On the Wild Side
This area was virtually denuded of game to make way for cattle farms but, due to the difficult farming conditions, much of it is slowly being returned to natural bush. The Addo Elephant National Park, near Port Elizabeth, is one of the best known parks in the area. It was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 elephants in the area and is yet another of the success stories of conservation in South Africa. Besides elephant, there are a few black rhino and many species of smaller game. All booking and enquiries must be done through the National Parks Board. The Sam Knott, Andries Vosloo and Double Drift reserves near Grahamstown have been consolidated and together make up one of the largest conservation areas in the Eastern Cape, known as the Great Fish River Complex, where you may see black rhino, buffalo, kudu and many other smaller species Booking is through Eastern Cape Tourism Board.
Go to Outdoor South Africa: Eastern Cape for more information on public lands and hiking in the area.
Shamwari Walking Safari
Between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown is the quite newly proclaimed private game reserve of Shamwari. It is very upmarket and most of the guests limit their activities to game drives. You can, however, choose to do a walking safari, under the guidance of an armed ranger, and approach large game such as elephants and black and white rhino. Accommodation options include two luxurious lodges or, for the more budget conscious, two self-catering cottages, which are quite affordable for groups of up to six people. The main selling point of this reserve, as compared with most other private game parks in southern Africa, is its position in a malaria-free area.
Mountain Zebra Hiking Trail
This trail offers a unique opportunity to approach the rather rare Cape mountain zebra in the wild, on foot. Besides zebra you are likely to see mountain reedbuck, eland, kudu, springbok, blesbok, black wildebeest and red hartebeest.
The trail is usually done over three days and is not too strenuous. Accommodation is in comfortable, but very basic, huts. Booking is through the National Parks Board.
While in the Area: Olive Schreiner's home in Cradock has been converted into a museum. She was one of South Africa's greatest writers and is particularly remembered for her novel The Story of an African Farm, which would have been considered a feminist work if the word had existed in her day. The Olive Schreiner Grave Trail is a short day-walk to her grave on a farm outside the town. The work of the artist Helen Martins, another interesting, strong and independent woman, may be seen at the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication