The Sands, St. Francis Bay, Eastern Cape

The Sands is an exclusive beach-side boutique hotel set alongside a pristine beach

The Sands is perfect for couples seeking  a retreat close to the beach with the soothing sounds of the Indian Ocean. There are five luxury suites and one honeymoon suite. All have sea views, a private deck overlooking the beach, a jacuzzi bath and the finest linen. The decor is modern, light and very tasteful. The property has two pools – one overlooking the ocean. There is a steam room for guests and spa treatments can be arranged. Accommodation is on a B&B basis but the in house restaurant can provide light lunches and an extensive al la carte dinner menu. The wine cellar has to be seen and sampled!

About The Sand’s Location

St Francis Bay is a quiet beach-side town set around a series of canals opening onto the Indian Ocean. Beach and countryside hikes are available. The beaches at nearby Cape St. Francis are pristine, dominated by the historic lighthouse which is the tallest in South Africa. A Penguin and seabird rescue centre is adjacent and there are numerous paths to hike into the coastal nature reserve. For the more adventurous, take a 4X4 excursion into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve which is one of the last remaining natural wilderness areas in South Africa. The close by Port St. Francis has some excellent fish restaurants featuring locally caught seafood. The area is known for the squid caught in the bay and called, locally, chokka. Additionally, you will find excellent hake, kingklip and Cape Salmon. For golf enthusiasts, St. Francis Bay has two rated courses including the Jack Nicklaus designed Links. Both courses are within a 5 minute drive. Day Safaris can be arranged at the sister property of Pumba Private Game Reserve where you will encounter their famous white lions.

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St. Francis Golf Lodge, St. Francis Bay, Eastern Cape

St. Francis Golf Lodge is a must for golfers set in an enviable position amid a Jack Nicklaus designed course

St. Francis Golf Lodge is a beautifully appointed and tastefully furnished hotel. The 10 stylishly decorated rooms are located on two separate buildings overlooking the first tee. All rooms have large en suite bathrooms. Two of the rooms (without views of the course)  are larger and feature a private patio complete with outdoor showers. Accommodation is on a B&B basis but the nearby clubhouse is available for lunches and for dinners on Mondays and Wednesdays. At other times, St. Francis Bay and Port St. Francis have good restaurants. Golf is, of course, a feature and guests have preferential green fees during their stay.

About St. Francis Golf Lodge’s Location

St Francis Bay is a quiet beach-side town set around a series of canals opening onto the Indian Ocean. Beach and countryside hikes are available. The beaches at nearby Cape St. Francis are pristine, dominated by the historic lighthouse which is the tallest in South Africa. A Penguin and seabird rescue centre is adjacent and there are numerous paths to hike into the coastal nature reserve. For the more adventurous, take a 4X4 excursion into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve which is one of the last remaining natural wilderness areas in South Africa. The close by Port St. Francis has some excellent fish restaurants featuring locally caught seafood. The area is known for the squid caught in the bay and called, locally, chokka. Additionally, you will find excellent hake, kingklip and Cape Salmon.

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Dune Ridge Country House, St. Francis Bay, Eastern Cape

Dune Ridge is the perfect spot to unwind either at the start of your holiday or at the end of your vacation

Dune Ridge is one of the most tranquil locations we have encountered. Close to the resort town of St. Francis Bay, the lodge is tucked away in the countryside. You can choose between two Garden Cottages, four Garden Suites and one Family Cottage. Whichever you select, you won’t be disappointed. The decor is very tasteful adding to the comfort of the serene environment. There is a pool to relax by, listening to the myriad of birds. Or, perhaps, you will be fortunate to spot one of the Nyala antelopes while you sip a cocktail on the terrace overlooking the gardens. Accommodation is on a B&B basis but the restaurant is available for dinner. Should you wish to be pampered, the lodge boasts a well equipped bush spa for your enjoyment.

About Dune Ridge’s Location

St Francis Bay is a quiet beach-side town set around a series of canals opening onto the Indian Ocean. Beach and countryside hikes are available. The beaches at nearby Cape St. Francis are pristine, dominated by the historic lighthouse which is the tallest in South Africa. A Penguin and seabird rescue centre is adjacent and there are numerous paths to hike into the coastal nature reserve. For the more adventurous, take a 4X4 excursion into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve which is one of the last remaining natural wilderness areas in South Africa. The close by Port St. Francis has some excellent fish restaurants featuring locally caught seafood. The area is known for the squid caught in the bay and called, locally, chokka. Additionally, you will find excellent hake, kingklip and Cape Salmon. For golf enthusiasts, St. Francis Bay has two rated courses including the Jack Nicklaus designed Links. Both courses are within a 5 minute drive.

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Cape St. Francis Resort, Cape St. Francis Eastern Cape

Cape St. Francis Resort is a good location for a family holiday in a relatively undiscovered location

Cape St. Francis Resort is an extensive development of houses which are mainly thatched close to an extensive and safe beach. We recommend the resort’s 5 star houses as other options tend to be very basic in terms of decoration and equipment. The houses are all 4+  bedrooms many with reasonably sized en suite bathrooms. The kitchens are well appointed with dishwasher and washing machine. The lounge area has satellite TV and outside you will find a small garden with a deck and pool. The resort does have a simple restaurant but we recommend either self catering or eating out. St Francis Bay and Port St Francis are only a short drive and have restaurants that serve excellent locally caught fish.

About Cape St. Francis Resort’s Location

This is a quiet and restful location and is good for relaxation alongside an excellent beach. You can, however,enjoy a lot of activities that can be arranged through the resort. There are extensive and interesting hikes along the coast from the lighthouse which, incidentally, is the tallest in South Africa. A penguin and sea bird rescue centre is adjacent to the lighthouse. Nearby St. Francis Bay is formed around a series of canals and canal cruises can be arranged. There are two good golf courses in St, Francis Bay including the renowned Links which is a Jack Nicklaus course. The resort also arranges guided 4X4 drives into the Baviaanskloof. This is one of the last remaining true wildernesses in South Africa. You will see some excellent examples of indigenous flora as well as wonderful birdlife. Baboons (Baviaan in Afrikaans) are in abundance and if you are really lucky you may just see a leopard. Nearby (30 minutes’ drive) Jeffrey’s Bay is South Africa’s surfing Mecca. The resort can also arrange a fascinating tour of the local township which will show you what a local community can do when it pulls together.

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Drosty Hotel, Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel, Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape

The Drostdy Hotel is a  great choice for those looking for somewhere off the beaten track with touches of luxury

The Drostdy is a stunning hotel set in the charming Karoo town of Graaf-Reinet. The Executive rooms are set in village style throughout the grounds in individual cottages. The rooms and bathrooms are larger than normal and are well appointed complete with air conditioning, flat screen tv and a claw foot bath as well as a large shower. The hotel has three swimming pools, a spa and gym, wine tasting venue and a great restaurant set in a relaxing garden. The hotel has an extensive wine cellar and you should indulge in wine tasting during your stay. The restaurant serves sumptuous breakfasts as well as lunches and an excellent dinner menu.

About the Drostdy Hotel’s Location

Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and although very Afrikaans, there are a lot of English touches. The main church is a stunning scaled down version of Salisbury Cathedral in England! The historic centre is full of thatched and metal roofed whitewashed cottages and this is the only town that is situated within its own National Park. The Camdeboo National Park includes the atmospheric and spectacular Valley of Desolation where you could imagine you are back in prehistory. It feels logical that this area has yielded some of the finest dinosaur fossils in southern Africa. While you are here you can visit the unusual and artistic community of Nieu Bethesda complete with its rather creepy Owl House which is now a national monument, a charming micro brewery which provides excellent lunches and there is also the ability to hunt for fossils in the river bed. You can also visit a number of private game reserves and the Mountain Zebra National Park which is an hour’s drive away.


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Zuurberg Mountain Village

An old favourite dating back 160 years with charming accommodation

For the slightly more adventurous, this is paradise, 25 kms along a good dirt road. This historic inn was first established at the summit of the Zuurberg Pass in 1850 and has recently been refurbished to a good standard. Accommodation is partly in the Manor House (5 rooms) or in 15, delightful Edwardian style chalets. These are comfortable and all have good-sized en – suite bathrooms. The views from the rooms are over the northern part of the Addo Park that feels a remote and unspoilt wilderness. This is truly a place to wind down and relax. The pool, with a swim up bar has breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside and in the evening the hotel’s own pub opens for a cooling glass of beer before you eat in the pretty dining room or in the equally delightful garden. The food is simple, traditional South African fare.

About the Location

Close to the hotel, you can enjoy guided walks, a 4×4 trail into the true wilderness of the Zuurberg extension of the Addo National Park. Horseback riding into the park can also be arranged. 30 minutes away, you can experience elephant back safaris. This location is approximately a 1 1/2 hour drive from Port Elizabeth airport. This can easily be incorporated into a trip to include one of the private game reserves in the Eastern Cape, a journey to include extraordinary Graaff-Reinet or just at the end or start of a trip along the Garden Route between Cape Town & Port Elizabeth.


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Eastern Cape Region

Eastern Cape

Weather in Eastern Cape

Summer (November – March) It can be hot with temperatures likely to reach 35C and it is generally dry.

Spring (September/October) Temperatures generally in the high  20C. There can be rain at this time of year and evenings and early mornings can feel chilly especially on a game drive.

Autumn (April/May) Temperatures generally in the high  20C. There can be rain at this time of year and evenings and early mornings can feel chilly especially on a game drive.

Winter (June – August) Mild with daytime temperatures rarely below 18C. This is the time of year when storms can occur.

Facts about the Eastern Cape

  • History  This is  an interesting area of historic conflict between the Xhosa and the Boers but in 1820 the British settled farmers here in 1820 promising them a land of milk and honey!
  • Beaches   There are some great beaches including Summerstrand, Kenton-on-Sea, East London, Coffee Bay, Umngazi River Mouth.
  • National Parks  The Addo National Park is one of the main attractions but there is also Cradock Mountain Zebra National Park as well as the Camdeboo National Park with the historic and scenic town of Graaff-Reinet at its centre.
  • Private Game Reserves are numerous and range from ultimate luxury to the more affordable.
  •  Towns  Port Elizabeth is rather tired but the historic centre is interesting. The Oceanarium is worth visiting as is the Boardwalk development. Grahamstown is the historic seat of learning in South Africa with Rhodes University.
  • Horse riding can be arranged at many of the properties featured.
  • Golf  There are a number of good golf courses in this area particularly around Jeffrey’s Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London and Grahamstown.
  • The Wild Coast is the most northerly and eastern part of the region and covers the area also known as Transkei. This is the home of the Xhosa tribe as well as the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. Here you will experience rural Africa with hilltops dotted with round thatched huts normally painted green, and deep river valleys. Where the main rivers arrive at the sea there are holiday locations with beautiful coastal scenery and evocative names such as Coffee Bay.Accommodation tends to be modest but with typically South African hospitality. Although the main N2 highway is in good condition, many of the local roads are potholed which makes driving slow and sometimes hazardous so you must allow plenty of time for your journey. Cattle and other domestic animals roam freely providing another driving hazard particularly after dark. Once there, however, you will be rewarded with sensational scenery, way off the beaten track and friendly people who are genuinely pleased to encounter tourists. We do, however, tend to recommend this area only for our clients who are experienced travellers in South Africa

Accommodation in Eastern Cape

For Safari lovers the Eastern Cape includes the Addo National Park This was established in 1931 to protect the last herd of wild elephants in this region. In 1952 the black rhino was reintroduced now most of the indigenous species have been re-established….with the exception of crocodiles! The park was extensively enlarged in the late 1990s and now extends from the Indian Ocean to the Zuurberg Mountains. This is an area of South Africa that is totally free from Malaria and you will be enchanted with the range of accommodation from luxury Private Safari Lodges and boutique hotels to more modest bed and breakfast accommodation.

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Avondrust, Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape

Avondrust is a Victorian style  property right in the centre of this pretty, historic town

Avondrust is a great, owner run, Guest Lodge located in the centre of Graaff Reinet.  There are  11 beautifully appointed rooms, all decorated in cottage style.  Most rooms are set in the quiet and relaxing garden with a pool and distant views of the surrounding mountains.

About Avondrust’s Location

There are a number of reasonable restaurants within walking distance. Graaff-Reinet is one of the gems of the Karoo with plenty of whitewashed cape dutch houses and a beautiful church based on Salisbury Cathedral in the UK! The dramatic Valley of Desolation is a 10 minute drive and here you will get a sense of walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs. In fact you are! This region is one of the top fossil locations globaly where numerous dinosaur remains have been found. Sleepy and slightly eccentric Nieu Bethesda lies approximately 25 kms outside the town and here you can amble around and view the incredible Owl House which is literally full of strange sculpures from the life of eccentric artist Helen Martins. The village also boasts an excellent micro brewery where you can lunch on home made goats cheese and kudu salami. This is a great location for just exploring this fascinating region which is almost entirely off the international tourist route.

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River Bend Country Lodge, Addo National Park

River Bend Country Lodge, Addo National Park

Great accommodation close to The Addo National Park

As a place to stay, now within the borders of the recently enlarged Addo National Park, and be pampered this small hotel of just 8 luxury suites offers their guests a calm and relaxed environment. The hotel’s rooms are exquisitely decorated and are in bungalows set around a central courtyard.

About the Location

After a morning’s game drive, return and have a leisurely breakfast overlooking the beautiful scenery of the Sunday’s River Valley, maybe relax beside the pool and then visit the health and beauty facilities before taking another game drive in the late afternoon. We advise an early and late drive because you will see different varieties of game. In the early morning you will see many different antelope including the massive, but normally shy and reclusive, Eland. Springbok, Kudu and Hartebeest abound and you are quite likely to spot a pair of jackal returning after a hard night’s work! Elephants will be walking to the waterholes for a morning’s refreshment and you will also see Warthog, Zebra, Meerkat, Ostrich and the extraordinary Secretary birds as the search for snakes! In the late afternoon you should see Rhino and Cape buffalo and, as they are introduced, Lion.


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Oyster Bay Beach Lodge

Oyster Bay Beach Lodge, Oyster Bay, Cape St Francis

Out of the way charm 

If you are looking for accommodation that is different and in a remote location but relatively easy to get to, then Oyster Bay could be for you. The 10 bedrooms and 4 Cape Dutch style chalets are simply furnished but comfortable. The lodge serves breakfast, a simple lunch and dinner.

About the Location

There is a reasonably sized pool but you are within easy walking of an incredible beach that has the feel of being part of Oyster Bay Lodge. Even in the height of the summer season when nearby Jeffrey’s Bay is heaving with surfers, this location has a wonderful ‘get away from it all’ feel. You should note that access to Oyster Bay is 25 kms along a good quality gravel road. Accommodation can be provided on a dinner, bed & breakfast, bed & breakfast or self-catering basis.


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