Lying on the Zwartkops River just 38 kilometres north west of Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage is also known as the Garden Town for its gorgeous position in the foothills of the Winterhoek Mountains, its many rambling parks and a climate that allows gardens to flourish with little input. Add to this already pretty picture the fact that the town's official flower, the Strelitzia, blooms just about everywhere, and you begin to see why Uitenhage might be a good place to stop.
It is also just 45 kilometres away from the Addo Elephant Park, so makes a gentle stopover en route from Port Elizabeth, with numerous view stops along the way. The town itself was founded in 1804 so has a rich history demonstrated in a number of old buildings maintained in excellent condition, like the Town Hall, the Drostdy and the Court House. Victorian and Settler architecture add to the town's historical attraction.
Uitenhage isn't a small town. Almost 300 000 people live here and a Volkswagen factory, which has just produced its 400 000 th Polo, is one of the main forms of employment for many who live here.
The Uitenhage Street Carnival, around for two decades and celebrated in late November, is well worthwhile. Uitenhage all but shuts down for the event, which turns on festive street lights and produces a street stage. There's a street parade, live entertainment on the big street stage, a street market with over 120 stalls, a play land for children and a Miss Carnival Queen pageant (who goes on to serve as a community environmental ambassador).