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Last updated : Nov 2009
Settler County
Settler County - TravelPuppy.com
East of Port Elizabeth, Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea are attractive little holiday towns, Port Alfred situated on the mouth of the Kowie River. Canoeing trips are available from Port Alfred to Bathurst, home of The Pig and Whistle, the oldest pub in South Africa (1831).

A short distance inland, Victorian Grahamstown is home to 1 of South Africa’s top universities and hosts a massive annual arts festival each July. The town has several fine buildings, amongst which the most interesting are the Cathedral of St Michael and St George, located in the triangular Church Square, the 1820 Settlers Monument (after the 1st British to settle the area), Fort Selwyn, and rows of shops and houses on Artificers’ Square, Church Square, Hill Street and MacDonald Street.

The town also has many excellent museums, including the History Museum, Albany Museum, Natural Sciences Museum and the International Library of African Music. Traditional Xhosa meals are offered by local development projects.

Fort Hare University, in the nearby town of Alice, was South Africa’s first black university and was founded in 1916. King William’s Town is a beautiful Victorian town and the birth and burial place of nationalist leader, Steve Bik. It also offers several stunning houses and the excellent Kaffrarian Museum.

1 hour’s drive from Grahamstown lies the village of Hogsback, located in the striking Amatola Mountains. It is an ideal place to walk in the forest of stinkwood, yellowwood and Cape chestnut trees along trails to amazing waterfalls, the most spectacular being the appropriately named Bridal Veil and Madonna and Child.

East London and the Wild Coast

East London, built on the mouth of the Buffalo River, is not only South Africa’s 4th largest port, but a well-liked seaside resort with a subtropical climate, stunning beaches and some of the best surfing in South Africa. Nahoon Beach, Eastern Beach and Orient Beach offer excellent swimming.

East London presents a beautiful city with some interesting museums and monuments, notably, the East London Museum (with the world’s only Dodo egg and a stuffed coelacanth), the Gately House Museum, which was built in 1878, the Anne Bryant Art Gallery, with an interesting collection of contemporary South African art, a wonderful Aquarium, pretty Botanical Gardens, 19th century Fort Glamorgan, and the Hood Point Lighthouse. Latimer’s Landing has a variety of good shops and restaurants.

Heading west, the Wild Coast’s history (as a black ‘homeland’) and lack of roads have left it splendidly undeveloped. This is a outstandingly beautiful area of wild cliffs and hidden coves, several parts of it inaccessible to normal vehicles. The main road runs inland through the Eastern Cape’s uneventful capital, Umtata, with occasional dirt roads winding down to the water’s edge. Nelson Mandela was born in and has retired to Qunu, 34 kilometres (20 miles) west of Umtata on the East London road.

The main tourist town in the area is Port St Johns, which is also the closest thing South Africa has to a hippy hangout. Both here and at several coves and rivermouths along the coast are small, hideaway lodges perfect for travellers who want to relax or fish away from the crowds. Just before the Kwazulu - Natal Border, the Wild Coast Sun, with its casino and water park, is an rapid introduction to the more developed coast near Durban.

To the north is the southern end of the Drakensberg Mountains. South Africa’s only ski resort, Tiffendel, is near the small village of Rhodes, where hiking, trout fishing and pony trekking are all possible.
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