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Finding your way to and around Festival City

Published on 11 June 2019

Travelling to Makhanda

Coming to the Festival this year? Maybe you’ve never been before. Here’s a quick look at how to get there.

BY AIR: The two closest airports to Festival central aka Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown) are in Gqeberha (about 1.5 hours’ drive away) and East London (about 2 hours’ drive). There are regular flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and other South African destinations. The airlines currently flying into both Gqeberha or East London airports from 22 June to 2 July are Airlink, Cem Air, FlySafair, and a limited number of South African Airways flights. Please contact the airlines directly to make enquiries or bookings.

If you are coming from overseas, you will fly into Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban before catching a connecting flight to Gqeberha or East London.

BY ROAD: Makhanda lies just off the N2 highway between Gqeberha and East London. The small city is easily accessible by motorways from Cape Town (887km), Durban (671km), East London (160km), and Gqeberha (127km). You could also drive in from Johannesburg (950km).

If you’re doing the road trip, be sure to pop in at the famous Nanaga Farm Stall en route to pick up some legendary pies and traditional Eastern Cape pineapple juice. 

Thinking of jumping on a bus? There are coach companies that include Makhanda on their routes around South Africa: Intercape, Intercity, Eagleliner, ilulaBus, just to name a few. Please contact the coach companies directly to make enquiries or bookings.

 

From Gqeberha or East London, you can hire a car or catch a shuttle to Festival City; Van Rensburg’s Shuttles, Peter’s Shuttles, Blunden’s Shuttles, Ottours Tours & Airport transfers are some of the well-established shuttle services to contact. 

 

Getting around Makhanda

Moving around the hilly town of Makhanda can sometimes be challenging so here are a few suggestions. 

The best way to get around the town is by hiring a car at the airport. There are also a number of shuttle services available on call. Check out our hospitality brochure for more information.

Some of the venues are within walking distance of each other but if you don’t have a hire car there are other modes of transport in Makhanda, including some call-a-cab services. Some of these cab services are CABBED Taxi (083 472-7993), Cliff’s cabs (061 191 3646) and Grata Taxi Association (073 665 3558). Tuk-tuk rides and taxis will also be available during the festival. As a safety precaution, we don’t recommend walking alone at night. 

There’s no need to get lost! Locals are friendly and will help direct you where you need to go. Pick up a Festival venue map to help you find your bearings or follow the Google links to show venues from our site on your phone. 

Eating & Drinking in Makhanda

Here’s a quick guide for when hunger hits.

Once you reach Makhanda, you will find local supermarket franchises and spaza shops to purchase ready-made meals and pantry items from. During the festival, food trucks featuring street food will be available at the Village Green, and restaurants and cafes will serve hungry Festval-goers at The Monument. Makhanda also has some great local restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Some popular places include  Major Frasers, Belmont Golf Club; which has a restaurant on-site and will be open to festival-goers from Tuesday to Saturday from 8am-4pm, House of Curry and Pothole and Donkey.

Accomodation

Accommodation in the Makhanda area is in high demand over the festival dates (22 June – 2 July), so we recommend booking ahead of time. 

There’s a variety of accommodations available from B&Bs, hotels, self-catering places, homestays, and more. Some deals can be found on SafariNow & AirBnB. Rhodes University will offer accommodation, and bookings can be made via conference@ru.ac.za. Victoria Girls’ High School will also have accommodation available for the public; bookings can be made via booking@vghs.co.za. Please check our (add links) to get all the information you need.

Culture & Coast

Families coming to the Festival often enjoy staying in accommodation in Makhanda’s nearby coastal towns such as Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred or the historic town of Bathurst. Daytime weather can be pleasant and sunny too.