East London, South Africa
The gateway to some of South Africa’s wildest and most sublime coastline, East London is a laid back city that’s populated with warm and welcoming locals.
Blessed with stretches of white sandy beach that are a magnet for swimmers, surfers and sunbathers from all over the world, East London also has a rich and varied history. Set against a distinctly African backdrop, the city historically had strong links with England and Germany – a fact that can be appreciated through the city’s many museums and historical sites.
But as with most of South Africa, the real drawcard of East London is the many wildlife parks and nature reserves that are located only a short drive from the city centre. Cruise passengers can view zebras, mongooses, elephants, snakes and monkeys – plus many more species of animal – in their natural habitat during the day, before getting back on the ship in the evening.
Cruise ships dock at the Port of East London – South Africa’s only river port – which is only a short distance from the East London CBD. Taxis are generally available at the port exit when cruise ships dock in the port.
The Port of East London is primarily an industrial port and isn’t equipped with facilities for cruise passengers. However, the CBD is only a short taxi ride away and there you’ll find everything you need to make your arrival into East London as comfortable as possible.
- Restaurants and cafés
- Wi-Fi access
- Tour booking services.
How to get around
Although it’s safe enough to walk around the city during the day, it’s advisable to take taxis instead. They are cheap, convenient and safer.
It’s also possible to rent a car for the day from a number of car hire companies scattered throughout the city.
Travel times from the CBD:
- It is a 10 minute journey from the port to the East London Museum
- It is a 20 minute journey to the Apex Predators Snake Park
- It is a 15 minute journey to the Amalinda Nature Reserve.
- Currency - The local currency in East London is the South African Rand, which comes in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R 1, R 2 and R 5 coin denominations, and R 10, R 20, R 50, R 100 and R 200 note denominations.
- Time Zone - East London is on South Africa Standard Time (SAST). It is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - The climate in East London is borderline subtropical. East London experiences wet and warm summers and dry and mild winters. The average temperature during the summer months of December to February is around 25 degrees Celsius, whilst during winter – June to August – the daily average is around 20 degrees Celsius.
- East London Museum - Spend an afternoon learning all about the Eastern Cape’s rich history at the East London Museum. Housing an excellent natural history collection, including the stuffed original of the coelacanth – a fish thought to have become extinct over 80 million years ago – and the only dodo egg in existence, the museum also contains an extensive collection of beadwork from the Xhosa-speaking people in the region. The East London Museum is open from Monday to Friday, and entrance is around $2 per adult and 50c per child.
- Apex Predators Snake Park - A reptile park located 11 kilometres north of East London’s CBD, the Apex Predators Snake Park is home to over 130 species of reptiles and some of Africa’s most deadly and dangerous snakes – including African Cobras, Black Mambas and African Pythons. The park is also a reptile awareness and education centre. Entrance to the snake park is $11 per person.
- The Amalinda Nature Reserve - Covering an area of 134 hectares, and comprised of massive coastal forest, thornveld and some of the most beautiful vegetation this part of the world is known for, the Amalinda Nature Reserve is only 9 kilometres northwest of the CBD. The nature reserve is home to over 175 species of bird, and countless types of animal, including wild mongoose, zebra, blesbok, eland, otter, duiker and vervet monkey. The park is open 7 days a week.
- Nahoon Beach - The place where the locals go to relax and enjoy spectacular sunsets, get a taste for South Africa’s wonderful coastline by visiting Nahoon Beach. Swim, paddle, sunbake or simply take in the scenery around you if you’re short on time – the choice is yours. Surfers on the hunt for mammoth waves also flock to this beach, which has hosted several national surfing competitions.