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The South African province of Eastern Cape is located in the homelands of the Xhosa people, from which prominent personalities such as Nelson Mandela hail. Known for its stunning landscapes, with coastlines facing the Indian Ocean, deserts in the west and nature reserves in the interior, the province offers superb driving terrain. The capital, Bhisho, is sidestepped by many visitors for Port Elizabeth, the province’s largest city and main transport hub.
With the province featuring largely excellent roads dotted with comfortable hotels and guesthouses, car hire in Eastern Cape is a popular way of getting around. It is easy to find rental companies in the major cities. Yet it is best to compare car hire in advance because major companies represented here, such Avis, Hertz and Europcar, often offer deals.
The two main airports are Port Elizabeth Airport and East London Airport, both of which are situated along the coast. Both receive domestic flights from major cities in South Africa. Spoornet runs passenger trains from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and East London. Visitors with car rental in Eastern Cape can connect with Cape Town via the N2. Those coming from Johannesburg can take the N1 south.
In South Africa, driving is on the left-hand side of the road. On national highways, the speed limit is generally 120kph and on secondary roads, 100kph. The driving skills of local drivers vary considerably, so visitors should drive with caution and always wear a seatbelt.
Driving along the Eastern Cape's beautiful coastline, along highway N2, is one of the most popular tourist activities in this part of the country. This route, part of which makes up the famous Garden Route, passes through the exciting cities of Port Elizabeth and East London before continuing north along the Wild Coast, where further spectacular coastal scenery awaits. A visit to Eastern Cape's national parks and nature reserves is also recommended.
The climate in Eastern Cape differs from east and west, with considerable variation in weather between the two. The west is drier, with warm summers and cold winters. The east experiences more precipitation in the summer and the climate here is largely subtropical. High season for travel is December to January.