East London: Eastern Cape’s jewel

The coastal town of East London might not be one of the nine 2010 Fifa World Cup™ host cities, but it is making strides to attract football fans looking for places to travel in June and July.

“Our accommodation, tourism and hospitality establishments have lined themselves up to receive those that will be staying and passing by East London during this period,” the spokesperson for what is also known as Buffalo City, Samkelo Ngwenya, told Fifa.com.

“On the outskirts of our city, our communities are ready to showcase to tourists the unique cultures and ‘ubuntu’ that South Africans are renowned for.

Go to Fifa.com
This article was first published on Fifa.com

“One of our biggest advantages to travellers is our centrality in South Africa,” Ngwenya said. “We are less than two hours away by air from all major cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban), and a three-hour road trip from Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, where eight World Cup games will be taking place.”

Football has always competed with rugby and cricket in this part of the country. East London is home to cricket great Makhaya Ntini, who was also one of the draw assistants at the World Cup Final Draw in Cape Town in December.

Probably the most famous footballer to emerge from East London is former Bafana Bafana player Brendon Augustine, who was part of the team that went to South Africa’s first Fifa World Cup in 1998.

Less than 20 kilometres from East London is the Mdantsane township, the second biggest township in South Africa. The township has produced the majority of the country’s boxing world champions, including Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Masibulele Makhepula.

Fifa.com takes a look at some key attractions in the area.

Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve
Situated 30km outside East London, Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve is one of the area’s prime tourists attractions. The game reserve includes game drives and luxury accommodation. You can also enjoy mountain biking, hiking and other activities. Since it’s only five kilometres from the beaches and a river, it also offers canoeing, surfing and most other watersports.

Chill at Chintsa
One of the most impressive places in East London is Chintsa – the vast area that lies along the shores of the Indian Ocean. It is a perfect holiday destination, with lots of places to go to. One such place is the Buccaneers backpackers, located between Chintsa East and Chintsa West and regarded as one of the best backpackers in South Africa. You will also find a number of restaurants and other holiday destinations in the area, including Dwa-dwa Park, Crawfords Beach Lodge and Mangaliso Guest House.

Enjoy the beaches
Among the favourite activities for the locals is to take a walk along one of the city’s many beaches. When in East London, you have plenty of choices. Your first stop might be the Orient and Eastern Beach, situated next to the majority of the city’s hotels on the beachfront. However, you can also explore a number of other options, including Nahoon Beach, Gonubie and Beacon Bay. Kaiser’s Beach and Cove Rock, a few kilometres from the city en route to Port Elizabeth, offer excellent swimming and surfing.

Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance
Steve Biko, the brains behind the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, was killed in police custody in 1978. The film Cry Freedom, which tells his story, helped awaken the world to the suffering and injustice of the fomer apartheid regime in South Africa. Biko was born in King William’s Town, about 25 minutes drive from East London, and his statue stands tall next to East London’s City Hall.

Source: Fifa.com