Long the poor cousin of the Western Cape, the eastern province of South Africa is slowly gaining an overdue reputation in the tourism industry in South Africa. For many years the Eastern Cape was considered only as the top end of the Garden Route - merely a place to end - or begin - a garden route to Cape Town holiday.
With a promotional slogan of 'Naturally South Africa's Best', the Eastern Cape is creeping out of the shadow of the country's more illustrious tourist attractions. Scenic beauty, devastatingly dramatic coastline and beaches, great weather and rich history the Eastern Cape has added Africa's greatest drawcard -the Big Five to its portfolio.
The Eastern Cape was the first region in Africa to experience major conflict between black and white when the early explorer/settlers moved north from the Cape in the 1700's and came into contact with the amaXhosas who had been migrating slowly south.
A series of frontier wars began - of which there were nine - lasting nearly 100 years between the amaXhosas and firstly Boer Settlers then later the British. It was because of this wild and dangerous frontier that the British settled 4000 people in Algoa Bay [now Port Elizabeth] in 1820.
These British settlers began to carve out the land as they moved into the interior and into Xhosa territory. One of the major casualties of the settlements - besides the loss of human life - was the wildlife.
The Eastern Cape has long been considered the hotbed of political unrest in South Africa with many of the liberation movements of South Africa being formed in the region and for this reason the province was alienated by tourists in the past.
Fort Hare University, a leading institution for black Africans, boasts names such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and even Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe amongst its learners.
With a rich history influencing South Africa and beyond, dramatic scenery and now Africa's greatest attraction, the Big 5, the Eastern Cape is taking its place among the tourism highlights of South Africa. Today lions can again be heard roaring across the pristine bush of the Eastern Cape valleys.