Call me an optimist, but summer is not too far away (I hope) and if you’re looking for a place to jump start the season, consider taking a trip to Port Elizabeth, there’s more there than you might think … or at least more than I thought.
I was invited to Port Elizabeth at the end of last year by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism to check out what life is like in the slow lane. Well, they didn’t exactly say slow lane, but I had heard that life in P.E. is incredibly chilled, even by Cape Town standards. To my surprise, I spent an action-packed couple of days there filled with a host of things to do and places to see, all supplemented by a rich undercurrent of history.
It’s easy to see why Port Elizabeth is called The Friendly City. The city exudes a relaxed atmosphere and out-of-your-way hospitality. It must be all those hours of sunshine (apparently they get more hours of sunshine than any other South African city). So, for the historian, the bush-lover, the sport fanatic and even the adrenaline junkie, here are 10 things not to miss.
Explore the Donkin Heritage Trail
If you want to get to know Port Elizabeth on personal level, take on the five-kilometre trail that follows in the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers. It links no less than 47 national monuments and historical sites in central Port Elizabeth and is named after the acting governor of the Cape Colony at the time, Sir Rufane Donkin. Whether you like historical tours or not, this trail includes some fascinating facts about the area that will enlighten you about the city. Points of interest along the trail are signposted with information boards, making the trail very easy to self-navigate and a pretty neat way to get you walking around town.
See the ellies at Addo Elephant Park
Escape to the bush and spend hours scouring the pristine Eastern Cape landscape for wildlife at Addo Elephant Park, home to over 550 elephant. It is the third largest national park in South Africa and has expanded to conserve a wide range of wildlife and flora from the semi-desert Karoo down to the coastline of Sunday’s River Valley Mouth.
Tel 012-428-9111, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sanparks.org
Chill out on a Sunday’s River Cruise
Cruising along the Sunday’s River on a ferry is a perfect way to take in the scenery along the marine section of the Addo Elephant National Park without lifting a finger … except of course to snap a picture or two. Head up to the upper viewing deck and take in the view out towards the city and Algoa Bay.