Silversea Luxury Cruises To East London

East London

The gateway to the Wild Coast, East London was built around the mouth of the Buffalo River, which forms South Africa's only river port. Although fairly urban, East London is still close to the rural heartland, so it retains a pleasantly small-town air. There's a great museum here, and you can take a half-day city tour, an escorted visit to a local township, or a full-day tour of a rural village. View more

Although the beaches on the outskirts of the city are wonderful, those within the central business district are crowded and not very pleasant.

An Introduction to Silversea Cruises

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cruises visiting East London

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Mombasa To Cape Town
  • Africa and Indian Ocean
  • Silversea Cruises
  • Departure
    Apr 03, 2019
  • Duration
    14 Days
  • Ship
    Silver Whisper

From
US$ 12,510 with
Early booking bonus

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Fares shown are per guest

Excursions in East London

Canoeing on the Nahoone River

Get an up-close look at nature surrounding East London during this fluid kayak adventure.


Depart the quayside and proceed to East London's city centre. Drive along Oxford Street, passing the City Hall, built in 1897, in the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign. Today, the City Hall is graced with a statue of the martyred activist, Stephen Biko.


In 1836, the British established East London as a military post, which they used as a base during the Xhosa wars. The arrival of German settlers, who had been serving as mercenaries in the British-German Legion, gave the place at the mouth of the Buffalo River an economic boost - and in 1873 East London was given town rights.


Continue past the East London Museum, which was established in 1921. It is home to a number of fine exhibits, including the type specimen of the coelacanth, a fish previously believed to have become extinct some 80 million years ago.


Your canoeing adventure will take place on the Nahoon River and takes approximately 2 hours. There will be a qualified lifeguard on each canoe trail and lifejackets will be worn by all participants. Fluid kayaks will be used which are very stable and take two people each with a maximum carrying capacity of 485 pounds (220 kilograms/ 35 stone). It is a tidal estuary and there is abundant birdlife including kingfishers, cormorants, herons (a large nesting colony) darters, wooly necked stalk, sacred ibis, Egyptian geese, blacksmith plover, egret, occasional fish eagle, osprey and goliath heron sightings. Dassies are frequently seen and some mullet can be seen jumping out of the water to escape predatory fish, and if you are really lucky you may encounter an otter or sea lion in the river. There are some beautiful riverside properties to be seen as well as some small uninhabited islands. The total distance covered will be 1-3 miles (3-6 kilometres) depending on weather conditions and the fitness of the group.


Thereafter, return to the quayside, passing the residential suburbs of East London, as well as Orient & Eastern beaches en-route.


Please note: This tour involves extensive activity and is recommended for guests in good physical condition. Life jackets are provided and must be worn at all times while on the water. Guests should wear a swimsuit under a cover-up, water shoes and ample sun protection. Kayaks are 2-person style with a maximum capacity of 485 pounds (220 kilograms / 35 stone). A waiver is required to be signed in order to participate in this tour. If you are pregnant, have had a recent operation or have a medical condition that may be deemed unsafe to paddle (if unsure please ask us), for safety reasons you may not be able to paddle. Guests are required to sign an indemnity form. This tour is weather permitting - may be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. A moderate amount of fitness is required as a distance of 1-3 miles (3-6 kilometres) will be covered, depending on the overall fitness of the entire group.

East London Township & its Children

Gain insight in to the daily lives and struggles of the township people in East London, during this half-day tour.


Depart the quayside and proceed to East London's city centre. Drive along Oxford Street, passing the City Hall, built in 1897, in the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign. Today, the City Hall is graced with a statue of the martyred activist, Stephen Biko.


Duncan Village

From here, continue to Duncan Village, a low-income residential area which is home to more than 100,000 people, many of which live in informal shacks. Infrastructural facilities are minimal and densities are extremely high, being in excess of 2,500 people per hectare in some areas.


Current plans are underway to redevelop the area, with an emphasis on primary health care, adult education, job training, contractor development and child health care clinics, which when implemented, will ensure that the community has the basic building blocks necessary for its fulfilment. There are also plans to upgrade the infrastructure and the focus on the first phase has been the introduction of electricity to 5,000 informal dwellings.

Day Care Visit

During the tour, pay a visit to a local Day Care Centre, a crèche which provides children with a care facility during the day. These fresh-faced youngsters will entertain you with their recitals of nursery rhymes, song & dance. Continue through Duncan Village, stopping briefly for a photo stop at a site overlooking the area. Please ask permission of the locals before taking their photographs.


Local Orphanage

Your next stop will be at a local orphanage, where the house mother will inspire you with her story of how she provides a loving home to orphaned children. Up until recently, the family was crammed into a tiny dwelling. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of two British men, funds were raised to renovate the house over a 4 year period, providing the house mother and her kids with a spacious comfortable home.


Mdantsane

You then make your way to Mdantsane, passing Reeston, a new residential area comprising of RDP houses which were built to provide formal housing for shack dwellers in Duncan Village. Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) is a South African socio-economic policy framework implemented by the African National Congress (ANC) government of Nelson Mandela in 1994. The chief aim was to address the immense socioeconomic problems brought about by the consequences of the struggle against its predecessors under the Apartheid regime.


Mdantsane is reputed to be the second largest township in South Africa after Soweto and is home to over 1.6 million people. The original inhabitants were people who, during the apartheid era, were forcibly removed from what was known as East Bank in East London. It is divided into eighteen zones which are named numerically in the chronological order of their establishment.


The central market, in N.U.2 (Zone 2) district is called "The Hi-way". This is where many informal traders sell their wares on the streets and it is also the location of the main taxi rank.


Enjoy an orientation drive through Mdantsane, as your local 'township' guide provides you with stories and information about the people living in the area.


From here, make your way back to the quayside, having gained a deeper understanding of township life.


Please note: This tour involves moderate amount of walking for approximately 328 yards (300 metres) with some stairs to climb and is not suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests should dress in comfortable attire and wear flat walking shoes. Some sites visited on this programme are in extreme poverty, but with the help of the RDP, it is a place of hope. Participants on this tour must be prepared for this aspect of the excursion. Your participation in this programme will generate a donation to both the day care and the orphanage visited. This is a no frills insight in to the lives of the people of South Africa like no other. A brief shopping stop is made in the township and only local currency (South African Rand) and US Dollars are accepted. Credit cards are not accepted. Please ask permission of the locals before taking their photographs.

Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve

Experience the thrill of a game drive on this half-day search for animals including rhino, giraffe and indigenous birds.


Depart the pier and drive through East London, passing Orient and Eastern Beaches en route. Travel along the national highway toward the former homeland, known as the Transkei, enjoying views of rolling hills, farmland and traditional Xhosa villages.


On arrival at Inkwenkwezi, you are welcomed by a group of Xhosa singers and dancers. Sip a welcome drink before boarding the 4x4 open-air canvas-topped vehicles.


Enjoy a two-hour game drive in search of a variety of game, including rhino, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog, zebra, springbok, impala, gemsbok and the rare Eastern Cape kudu. The bird life includes gracious crested crane, secretary bird, ground hornbill and ostrich.


Following your game drive return to the main lodge for a comfort stop before re-boarding your coach for the transfer back to East London


Please note: This tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Although little walking is required (656 feet / 200 metres) on this tour, it is suggested only for those guests able to tolerate the rough ride of an open-air vehicle traveling on unpaved surfaces. The roads in the game reserve are gravel, with some inclines; parts of the game-drive are bumpy. Therefore, this tour is not suitable for guests with back or neck problems. It could be difficult for some guests with walking difficulties or hip/knee problems to get in and out of the open vehicles. For safety reasons, children under the age of six (6) may not participate. The spotting of wildlife cannot be guaranteed. Wear light clothing, including flat, comfortable walking shoes, and protection from the sun; binoculars are recommended. Guests are not permitted to use mobile phones, smoke, speak loudly, or stand up in the vehicle on or during the game drives, as this will disturb the animals. Thank you for your understanding. Small gifts can be purchased at the local souvenir shop. Local currency or credit cards are accepted.

Khaya La Bantu - Xhosa Cultural Experience

Experience a taste of the Xhosa culture on this half-day memorable excursion to Khaya La Bantu.


Depart the quayside and drive through East London, passing Orient and Eastern Beaches en-route. Travel along the national highway toward the former homeland, known as the Transkei, enjoying views of rolling hills, farmland and traditional Xhosa villages en route to Khaya La Bantu, an open-air, Xhosa cultural museum.


On arrival at this reproduction of a traditional village, you will be welcomed by the local villagers and invited to join them at the community centre, which the villagers built by hand using mud for the walls and thatch for the roof. Wooden benches provide seating. Please ask the locals for premission to take pictures of them.


At the community centre, listen as one of the representatives introduces you to the various Xhosa customs and traditions and a performance of traditional dance and song.


You are then invited to join your guide for a walk through the village. See the traditional kraal, a round building of interwoven branches that houses cattle, pigs, goats and chickens. The friendly villagers invite you to look into their huts as they explain the techniques used to build them.


Complimentary refreshments will be served at the community centre and you will have the opportunity to taste a variety of traditional Xhosa foods, including samp(de-hulled dried corn) & beans, wild spinach with maize-rice, and pot-breads.


During your visit, a variety of handicrafts including beadwork and clothing will be on display and are available for purchase.


Following your visit, re-board your coach for the return drive to the harbour and your awaiting ship.


Please note: This tour requires a moderate amount of walking outdoors for approximately 985 feet (300 metres) and it is not suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair or for those with limited mobility. The terrain at Khaya La Bantu is mainly grass and uneven ground and it can get slightly muddy after heavy rain. Guests are advised to wear flat, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection and a warm jacket. Khaya La Bantu in not an authentic village; it is an open-air museum with cultural entertainment. Guests should have small denominations of local currency (South African Rand) if they wish to make any purchases. The price of this tour is adversely affected by the cost of conducting business in this high-cost infrastructure area. Guides and adequate transportation need to be sourced from a distance.

Natural History Adventure

Depart the pier and proceed to East London's city centre. Drive along Oxford Street, passing the City Hall, built in 1897, in the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign. Today, the City Hall is graced with a statue of the martyred activist, Stephen Biko.


In 1836, the British established East London as a military post, which they used as a base during the Xhosa wars. The arrival of German settlers, who had been serving as mercenaries in the British-German Legion, gave the place at the mouth of the Buffalo River an economic boost - and in 1873 East London was given town rights.


Continue to the East London Museum, which was established in 1921. It is home to a number of fine exhibits, including the type specimen of the coelacanth, a fish previously believed to have become extinct some 80 million years ago.


Other notable exhibits include a reconstruction of the extinct dodo of Mauritius along with the only known dodo egg in the world, as well as an extensive collection of beadwork relating to the Xhosa-speaking people, and the Nahoon Footprints.


In 1964, some construction workers at Bats Cave on the Nahoon Bluff corner noticed some strange shapes in the bedrock and on further investigation recognized them to be the fossilized footprints of a child, belonging to the archaic hominid period. 200,000 years ago, the conditions would have been perfect for the child to have been able to create these tracks and they then lay undisturbed for eons, fossilizing over time. Large slabs of sandstone that contained the tracks have been removed and can now be seen at the Museum.


Following this visit, proceed via the national highway through rural countryside en-route to the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve.


Enjoy refreshments at the Footprints Café, which is situated in a building which also houses the Mercedes-Benz Coastal Education & Visitor Centre. The centre provides an informative eco-tourism facility to educate visitors to the area, with boards, photographs and touchscreens mounted on the walls, explaining the unique aspects of East London's coastal environment, the archaeological wealth of Nahoon including the Nahoon Footprints, the history of surfing at the Nahoon Reef, and the importance of environmental stewardship.


Take a short stroll along the wooden boardwalk that skirts the edge of the coastal dunes, to the site where the Fossil Footprints were found. Thereafter, return to the pier, passing the residential suburbs of East London en-route.


Please note: This tour requires a moderate amount of walking for approximately 1640 feet (500 metres) and it is suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair or for those with limited mobility however guests must be able to embark/disembark the coach via the bus steps. We recommend guests wear flat, comfortable walking shoes, sun hat & glasses, sunblock and windbreaker. Souvenir shops accept local currency and credit cards only. The order of sites seen may vary.