June 9, 2023

Adventures await east of South Africa’s more famous cape

The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, South Africa, grants an in-depth look at his extraordinary life.
While South Africa’s Western Cape is a given for most travelers to the country, it shouldn’t preclude a trip to the Eastern Cape where the history is as compelling as its landscape. From the scholarly to the daring, here are some of the experiences awaiting you.

Mandela’s Home
Nelson Mandela, the first black to serve as President, remains an icon in South Africa. And though he passed his aging days in Johannesburg, he spent his childhood in the Eastern Cape and his home, school, and family burial plot are all on view in the village of Qunu.

Safari After Dark
Since many of South Africa’s animals sleep during the hot daylight hours, reserving their energy for nocturnal prowls, nighttime safaris up the action ante. Another major selling point of the private game reserves in the Eastern Cape? They’re malaria-free. Kwandwe, Shamwari, and Samara are the best of the bunch and Samara’s cheetah restoration program includes Sibella, a rescued mother who has birthed 18 cubs.

Bungee Jumping
Thrill seekers should find the 708-foot drop from The Bloukrans Bridge – the world’s highest commercially-operated bungee jump – a suitably exhilarating place from which to hurl themselves. Still used for traffic, part of the rush comes from walking out to the center of the bridge to the jump platform that teeters beneath the road.

Small Town Treasures
Rent a car to find towns like Graaff-Reinet, South Africa’s fourth-oldest, which boasts more national monuments (220) than anywhere else in the country as well as dozens of examples of 17th century Cape Dutch architecture. Surrounding the town is Camdeboo National Park where the Valley of Desolation, a 2,624-foot sheer cliff face, speaks to the forcefulness and beauty of nature.

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