Why your next road trip should be to the Eastern Cape

Remember when the Wild Child and I road-tripped to the Eastern Cape in April? Well, we did it again over the long weekend in September.

There’s a reason why this is one of our favourite holiday destinations. Several in fact.

Eastern Cape Road

The journey is wild

It takes us approximately eight hours to drive from Cape Town to our end destination of Jeffrey’s Bay and to be honest, the journey is the best part of the trip. No matter which route you take, the road takes you through some seriously amazing scenery: Robertson, with its snow-capped mountains, the picturesque countryside surrounding Swellendam, the crashing waves and mist that frames Wilderness, the shimmering Knysna lagoon, the breath-taking beauty and dizzying bridges of the Tsitsikamma National Park.

I love the view of the Kaaiman’s River appearing beneath the fern-covered ravine on the way to Wilderness and the still, silvery surface of the Swartvlei lake just outside Sedgefield. It’s sights like these that make the long drive completely worth it.

Jeffrey's Bay

Jeffrey’s Bay is a seaside paradise

Jeffrey’s Bay was recently named the Kwela Town of the Year. We arrived to see the celebratory festivities in full swing and a beachfront packed with people.

For me, Jeffrey’s Bay is a place to relax and restore the soul. The shore stretches on forever, the water is warm and perfect for swimming and I’m told whales and dolphins make regular appearances (although I didn’t spot any on my visit.)

The town is a haven for surfers, and one of the best ways to pass an afternoon is to take a seat right on the beach and watch the pros in action. The waves are huge and there’s never a shortage of surfers in the line-up taking advantage of the perfect conditions. Sunset is a relaxed affair, with the sky slowly changing to an array of pastels till the sun finally eases past the horizon. Morning is for shell collecting on Dolphin Beach as each day the tide tips a fresh batch on to the sand.

Addo

Nearby attractions not to be missed

To celebrate Heritage Day, the Wild Child and I spent the day at the Addo Elephant National Park just outside Port Elizabeth. The extensive reserve is home to several of the big five including elephant, lion, and leopard as well as a host of other species like hyena, kudu and warthog. The day of our visit was quite warm so no predators appeared, but the waterholes were full of elephant and warthog frolicking in the mud. We spied plenty of antelope and zebra as well as my first ever dung beetle. But the best sighting of the day was a huge herd of elephants marching through the yellow spring flowers.

Next time we plan to check out the residents of the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay. The decision was made after we encountered the sweetest vervet monkey on the way to Cape St Francis. I definitely want to spend more time with these guys.

Die Walskipper

The food is amazing

I left my diet at home during this road trip for good reason – the seafood in Jeffrey’s Bay is out of this word.

We had a delicious seafood platter at Die Walskipper, an awesome beach shack right on the surf that serves their food and drink (including moerkoffie) on enamel plates and cups. All fish on the menu is braaied right on the beach, and it’s absolutely divine.

Kitchen Windows, a corner spot on Dolphin Beach, also boasts a killer sea view. Everything on the menu is great, especially the mussels, which are some of the best I’ve ever had.

As for dessert, a little roadside hidden gem called Suikerboossie specialises in unreasonably large filled pancakes.

On the way home, we stopped in Swellendam for breakfast, specifically roosterkoek, which is available at all the quaint little restaurants in this must-see historic town.

Chances are we’ll probably be road tripping to the Eastern Cape again in the near future. There is so much to see and do (and eat). Reasons not mentioned above: sightseeing in St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis, the bargains at the Billabong factory shop at Surfer’s Corner, granadilla and pineapple konfyt from the InFood deli, playing Eye Spy during the car trip back, Wimpy.

Here are some more photo highlights from our trip:

Elephant at Addo

suikerbossie pancake

moerkoffie

JBay

PS: Die Pampoenstalletjie just outside Robertson is worth popping into for the mountains of pumpkins out front.

pampoenstalletjie

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