7 Eastern Cape attractions to explore during Mandela Month
The Eastern Cape is home to glorious stretches of beaches, lush green landscapes and jaw-dropping rock formations, but it also prides itself in being the home province of late global icon and humanitarian Nelson Mandela.
Madiba was born and raised among in Eastern Cape. To celebrate the globally-acclaimed leader's birthday in July, South African Tourism compiled a list of attractions to visit in his hometown.
Qunu is a small rural village in the Eastern Cape that is filled with lush rolling hills and dotted with large smooth rocks. Qunu is also where Madiba was laid to rest.
His great-granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, said Mandela's contribution to the history of South Africa was proof of his love for our beautiful country.
"He, especially, held the following places in rural Eastern Cape in high regard: Qunu, the birthplace of his mother, Mqhekezweni, where he grew up under the stewardship of his cousin Chief Jongintaba; and lastly his birthplace Mvezo," she said.
Mvezo lies on the banks of the Mbashe River in the Eastern Cape. It boasts picturesque landscapes laden with profound historical and spiritual lessons. While touring the ruins of the original Mandela Homestead, where the hut in which Mandela was born stands dilapidated, expect to be welcomed by land that depicts barrenness, lushness, and healing.
The Donkin Reserve forms part of Route 67, a historical and modern trail consisting of public artworks symbolising the 67 years Nelson Mandela dedicated to serving humanity. Also found in the Reserve is the Voting Line Sculpture, which pays homage to the late President Nelson Mandela. The nearby lighthouse, which was built in 1861, is open to the public and serves as the official Tourist Information Centre. Visit www.nmbt.co.za/listing/donkin_reserve_pyramid_and_lighthouse.html
Addo Elephant National Park
The game park is home to over 550 elephants, as well as the Cape Buffalo, Black Rhino, a variety of antelope species and the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. While here, also catch sightings of the Big 7, which include the elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, whale and the Great White Shark.
Valley of Desolation
Located inside the Cambedoo National Park in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa’s fourth oldest town, the Valley of Desolation is also known as the ‘cathedral of the mountains’. The piled dolerite columns stand like sentries against the Groot Karoo plain and allow for endless panoramic views of dry plains from its viewpoint cliffs.
Surf at Jeffrey's Bay
J-Bay, as it is commonly known to locals, is located an hour away from the city of Port Elizabeth. Renowned for its pristine beaches and inviting waves, Jeffreys Bay is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world. It provides the ideal ground for novice surfers to hone their skills, while also offering advanced surfers an opportunity to experience some blood-pumping action in the warm Indian Ocean.
Bungee jump off Bloukrans Bridge
The highest commercially built bridge in the world, standing at 216 meters above the Bloukrans River, the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy experience is a thrill-seeker's ultimate playground. If not in a daring mood, this bridge also provides the perfect setting for some awesome Instagram-worthy photographs with sweeping, lush valley views as your backdrop.