Located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, East London is home to the country’s only river port. Founded in 1836, East London lies on the coast of the Indian Ocean between the Buffalo River and Nahoon River. Its sub-tropical climate and beautiful natural environment make East London a popular tourist destination, with nearby safari reserves for those looking to catch a glimpse of the Big Five game animals.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Immerse yourself in the culture and traditional way of life of the native Xhosa tribe by visiting Khaya la Bantu village.
Commencing from the pier, you will be treated to the scenic beauty of Orient and Eastern beaches as you travel along the national highway. As the landscape becomes more rolling and agricultural, you will see several traditional villages of Xhosa, one of the primary ethnic groups in South Africa. Their language, one of nearly a dozen spoken in the area, is quite unusual because it involves aggressive tongue clicking.
Arriving at the Xhosa village of Khaya la Bantu, you will discover the rich heritage of these native South Africans, beginning with a welcome dance accompanied by rhythmic drumming and singing. Watching the Xhosa, dressed in colorful costumes and beads, is a joyous experience. Your in-village guides will be Mama Tofu and her daughter Zinzi, who will introduce you to the other villagers and happily answers questions about traditional Xhosa daily life.
Many of the buildings in Khaya la Bantu are made of mud, interwoven branches and thatching for the roofs. While touring the village, you might sample a potent beer concoction at the Chief's burial site, visit several ritual huts, listen to healers known as sangomas and watch a vigorous display of stick fighting. You will also have the opportunity to learn how the Xhosa create their intricate beadwork, which is for sale in the crafts store.
Following an unforgettable visit of approximately 2-hours, you will bid farewell to these charming villagers and board your coach for the transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2-hours of walking/standing. There are some steps and uneven surfaces to negotiate. This tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Comfortable, weather appropriate clothing; a light jacket or sweater; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Mini-skirts, bare shoulders, revealing clothing and flashy jewelry are not considered appropriate for this tour. The restroom facilities at Khaya La Bantu are very basic. Permission must be obtained prior to taking pictures of those other than your host or guides and it is requested that guests do not give children sweets or money. If you should wish to make a donation or give a gift, please consult with your guide first. The order of the sights viewed or visited may vary. Only local currencly is accepted at the handicraft store.
Depart the pier and proceed to East London's city centre. Drive along Oxford Street, passing the City Hall, built in 1897, in the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign. Today, the City Hall is graced with a statue of the martyred activist, Stephen Biko.
In 1836, the British established East London as a military post, which they used as a base during the Xhosa wars. The arrival of German settlers, who had been serving as mercenaries in the British-German Legion, gave the place at the mouth of the Buffalo River an economic boost - and in 1873 East London was given town rights.
Continue to the East London Museum, which was established in 1921. It is home to a number of fine exhibits, including the type specimen of the coelacanth, a fish previously believed to have become extinct some 80 million years ago. Other notable exhibits include a reconstruction of the extinct dodo of Mauritius along with the only known dodo egg in the world, as well as an extensive collection of beadwork relating to the Xhosa-speaking people, and the Nahoon Footprints.
In 1964, some construction workers at Bats Cave on the Nahoon Bluff corner noticed some strange shapes in the bedrock and on further investigation recognized them to be the fossilized footprints of a child, belonging to the archaic hominid period. 200 000 years ago, the conditions would have been perfect for the child to have been able to create these tracks and they then lay undisturbed for eons, fossilizing over time. Large slabs of sandstone that contained the tracks have been removed and can now be seen at the Museum.
Following this visit, proceed via the national highway through rural countryside en-route to the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve.
Next, you will have a self-guided visit at the Mercedes-Benz Coastal Education & Visitor Center. The center provides an informative eco-tourism facility to educate visitors to the area, with boards, photographs and touchscreens mounted on the walls, explaining the unique aspects of East London's coastal environment, the archaeological wealth of Nahoon including the Nahoon Footprints, the history of surfing at the Nahoon Reef, and the importance of environmental stewardship.
Take a short stroll along the wooden boardwalk that skirts the edge of the coastal dunes, to the site where the Fossil Footprints were found.
Afterwards, return to East London, passing by some of the residential suburbs, as well as Orient & Eastern beaches en-route. Stop to view the German Settlers Memorial, before continuing to the pier.
Drive through South Africa's breathtaking wild bush in an open-air vehicle, looking for lion, rhino, giraffe, and countless other indigenous animals on this exciting tour.
Setting off from the pier, you will head in a northerly direction, traveling past Orient and Eastern beaches en route to the luxurious, big five game reserve of Inkwenkwezi. Upon arriving, welcome by traditional Xhosa dancers and singers, set the tone for a wonderful day in the bush.
With its five different vegetation biomes, the diverse landscape here provides ideal natural habitats for a variety of animals. To enhance the experience, you'll ride along in an open-top 4X4 vehicle designed specifically for viewing game. Approximately two and a half hours in the bush provide plenty of opportunities to observe the abundant wildlife.
You might see a pride of lions lazing in the shade, zebra peacefully grazing, primitive-looking rhinoceroses wallowing in mud holes, and giraffe stretching their necks to nibble the treetops. Almost every imaginable African creature makes its home in the Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve, from rare Stanley's Bustards to graceful impala to massive African elephants. There are few experiences more memorable than driving through this expansive reserve, watching animals that in most instances are oblivious to your presence.
After what will surely be an unforgettable day, you will re-join your coach and transfer back to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes a minimal amount of walking; however there are some uneven and natural surfaces at the Game Reserve. The tour is not considered suitable for wheelchair guests and those with those with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability and must be able to make their own way into and out of the 4X4 vehicle. Comfortable, weather appropriate clothing; a light jacket or sweater; a hat; sunglasses; binoculars; sunscreen and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Permission must be obtained prior to taking pictures of those other than your host or guides and it is requested that guests do not give children sweets or money. If you should wish to make a donation or give a gift, please consult with your guide first. Minimum age to participate is 6 years old.
Experience the thrill of a morning game drive with an experienced ranger on this limited capacity tour.
From the pier, you'll enjoy a scenic 45-minute drive to the Mpongo Private Game Reserve, located only 22 miles from the city of East London. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed with a refreshing beverage before setting off in your open-air vehicle for a one of-a-kind game viewing adventure.
Home to elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalo, hippos, giraffes, numerous antelope and many bird species, Mpongo Private Game Reserve offers a unique blend of luxury and gaming experiences on over 8600 acres of conservation land. This magnificent reserve in the heart of the Eastern Cape boasts rolling hills, river valleys and luscious surroundings that cater to the heart of even the keenest eco-tourist.
Please note: This tour includes limited walking, but approximately 90-minutes of coach travel and up to 2-hours in an open-air 4X4 safari vehicle. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, can make their own way into and out of the vehicles with limited assistance, and have an able-bodied companion to help them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun hat; sunglasses; sunscreen; and flat, comfortable walking shoes.