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East London

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This article is about the city in South Africa. For the East End of London in the United Kingdom, see London/East End. For the Eastern Suburbs of London in the United Kingdom, see London/East.

The town hall in East London.

East London is a City in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.


East London is situated on the east coast of South Africa, boasting the only deep water river harbour. It is the main city in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, which incorporates East London, Bhisho and King William's Town. East London is home to Mdantsane township, once considered to be the second largest township in the country. It has an airport, a deep water port, and a railway link to the national rail network. There is a wide belief that the area where it is situated was where the African Buffalo was first spotted in the country, hence the name Buffalo City by the municipality. The name "East London" is an old colonial name, but there is an ongoing debate about finding a suitable name change for the city.

East London has an estimated population of 809 000 people (South Africa 2011 census). It contributes 1.73% to the GDP of South Africa (as measured in nominal prices). There are vast tracks of land suitable for grazing and horticulture. It is one of the major tomato growing areas in the country because of its good climate throughout the year. Known for its beautiful beaches, it also boasts a number great game reserves where the Big Five can be found, including a lion park in close proximity to the city. In the sporting world, East London is also known as the Mecca of Boxing due to the number of world champion boxers it has produced in the past, and continues to do so still.

In 1938 the then curator of the town museum found an unusual fish in the catch of a local fishing vessel. The fish turned out to be a prehistoric coelacanth, long thought to be extinct.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

East London can easily be reached by car. The N2 highway connects East London to Port Elizabeth and Durban ; the N6 goes to Bloemfontein.

If you are coming from or going to Port Elizabeth you should consider taking the scenic R72 "Romantic Coast Road", which takes a bit longer, but offers spectacular views and some nice little coastal towns (such as Port Alfred).


By plane[edit]

East London Airport ((IATA: ELS)) South African Airways flies from East London to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, as well as to some smaller cities in the country. Local low-fare airlines 1Time and serve the airport as well. See also Discount airlines in Africa

By train[edit]

The central train station is in the city centre, on the corner of Station and Terminus streets.

Shosholoza Meyl operates regular inter-city trains to Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. You can also get to Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg and Durban (by changing trains in Bloemfontein), Port Elizabeth (by changing trains in Noupoort or Colesburg) and Mthatha (by changing trains in Amabele). the train fare from East London to Johannesburg is R540 in Sleeper class.

The Eastern Cape Department of Transport runs a daily train to Mthatha (previously called Umtata) via Amabele, this service is called "Kei Rail". Passengers are conveyed from East London station to Amabele (76 km north of East London) by bus. Trains leave early in the morning and the trip takes about 12 hours.

MetroRail operates commuter trains to some outlying suburbs of East London, with a reduced service over weekends.

The disused railway line to King William's Town is being upgraded. Passenger services should commence sometime in 2009.

By bus[edit]

Translux and Greyhound operate regular bus services to all bigger South African cities. on the corner of Buffalo and College streets are Minibus taxis going to port Elizabeth for R100. 6 hours. Eldo Coaches have buses to Johannesburg for R300.

Get around[edit]

Unfortunately East London lacks a public transport system, so getting around is difficult if you don't have a car. There are many Car Rental Companies available, 3 of which have branches at the airport.But the Government promised a BRT system transportation at the cost of 2billion.

Taxis are the best way of getting around East London and the suburbs of the city. They can be pre-booked and are quite cost- effective. A journey from the seafront (Sugarshack hostel) to the Hemingways Mall should only cost around 70 Rand each way(2011 prices). from the Sugarshack to the down town shoprite R7.

To get from the Airport to any address in East London, the "Little Red Bus" offers a safe, reliable and good value link. They can be pre-booked by phone or email and will wait at the airport with your name on a sign. There may be other people sharing the bus with you, but the fee is per passenger. The bus will leave when all of the booked passengers have been picked up, so there is no worry about over filling the bus. The return journey to the airport or any other journeys in and around East London can be arranged as well.


  • East Londoners are fortunate enough to have access to an amazing coast line with white sand beaches and excellent surfing spots like Nahoon Reef. "Vaalies" (as visitors from Gauteng, formerly Transvaal, are called) flock down to East London for sun, sea and sand over the Christmas/New Year and Easter periods.
  • The East London Harbour is the only natural deep-water port South Africa has. There are restaurants along the waterfront, like the Ballyhoo Bistro, where you can enjoy a very affordable meal with a view of the harbour and the moored yachts right before you. The Ballyhoo offers river cruises and caters for parties and general events.
  • The Botanical Gardens in a supreme suburb Bunkers Hill.
  • The Gately House built in Victorian style, which used to belong to the former mayor of East London in the 1870s it is now a national monument.


  • Visit the museum. It houses the first Coelacanth that was caught and a living Dodo. It is described as a living fossil and the zoological find of the last century. It provides a fantastic view of the historical happenings of the Border Area through all the battles and discoveries,like wars between Xhosa-British soldiers.
  • Go and play games at the Hemingways Casino for extra fun.
  • Waterslides are the best in E.L,try them out in Westbank near Morningside.
  • Take a seat at the Guild Theatre in Selborne to watch interesting plays.we waiting!!
  • Ann Bryant Art Gallery, +27 43 722 4044, boasts loads of different art pictures snapped around the country,every week their showcasing.
  • Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve, +27 43 734 3234, email:, website: It has the all of the Big Five game animals for a reasonable price.


If you like dancing,Gonubie farmers hall is the place. You should stick around till the last or sometimes the first (see newspapers) Saturday of each month. That is when you could head over to Gonubie farmers hall, you'll need an extra pair of dancing shoes!


Must try! The Guidos beach front should be visited while here,not forgetting the Milkshake shop and the legendary Windmill now opened is Cafe Neo which caters delicious treats.Paul's Pies in Central East London-Buffalo Street.

  • BuccanneersEsplanade. Fantastic sports bar and restaurant.


  • The Buccaneers
  • Mans Tavern
  • Champions,Vincent
  • Corner Pocket
  • Bernies,Vincent
  • Que Bar


  • 1 The Thatch37 Flamingo Crescent, Beacon Bay +27 43 748-3672. A very good guesthouse overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is not far from the town and beautifully situated. It is four star graded, but rates are quite low.Also the Hemingways Casino Hotel,Two Rivers Drive has a very comfy splendid welcoming suites to cater for all ages and needs. From R 400 per person..

Budget under R 200 a night[edit]

Backpacker Hostels[edit]

  • Sugarshack Backpackers50 Eastern Esplanade Road. +27 43-7228240. dorm beds, single/double rooms and camping. a nice clean backpackers overlooking the sea. free tea and coffee. Dorm bed from R 100 per person.
  • Buffalo Backpackers79 Moore Street. more like a workers hostel than a backpackers. Dorm bed R 95 per person..

Go next[edit]

  • Heading in the direction of Cape Town, you will travel along Settlers Way through the semi-industrial area of the West Bank. Settlers Way becomes the R72 again as you pass the airport through the traffic lights.
  • If leaving toward Durban, the Wild Coast of the Transkei lies before you. The Kei Bridge marks the entry into what used to be the Transkei.
  • Stutterheim is the first small town one encounters following the N6 toward Bloemfontein. Take the North-East Expressway from Fleet Street or Pearce Street off-ramp.
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