|East London’s twelve beaches are some of the best in the world. The wave conditions make it ideal for surfing, which is why the city gets to host several the top surfing competitions every year.
The East London Museum in upper Oxford Road is an astonishing exhibit of the past. Even if museums are not your cup of tea, this particular one is a must see. The palaeontology section of the museum contains the only dodo egg in the world and a coelacanth. The latter is significant because this 350 million year old sea creature was considered to be long extinct until a live coelacanth was rediscovered off the East London coastline during the 20th century. Since then, several live specimens have been spotted and photographed by ultra-adventurous deep water divers. You will also discover fossils (Nahoon footprints) and artefacts that indicate a human presence in the area existed more than 200,000 years ago.
The Khayalabantu Cultural Village, which is located just outside East London, is an essential experience if you wish to know more about the culture of the Xhosa people. Xhosa dancing and traditional Xhosa food is part of the package, and you will be given an opportunity to purchase some of beautifully handcrafted items from their curio shop.
For the kids, the Thornvalley Python Park is a must. The park is home not only to pythons, but crocodiles and ostriches too. Pony rides, quad bike riding and bass fishing are offered, meaning that the little ones are likely to remain busy for quite a while. You can also visit the Queens Park Zoo and Garden, and the aquarium and Whale Watch Deck on the Esplanade. Seal shows are held twice daily and guaranteed to enthral young and old.
Fort Glamorgan is a special destination in East London. It was established in 1848, around the same time as the harbour, and was intended to provide "quarters for troops and to include a large commissariat store assets". The brick vaulted building that was once the powder house is only accessible through the main prison gates, so you will need to request permission to enter before visiting. A unique experience, so it is definitely worth the effort.
Still on the topic of prisons… you may want to visit the Lock Street Gaol Shopping Complex in Fleet Street. It was built during the 1800s and was the first women’s prison in the country. Famous people, such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (ex-wife of Nelson Mandela), spent some time behind bars there, as did Daisy de Melker, a black widow type murderess, who poisoned her two husbands and her only son. She was the second woman ever to be executed in South Africa. The original gallows can still be seen there today. Now the Lock Street Gaol is home to shops and offices, not criminals, and well worth the visit.