Backpackers, surfers, wildlife watchers and those just wanting to soak in some sub-Saharan rays all have the same destination in mind: Eastern Cape. Spectacular coastlines, breath-taking hikes, killer waves and a whole lot of elephants lure those aching to beat the crowds and dig deeper into South Africa. The eastern end of the Garden route edges into the region, where hikes through the indigenous forests of Tsitsikamma reward visitors with whale sightings and rock art. Ramble along the Indian Ocean coast to Cintsa, legendary backpacker oasis, then delve inland to discover the little-visited highlands region. Explore the heritage sites of historic Graaff-Reinet before heading to the rock formations of Valley of Desolation. The mountain hikes around tiny Hogsback boast secret waterfalls and stunning vistas, while Addo Elephant National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park deliver your wildlife fix. And when you’re ready for bright beaches with big-city luxuries, Port Elizabeth is delivers all the amenities you need—including the fabulous scenery. It’s all in Eastern Cape, and it’s all minus the big crowds.