Slummies (aka East London) has never really been in the tourism spotlight. Shame. It plods along and keeps to itself. But I’ll let you in on a little something… it’s hiding one of the best kept SA secrets – it’s mad coastline of adventure and tranquility at the same time. East London gives you access to the tip of the less-explored side of the Wild Coast. I was born on this side of the world, (I grew up in Joburg and now live in Cape Town) and still have family ties to it (a lot of family ties – they like to breed down there) and I spend a lot of time finding things to do on visits.
Here’s the deal. East London needs your help. It has so much to offer, yet the tourism there seems to have faded over the years. Lovely places open up and close down each year and it’s sad to see beautiful places go to waste. When you’re thinking about your next local holiday, why not give this area a little think-a-roo? They say that the only culture in East London is agriculture (ha ha ha ha, I can’t stop laughing at that), but if you do a little digging you will find some really raw and exciting experiences for a fraction of the cost of most other South African holiday experiences.
I’ve just been there for a few days and done this fun stuff – go on!
Coffee at Lavender Blue
This cute little restaurant in Beacon Bay is a restaurant, coffee shop, clothing store, organic market, nursery and clothing store. It’s just lovely. It’s technically not on the Wild Coast, but a good place to start 🙂
Quad bike game viewing
Stop off at Areena (about 30km from East London itself, along the Wild Coast Resorts road) for some adventure activities. I took my little nephew for a 2 hour game drive on quad bikes. We got up close and personal with a giraffe and some bokkies and was great fun. They do lots of other adventure activities too. We had just had a few days of heavy rain (unusual for this time of the year), so the paths were muddy and immensely fun (the muddy river gave a good rustic feel to it all too)!
Horse riding on the beach
One of the highlights of the area is the laid-back backpacker vibes of Cintsa, and a very special horse experience that I found… Cintsa Horses offers bush and beach horse trails for the whole family on their ever-so-sweet ponies.
You don’t need to be an experienced rider, just under 90kg and over the age of 4 (I think – best to check with them). It’s easy to get in on a 2-2,5 hour ride through the bush and onto the beach where you can literally ride away your troubles. Literally. The ponies are sweet and easy to ride and they are trusting and happy.
They are also working horses. They make the money to feed themselves and the other 45 rehab horses on the Cintsa Horses farm. The Dickersons have taken it upon themselves to save the abandoned, abused, ill-treated and unwanted horses along the coast and the trails help to fund their efforts. Georgie and Penny are wonderful people – I got to chat to them a bit more about it all over a cup of tea in their farm house. They’ve been through a lot and they do amazing things.
I’d highly recommend a ride out with these guys, it’s awesome. Maybe I’ll volunteer on my next visit, they also offer volunteership opportunities – now there’s an awesome holiday experience right there…
Hippy Vibes at Barefoot Cafe
This restaurant tucked away down by Cintsa East Beach is a perfect spot for great pizzas, burgers, drinks and chilled out vibes. It’s got some strange decor going on too, awesome. Here’s some more on it.
Lazy, winding drives
The roads along this coast are beautiful. Winding through the rolling hills and discovering some hidden places along the way are well worth it.
And that was all in just 3 days… imagine what you can do with a week or more!
Oh wait – here’s an idea:
Keep on going and you’ll get to the breathtaking Transkei. Wow, just wow. See one of my previous posts about this heavenly place. If you’ve never been to the Transkei before, grab yourself a good ride (a tiny little rental may not be the best idea on those roads, but definitely interesting) and get out there.
Love South Africa. Love what’s right here. Support local tourism.