Amatola Region

The Amatolas stretch into the hinterland just north of Grahamstown and west of Stutterheim, their slopes covered in dense natural forests

Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Amatola Region, Eastern Cape

The Amatolas stretch into the hinterland just north of Grahamstown and west of Stutterheim, their slopes covered in dense natural forests of white stinkwoods, yellowwood trees, gorgeous Cape chestnuts, and a myriad other indigenous trees. Some of the peaks are decked with snow in winter and reach over 2000 metres, providing wonderful forest trails and a prolific bird life.

Where? Amatola Region, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Overnight? See Amatola accommodation, in Eastern Cape

Nestling in their shadow in the valleys are a cluster of villages, a mission station, churches and towns that line the valleys of an area not only rich in history but in incredible scenery too. This is frontier country and many of the settlements, such as Cathcart, Fort Beaufort and Adelaide began as military outposts, whilst towns like Stutterheim served as a settlement for disbanded soldiers of the British German Legion, hence the name. Other towns like Alice and the beautiful Hogsback have a more peaceful origin - Hogsback’s first citizens were farmers.

Rather than driving straight through the rather arid area between East London and the Amatola mountains, stop en route to take in some of the province's history and culture. Steve Biko's grave is in King William's Town and a wonderful collection of African art is at Fort Hare University.

The treasures of the Amatola region are, without doubt, the pockets of original Afro-Montane rainforest that remain protected today - the Knysna and Amatole forests are South Africa’s largest individual forests. The Amatola Hiking Trail, ranked as one of the country’s top mountainous forest-clad walks, is 105 kilometres and six days of strenuous walking, from King William’s Town to Hogsback through immense, spacious indigenous forest, incredible waterfalls, crystal pools and rushing trout streams.

But you don’t have to climb the mountains to benefit from the beauty of the Amatolas. Rambles and walks in the area around Hogsback will take you past clear mountain streams and waterfalls, and provide scenery over which to lose your breath, without the exertion that accompanies a hike.

In the west of the Amatola range is the area known as the Katberg. It is a special experience to climb the Katberg Pass - a rather rough, untarred road - past incredible rocky slopes rich in forest with some of the most remarkable views in the area.

Popular Towns in the Amatola Region

Adelaide

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Lying just south of the Winterberg Mountains, seeped in settler history, Adelaide is a charming little town some 37 kilometres from Fort Beaufort - one of the largest towns in the area that also happens to boast one of the finest...

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Bedford

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Just west off the N10 between Cradock and Cookhouse lies the settler town of Bedford on the southern edge of the Winterberg mountain range. It lies in what is termed the smaldeel, probably Dutch for 'small section' as it refers to a rather...

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Cathcart

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The little town of Cathcart, set in the foothills of the Amatola, is something of a sanctuary, although its popularity amongst the gliding fraternity means that numerous gliders take off from the nearby hills, their silent and somewhat eerie...

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Cintsa

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The quaint little seaside village of Cintsa (or Chintsa), lies just 45 kilometres north east of East London. It is often mistakenly regarded as part of the Wild Coast, and though it lies very close to it, manages to fall just outside. Nonetheless, this...

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Cove Rock

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The exquisite coastal stretch of Cove Rock covers one kilometre of the Eastern Cape shores, just minutes away from the heart of East London. This continues to be one of the most significant industrial cities of the Eastern Cape Province as it...

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East London

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A city that still manages to retain some of its old fashioned values blended with a dollop of laidback charm makes East London - the gateway to the wild coast and the sunshine coast and the only river port in South Africa - one of the most appeal...

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Fort Beaufort

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Lying in the heart of the citrus farming Katriver Valley, Fort Beaufort is a little historical town that dates back to 1822, when a frontier post was established here by the British, who occupied the town until 1870 during a period of struggle for...

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Gonubie

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The little beachside village of Gonubie, considered fondly by East Londoners as theirs, lies on the beautiful estuary of the Gonubie River just eight kilometres outside of East London, perfectly placed to act as a stopover en route to Cape Town or...

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Hogsback

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On the western end of the forested Amatola Mountains lies a village, overlooked by mountains and surrounded by indigenous Afro-montane forests that are centuries old, called Hogsback. It lies only an hour-and-a-half’s journey from...

More information and photographs: Hogsback Information

Katberg

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About 30 kilometres from Hogsback and close on two hours from East London, the little town of Katberg lies in enviable countryside. Citrus orchards, green lucerne fields, clear rivers and soft green valleys with forested ravines - this part of the...

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Keiskammahoek

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Most people who visit Keiskammahoek come here for the history. There are still remnants of incredible architectural heritage that date back to a time when the village was known as 'the camp in the mountains' – a British military outpost...

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Kidds Beach

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The little seaside village of Kidds Beach, just 30 kilometres from East London, lies on the rocky shore of the Indian Ocean, its beach an uninterrupted landscape of white sand and sea, and little else to interfere with its sheer beauty...

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King Williams Town

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Considered one of the most interesting towns to visit in the region, along with Grahamstown, King Williams Town began its life on the banks of the Buffalo River as a mission station in 1834. About 50km west of East London, King William's Town is...

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Molteno

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Regarded as the coldest town in South Africa and home to Ouma rusks and the Stormberg biltong factory, the little farming village of Molteno lies north west of Hofmeyr, roughly 13 kilometres from the town of Stormberg - where the famous Battle...

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Steynsburg

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The small village of Steynsburg is secluded within the gorgeous mountain ranges of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. At only 17.4 square kilometres in area, this little town is home to hundreds of households, or about 8 000 people...

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Stutterheim

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Lying nestled at the feet of the eastern slopes of the Kologha Mountains, the little town of Stutterheim is on the N6 to East London, is easy to reach, and is situated in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the country. The area has a fair...

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Tarkastad

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Set against the dramatic Winterberg Mountains, between Cradock and Queenstown, only three hours from Port Elizabeth, Tarkastad is a typical Karoo town on the banks of the Tarka River, its streets lined with quaint historical buildings. Just...

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Winterberg

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Winterberg lies virtually in the shadow of the Winterberg Mountains that include some of the highest peaks in the province, roughly 20 kilometres from Tarkastad. Winterberg is beautiful. The valley scenery bounded as it is by majestic mountains...

More information and photographs: Winterberg Information

Winterstrand

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Winterstrand is a small, quiet village along the coast of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, about 25 kilometres from East London. This is one of the ever-growing cities of the province, home to an enormous industrial sector and the only...

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Did you know?

The Amatola region is one of the most beautiful and diverse in the Eastern Cape.

When people refer to the Amatola Mountains, it is the village of Hogsback that springs to mind and indeed, this historical place, steeped in lush vegetation, art, literature and a sense of enchantment is one of the highlights of any trip to the region.

One of the Amatola hiking trails extends for six days and is recognised as one of the best trails in the country.

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