#EcoTravels - A nature lover's guide to the Eastern Cape

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Monday, 3rd September 2018

Calling all nature lovers - we've got more Eastern Cape green escapes for you to see! From lively wilderness experiences to tranquil nature reserves, hiking activities and city parks and gardens - the Eastern Cape is brimming with spots where you can enjoy the best works of Mother Nature.

CHECK OUT: From Addo to the Wild Coast: SA’s top wildlife experiences to add to your Eastern Cape itinerary 

For those looking to get wild...

If you're looking for an adventure or experience with a bit of bite - you might want to swing by one of these beautiful game and nature reserves:

Mount Camdeboo

Nestled in the Great Karoo, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve is nothing short of a natural beauty.

It boasts stunning rugged landscapes that feature mighty outcrops of rocky mountains and cliffs as well as lush greenery that carpets the land.

The 14 000-hectare reserve has also just recently announced their plans to add lions and elephants to the reserve. This would make them home to the coveted Big Five - making Mount Camdeboo a must-see safari destination.

READ: Great Karoo reserve Mount Camdeboo elated with upcoming Big 5 status 

Mount Zebra National Park

Earn your stripes over at this lovely national park.

As its name indicates, it houses a large range of zebra - about over 700 Cape mountain zebra, but that's not the only wild walker out here.

Other animals that roam the lush grounds include buffalo, cheetah and even lion - so keep your eyes peeled for some stunning sightings.

SEE: No time for tame: Your guide to the top attractions on the Wild Coast

Tsolwana Nature Reserve

Tsolwana sits snugly in the mountainous region set against the vast fields of grassy plains and is home to various game.

Its name derives from the Xhosa word 'spike' - which is indicative of a 1.9-metre conical shaped hill that sits prominently in Tsolwana Game Reserve. 

Some of the game you're likely to find include white rhino, giraffe, eland, blesbok, mountain reedbuck, Cape mountain zebra and springbok.

Bobbejaanskloof Private Nature Reserve

If you're looking for a bit of peace and restoration, you might want to swing by this swanky and elegant Karoo-style farmhouse.

It sits in a 150-hectare private nature reserve on a plateau at the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains.

You'll find the main house sitting deep in the crevice of a U-shaped kloof where extensive conservation efforts over the last 20 years have seen restoration of indigenous flora and the return of the shy bushbuck, porcupines, tortoises, storks, jackal buzzards, herons, ducks and the odd baboon.

ICYMI: #LoveSA: Get fishy around Eastern Cape's waters

Hiking trails...

If you're looking for a nice and scenic hiking route to try, why not trek one of these natural gems?

Blindekloof Walking Trails

This one-day hike takes you along the cool Blindekloof Stream to the Crystal Tavern Pool in the Groendal Wilderness area.

  • Distance: 16 km

Zuurberg Hiking Trails 

Intrepid explorers, outdoor enthusiasts and hikers alike have another reason to head on over to Addo Elephant National Park with the extension of its walking trails in the Zuurberg section. 

  • Distance: Choose between a 2km, 8km and 12km route

Hole in the Wall Coffee Bay trail

Trek what's dubbed the most notorious hike in Coffee Bay - the Hole in the Wall hike. The three-hour hike takes you to the phenomenal rock formation out in the ocean, with well, a literal hole through the middle where the Mpako River passes through.

Enjoy the bellowing sound of the rolling and crashing ocean waves against the base of the rock and the hole walls. The sound gives rise to its Xhosa name ‘esikhaleni’ - place of sound. 

  • Distance: 9km

For those looking for a lengthier and more challenging hike try the...

Wild Coast 5 day hiking trail - Port St Johns to Coffee Bay route

Between Coffee Bay and Port St Johns, the trail hugs a stretch of coastline along the former Transkei homeland, and is unspoiled and barely touched by development. 

You can expect a journey that takes you along rolling grassy hills speckled with colourful huts, picturesque beaches, estuaries flanked by thick coastal forest and cliffs with mesmerising sea views.

During the five-day long venture, hikers camp out in hikers’ huts and village accommodation.

You can also look forward to potentially learning a little bit of the Xhosa Language if you don't know it already and tasting delicious uniquely Xhosa cuisine.

And if you’re navigating the trail at the right time of the year, you might get lucky by spotting some dolphins and whales. 

Get a full guide of this incredible journey here.

  • Distance: about 70km in total - which is broken up over the five days

CHECK OUT: Wild Coast: The ultimate 5-day hiking guide

Natural nooks and crannies in cities...

If you're not in the mood or don't have the time for a long bush escape, why not slip into nature at one of these two green gems that thrive around the Eastern Cape's cities.

Buffalo River - East London

Need to just kick back alongside a scenic river? Well, look no further than the Buffalo River that runs through East London.

Grab a picnic, yoga mat, book or just your phone and head to the river for a mid-city unwind session. You could also get involved in some of the water activities from fishing to rowing - don't harbour regret by missing out on the fun.

St George's Park - Port Elizabeth

Roll around the grass and set up your relaxation station at St George's Park in Park Drive, Port Elizabeth.

Enter for free with some picnic goods, a group, with pets or alone with a book you've been meaning to read and unwind or snooze under the haze of the PE sun. 

Makana Botanical Gardens - Grahamstown

Immerse yourself in nature this spring with some of the prettiest flowers Grahamstown has to offer in tow.

Grab a snack, friend, book or just your thoughts and kick back to smell some flowers and perhaps snap them for the gram as well.

Article courtesy of Traveller24.com. Read more: https://www.traveller24.com/Explore/Bush/ecotravels-a-nature-lovers-guide-to-eastern-cape-20180831#cxrecs_s

Photo: iStock

Article by: Saara Mowlana

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