg-cartons for export.
More than 40% of people in the Eastern Cape live in poverty. This is according to a report by the Institute of Race Relations in South Africa, which also indicates that only 68.9% of Eastern Cape residents live in formal homes, with only 13% using electricity for heating.
It is estimated that approximately 326,000 people left the province between 2011 and 2016, for ‘better-performing regions’ like the Western Cape.
The Wild Coast region is largely populated by rural Xhosa. They are still very traditional and their practices and beliefs have restricted offshore activities such as fishing and diving.
The Eastern Cape province has numerous spas and wellness centres where you can get to relax and unwind after long daytime adventures. The Xhosa people use traditional methods during treatments and they involve the use of plants.
The treatments are made from bark, leaves, roots, and bulbs of various plants that are ground into a fine powder. The powder is then mixed with water and drunk or smeared on the affected parts. These phytomedicines are known as imithi.
In the cities and towns, however, modern techniques are most preferred and are available at several spas and hotels with spa services.
Among the Xhosa of South Africa, traditional weddings were arranged by fathers and also involved the mothers and imilowo. Polygyny is practiced and is recognized under the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 1998. However, consent by the partners involved is required. This is because the Act tries to create a link between customary marriages and common-law marriages. In courting and marriage, the men are required to marry outside their own clan. Circumcision is mandatory before marriage.
Bridewealth (lobola) is in the form of cattle, which are transferred from the groom’s home to the family of the woman. At least 90% of marriages in urban areas still practice this tradition. The death of a woman terminates the marriage. However, this is not the case in the event the husband dies. The imilowo, a person acceptable to the deceased, takes care of the woman and her children.
The Eastern Cape Province is a popular destination for tourists who prefer the traditional way of life among the natives in rural areas. Human trafficking reports from South Africa have revealed that children are being trafficked from poor rural areas and farms in Eastern Cape to developed parts of the country and abroad for prostitution. The developed cities and towns in the Eastern Cape are also prime locations to get prostitutes working along the streets during the night.
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