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.
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
Overnight? Accommodation in Adelaide
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...
More information and photographs: Adelaide Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Bedford
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...
More information and photographs: Bedford Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Cathcart
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...
More information and photographs: Cathcart Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Cintsa
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...
More information and photographs: Cintsa Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Cove Rock
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...
More information and photographs: Cove Rock Information
Overnight? Accommodation in East London
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...
More information and photographs: East London Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Fort Beaufort
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...
More information and photographs: Fort Beaufort Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Gonubie
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...
More information and photographs: Gonubie Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Hogsback
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
Overnight? Accommodation in Katberg
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...
More information and photographs: Katberg Information
Overnight? Accommodation Keiskammahoek
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...
More information and photographs: Keiskammahoek Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Kidds Beach
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...
More information and photographs: Kidds Beach Information
King Williams Town
Stay? Accommodation King Williams Town
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...
More information and photographs: King Williams Town Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Molteno
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...
More information and photographs: Molteno Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Steynsburg
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...
More information and photographs: Steynsburg Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Stutterheim
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...
More information and photographs: Stutterheim Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Tarkastad
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...
More information and photographs: Tarkastad Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Winterberg
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
Overnight? Accommodation in Winterstrand
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...
More information and photographs: Winterstrand Information