South Africa’s Trunk Show

The Washington Post Sunday - - Travel - By Elissa Lei­bowitz Poma

QAFol­low­ing an in­tern­ship in Alice, in South Africa’s East­ern Cape, I’d like to travel through­out the re­gion. What should I see, and how do I get around on a bud­get? Meghan Lyon

Poolesville The East­ern Cape “has ev­ery­thing that South Africa is known for — great wildlife, lovely beaches, spec­tac­u­lar scenery and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory — but re­ceives rel­a­tively few vis­i­tors,” Ju­lian Asher, a travel spe­cial­ist and man­ag­ing part­ner of the agency Time­less Africa (402-304-7513, www.time­lessafrica.com), writes in an e-mail.

Nearly all vis­its will be­gin in the re­sort city of Port El­iz­a­beth. It has wide beaches and is the East­ern Cape’s trans­porta­tion hub, link­ing ma­jor cities and towns in­clud­ing Gra­ham­stown and Jef­frey’s Bay.

An hour from the city is Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park ( www.ad­doele­phant­park.com). For $11, you can see the world’s largest con­cen­tra­tion of ele­phants — 450, ac­cord­ing to the park’s Web site, plus rhi­nos, li­ons, buf­faloes and leop­ards. Tours are avail­able, and on­site ac­com­mo­da­tions are ideal for both lux­ury trav­el­ers and bud­get-seek­ers; a ba­sic tent, for in­stance, costs $40 a night.

In ex­plor­ing the un­touched Wild Coast, head to a spot called Hole in the Wall near Cof­fee Bay, where the sea has carved a hole in an off­shore cliff. Asher also rec­om­mends the Val­ley of Des­o­la­tion within the Ka­roo Na­ture Re­serve, where ero­sion has pro­duced sheer cliffs and stone col­umns.

Jef­frey’s Bay is known for surf­ing, and the area near Saint Croix Is­land is best for div­ing, snor­kel­ing and pen­guin-view­ing. Or head to Tsit­sikamma Na­tional Park, with one of the world’s high­est bungee jumps.

For im­por­tant spots in South Africa’s tu­mul­tuous apartheid his­tory, visit the grave of ac­tivist Steve Biko in King William’s Town and Qunu, where Nelson Man­dela grew up.

Bud­get trav­el­ers get around on the hop-on/ hop-off Baz Bus ( www.bazbus.com), which is ideal for ex­plor­ing the coast, says Ed­die Mon­aghan, a des­ti­na­tion spe­cial­ist with Trav­elS­park.com (866-856-6161, www.trav­els­park. com). The buses stop at nearly 200 hos­tels be­tween Cape Town and Mozam­bique; prices start at about $137 for a seven-day pass.

You’d need a car to visit more-re­mote ar­eas; just note that an­i­mals tend to wan­der across roads in rural ar­eas at night, Asher cau­tions.

More in­for­ma­tion: 800-593-1318, www. southafrica.net. Is it easy to go from Charles de Gaulle In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Paris to Nor­mandy by train?

From the time you step out of the air­port, you could be in Nor­mandy in less than three hours.

From the air­port, ei­ther take a $75 taxi ride to the Gare Saint-Lazare train sta­tion or hop on an RER Line B train and take the 30-minute ride to the Paris Nord sta­tion. At Paris Nord, switch to a Line E train for a five-minute ride to Gare Saint-Lazare. You’ll then need to board one of the hourly re­gional trains to Caen/Bayeux. The ride is 1 hour 45 min­utes, and the one-way fare for a sec­ond-class seat is $48.

If you’re go­ing round trip and plan­ning other train travel in France, a France Railpass may be more eco­nom­i­cal. A three-day pass starts at about $227 (sec­ond class), with a dis­count if two or more peo­ple travel to­gether. It would cover all the train con­nec­tions you need to get to Nor­mandy.

More in­for­ma­tion: RailEu­rope, 888-3827245, www.raileu­rope.com; Paris Trans­port, www.ratp.info. D.J. Biddle Ar­ling­ton

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