Getting Oriented

The Eastern Cape is a big space with many tiny gems. The towns, and even the cities, of the province are relatively small and often quaint, and the distances between them are often fairly large. Since the only airports are in Port Elizabeth, East London, and Mthatha (previously Umtata), the best way to experience the region is on a self-driving tour, leaving yourself plenty of time to explore (but be prepared for some poorly maintained roads in some regions of the Transkei).

Frontier Country and the Sunshine Coast. Formerly known as Settler Country, the Frontier Country stretches from the outskirts of Port Elizabeth to Port Alfred in the east, Grahamstown in the northeast, and the Zuurberg Mountains in the north. The area also encompasses Addo Elephant National Park and the game reserves at Shamwari, Kwandwe, and Grahamstown itself. The Sunshine Coast overlaps part of this area, running roughly from Cape St Francis for 500 km (310 miles) as far as East London via Port Elizabeth.

Amatole. This undulating region stretches along the coast from just beyond Port Alfred almost up to Port St Johns, overlapping with the Wild Coast from East London onward. But the larger part of this region stretches far into the hinterland, almost to Queenstown, with the picturesque mountain village of Hogsback found more or less at its heart.

Wild Coast. Lovely, long beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, with only a few cows and a small herder to break the isolation. Strictly speaking, the Wild Coast originally stretched from the Kei River mouth to Port Edward (which were the borders of the then nominally independent Transkei), but today it has spread almost to the outskirts of East London.

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