Eastern Cape Attractions
Eastern Cape Province is a diverse and mainly undeveloped area. Its landscape ranges from unspoiled forest to semi-desert, from sandstone cliffs to the green swath of coastline that begins in the Tsisikamma Coastal National Park and follows through to the sub-tropical Wild Coast. Heavy rainfall over the mountains can result in snow.Inland, the rolling hills around Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth are known as Settler Country after the British migrants who settled the area in the early 19th C. Most of the Eastern Cape's population is Xhosa-speaking.The national parks and reserves are home to a wealth of wildlife including the rare mountain zebra. The Eastern Cape also has some of the finest displays of prehistoric art in the form of rock paintings.
Burgersdorp, in the north of the Eastern Cape, was founded in 1847 and is now a center of stock-farming and the woolen industry. When the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Peregrine Maitland, refused to allow the town to be named after him the townspeople named it Burgersdorp, the "burghers' village". It was the seat of South Africa's first theological university, which was later moved to Potchefstroom.Burgersdorp is a quiet little country town with a number of buildings which have been declared national monuments, among them the old prison and the church. The former parsonage is now a museum. In Burger Square is the Taal (Language) Monument, erected in 1892. The town played an important part in the promotion of the Afrikaans language in South Africa.
Die Berg Nature Reserve
Near Burgersdorp is Die Berg Nature Reserve (area 425ha/1,050ac), with many species of game. From the reserve there is a footpath to the J. L. De Bruin Dam, which has excellent facilities for water sports.
The town of Aliwal North, famed for its warm mineral springs, lies on the south bank of the Orange River, near the Lesotho border.The name of the town, which was founded in 1849, commemorates the victory of Sir Harry Smith, governor of the Cape Colony from 1847 to 1852, over the Sikhs at Aliwal (India) in 1846. The "North" distinguishes it from Aliwal South, the old name of Mossel Bay.
Two hot springs have a daily flow of over 2.5 million liters (550,000 gallons) of water at a temperature of 34.4°C/93.9°F, coming from a depth of 1,280m/4,200ft, which is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. The extensive spa complex includes two large swimming pools.
Buffelsvlei Farmhouse & Old Church
There are displays illustrating the history of the town in Buffelsvlei Farmhouse (near the spa establishment) and the Old Library (1876). The old church (1864) is also a museum (opened 1987), after previously serving as a market hall, a cinema and a warehouse.
Buffelspruit Nature Reserve
On the Krasi River, 2km/1.25mi miles from Aliwal North, is the Buffelspruit Nature Reserve in which numerous species formerly found in this area have been re-established, including springboks, elands, ostriches, zebras and oryxes.
Opening hours: May 1 to Sep 30: 11am-4:30pm
Oct 1 to Apr 30: 10am-6pm
Oct 1 to Apr 30: 10am-6pm
Queenstown, situated in the narrow corridor between the former homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, is the commercial, administrative and cultural center of a fertile agricultural region. It has little of tourist interest, but, as a modern town with hotels, restaurants and shops, may be a convenient stopover on a long journey. There are two museums with material of local interest.
Lawrence de Lange Game Reserve
The Lawrence de Lange Game Reserve occupies an area of 818 ha/2,020ac on the slopes of the Madeira Mountain, just outside the town. A 7km/4.5mi long hiking trail runs through the reserve to the summit of the hill, on which, with luck, visitors may see kudus, springboks, blesboks, red hartebeests, black wildebeests, impalas, gemsboks, elands and steppe zebras.
Opening hours: 8am-5pm
Walter Everitt Sunken Gardens
Queenstown is a town of parks and gardens. Among the finest are the Walter Everitt Sunken Gardens, with two lakes surrounded by lush vegetation which attract many water birds.
The National Literary Museum is housed in a building in which the "Eastern Star" was printed - predecessor of the "Star", the Johannesburg daily which now has the biggest circulation in South Africa.
Address: Bag 1019, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape 6140, South Africa
Opening hours: 8:30am-1pm, 2pm-4:30pm; Closed: Sun, Sat