Port Elizabeth forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Despatch and Colchester are the towns that comprise the metropole named after the first President of a democratic and free South Africa, Nelson Rolihlala Mandela (1918-2013).
This is a by no means exhaustive list of things to do and places to see:
Red Location is one of the oldest settled Black Townships of Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. It derives its name from a series of corrugated iron barrack buildings, which are rusted a deep red colour. Building materials for these sheds stem from the First South African War (1899-1902) structures – the Boer concentration camp at Uitenhage as well as the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at De Aar. It became a site of struggle during the years of Apartheid. Many prominent political and cultural leaders were either born or lived in Red Location and a number of significant “struggle” (umZabalazo) events occurred here.
The South End Museum, Port Elizabeth, reflects a bygone era of the suburb of South End prior to and during the implementation of the Group Areas Act in 1950, which led to the destruction of the ‘old’ South End. South End, as a suburb, was once a cosmopolitan community. Men, women, children and families lived harmonious lives in the epicentre of cultural diversity. Blacks, whites, coloureds,the religious element was strong and respected. These churches included Christian churches, Mosques and a Hindu Temple. This vibrant, harmonious spirit was all but crushed when, in 1948, the National Party was elected to power and the Apartheid ideals were implemented. This way of ruling held the principle of “equal but separate development”, and one of the laws that came into being was that of the Group Areas Act. This required that all non-whites be ousted from “white” suburbs. This removal was carried out by force, if necessary. Coloureds, blacks and Indians of all ages were assigned to areas far away from the city centre of Port Elizabeth and certainly far away from South End. These forced removals bore many negative consequences for the ex-residents of South End. People were now forced to commute long distances to get to work, school and even church and hospitals. In addition, homes that had once housed the families and extended families of South End were destroyed without discrimination.
The South End museum has been designed to provide an accurate picture of the life once enjoyed in this bustling and diverse neighbourhood. More than this, it exposes some of the injustices experienced by non-whites, and it honours the key figures who lived (and sometimes died) for their eternal determination for justice and racial equality.
The St. Croix Motor Museum, Mowbray Street, Newton Park displays a private collection of vintage and classic vehicles dating back to 1901. Visits can be arranged by contacting the curator, Mr Eben de Vos for visits at 11h00 and 15h00. Bookings can be made by faxing a request to visit the Museum to +27 (0) 41 392 5364.
No 7 Castle Hill was completed in 1825 and is one of the oldest surviving Settler cottages in Port Elizabeth. Following renovations, No. 7 Castle Hill, was opened as a Museum in 1965. The interior presents a picture of domestic life as enjoyed by an English middle class family in mid-19th Century Port Elizabeth. This picturesque family dwelling located in Castle Hill Road, Central has Yellowwood floors and beams, and a restored slate roof. The kitchen, the doll’s house and the lace displays are particularly impressive. No 7 Castle Hill transports children back in time, where their imagination can run wild as they explore the old furniture, kitchen equipment, collect water from the well, old toys and dolls, the fairy garden and complete a treasure hunt and make friends with the No 7 family in the display room!
Opening times are Monday to Thursday 10am to 4.30pm . Friday 10am to 4pm. Closed from 1pm to 2pm.
Prince Alfred’s Guard Museum: The Prince Alfred’s Guard (PAG), is a City Regiment which was founded in 1856 as the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Rifle Corps. Its name changed by Royal assent after it provided a Royal Guard for Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, on his visit to the City in 1860. The Victorian Drill Hall, in which the museum is housed, is one of the finest surviving examples of its type. It was opened in 1880 and has been the regiment’s headquarters ever since. The building, a National Monument, has been extensively restored and partly converted to museum use. Visiting hours: By appointment.
The Port Elizabeth Museum, which blends cultural with natural history, is the third oldest in South Africa and is the parent unit of Bayworld. The museum consists of a Dinosaur, Marine, Bird, Maritime History, Costume and Local History Halls, as well as a Curiosity Corner, Xhosa Beadwork Gallery andthe First People of the Bay exhibit. Other diverse temporary exhibits in the fields of natural science, archaeology and geology are also regularly on display in the Museum. Particularly noteworthy exhibits are the 15m skeleton of the last Southern right whale harpooned in Nelson Mandela Bay; a life-sized reconstruction of the giant local prehistoric dinosaur known as Algoasaurus; a replica of the Dias Cross; and a 5m bronze cannon dated 1640, recovered from a Portuguese galleon wrecked near Port Elizabeth.
The Port Elizabeth Branch of the South African Air Force Museum, Forest Hill Drive, Southdene, is located on the southern side of the Port Elizabeth Airport. The Museum boasts a total of nine aircraft, including helicopters, a supersonic jet fighter, two of the world famous Harvard trainers amongst others, and the oldest surviving jet fighter in South Africa. There are ongoing restoration projects by a team of dedicated enthusiasts, who are members of the Friends of the S.A.A.F.Museum. There is also a display of aircraft memorabilia, together with a fine collection of models and pictures in the main exhibition hall. Interested aviation enthusiasts will be pleased to actually view the restoration work being carried out in a restored World War 2 hanger. For further details, contact FSgt Eleanor Sharp on Tel: (041) 505 1295 / Fax: (041) 505 1346. Opening times are weekdays from 08h00 to 15h00 and Saturdays 9h00 to 13h00 and on Sundays from 10h00 to 16h00. Admission is by freewill donation.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is situated in the North End of Port Elizabeth on the shores of the North End Lake. This state of the art multipurpose stadium was constructed to host 8 games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup which was hosted by South Africa with Port Elizabeth being one of the host cities. With both sea and lake views visible from the inside the stadium, spectators are treated not only to sporting fixtures but also breathtaking views of the city and surrounds. The stadium was constructed by Grinaker-LTA in a 50:50 joint venture with Dutch company Interbeton, since March 15, 2007, when the tender was awarded. The architectural companies were: Architectural Design Associates (Port Elizabeth)(PTY)Ltd. and Dominic Bonnesse Architects cc. The Stadium Capacity is 48 459. The building is approximately 40m high from field level to top of roof and consists of six levels in West Stand and 5 levels in the North, South and East Stands. The stadium offers conferencing facilities in over 50 venues for Gala dinners, conferences, weddings and cocktail functions.
The Boardwalk is the most exciting leisure attraction in the Eastern Cape, offering 24-hour entertainment and superior conference space.
The new 5 star Boardwalk Hotel, Convention Centre and Spa charmingly captures the grace and detail of Victorian architecture whilst incorporating every modern convenience. The result is a refreshing blend of refinement and urban vogue set against the azure backdrop of the Indian Ocean.
Boasting 140 sea-facing guestrooms with an average room size of 39m², the hotel’s unique variety of accommodation options satisfy every requirement and offer modern conveniences such as plasma screen TVs, luxurious beds, mini bars and bijou balconies.
The Boardwalk Spa by Africology, includes an indoor heated pool and fitness centre. The Spa offers a range of African inspired massage treatments, facials, skin adoration wraps and scrubs plus treatments geared towards treating the endocrine system. A unique treatment to this Port Elizabeth Spa is the Hydrotherapy cold water walkway.
With a vibe that is both energetic and playful, The Boardwalk evokes the feel of an old fashioned lakeside boardwalk complete with a musical fountain. The multi-media lake spectacular musical fountain positioned in the centre of the existing lake is a must see attraction for everyone. With the ability to reach a height of 60metres at its peak, the fountain creates the “wow “ factor for every visit. Choreographed to music, lighting and a water curtain has set this fountain apart in being the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There are eight alfresco restaurants ranging from Greek to Indian and Kipling’s Brasserie, the hotel restaurant, specialises in Asian cuisine.
The casino offers the latest slots games to casino classics. You’ll find no shortage of action on The Boardwalk Casino floor.
The 3000m² Boardwalk Convention Centre provides just the right space for meetings of many sizes and is able to handle conferences for 1680 delegates. The centre features a multi-divisible 2000m² Ballroom, 4 sub-divisible multi-purpose meeting rooms and a 760m² pre-assembly area.
The Hotel and Spa and Convention Centre is situated in the thriving Boardwalk precinct, the hub of Port Elizabeth, and is within easy walking distance of Hobie Beach, 16 eateries ranging from intimate sidewalk cafés to Mediterranean restaurants. The Boardwalk alone has a multitude of retail outlets offering, amongst others, boutique style fashion, jewellery and African art and curios.
With its unique combination of adult and children entertainment, and indoor and outdoor fun, The Boardwalk offers a world of entertainment.
Fort Frederick, Port Elizabeth, which is located along Belmont Terrace, Central, is a stone fort built in 1799 by the British Forces to defend the mouth of the Baakens River. Built in 1799 on a natural citadel, Fort Frederick stands guard over a magnificent view of Algoa Bay. Named after Frederick, Duke of York and Commander of the British Army, it was built by troops sent to Algoa Bay to prevent a possible landing of French troops to assist the Graaff-Reinet rebels during the Napoleonic wars, the inception of British occupation of the colony. The ‘landing with fresh water’, as Algoa bay was referred to, is at the mouth of the Baakens River, which stretches from just above the harbour to the western outskirts of Port Elizabeth. By the arrival of the 1820 settlers, no retributive shot had been fired from Fort Frederick, as the case is to this day.
The over-200-year-old fort contains a powder magazine and a blockhouse, which has lost its timber upper storey; and was originally defended by two 8-pounder guns and one 5.5 inch Howitzer and now contains a selection of muzzle-loaders dating from the later part of the eighteenth century. On the north side of the fort lies the grave of Captain Francis Evatt, Commandant of Fort Frederick between 1817 and 1847. Captain Evatt is known to have overseen the arrival of the Settlers in 1820. Fort Frederick is also one of the initial buildings of Port Elizabeth, which sprang up around the fort.
Opening times are daily, from sunrise to sunset and the admission is free.
The Campanile was erected to commemorate the landing of the 1820 Settlers and is situated at the entrance to the railway station and docks in Strand Street. The Campanile Memorial has a climb of 204 steps that takes one to the Observation Room, offering a magnificent view of the harbor and surroundings, more than 52m above the city. The Campanile contains the largest carillon of bells in the country in addition to its chiming clock.
Opening times are Tuesdays to Saturdays from 09h00 till 12h30 and 13h30 till 17h00. On Sundays, opening times are from 14h00 till 17h00. (Closed on Mondays). Admission is by freewill donation.
The Donkin Reserve, located off Belmont Terrace, Central, and overlooking the city, was proclaimed an open space in perpetuity by Sir Rufane Donkin. The Donkin Reserve, Pyramid and Lighthouse includes a Stone Pyramid Monument with a touching inscription erected by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth, after whom the city was named, as well as palm-lined walkways and benches. The Lighthouse, which was built in 1861, also houses Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, the official Tourist Information Centre. The Lighthouse is manned by a private concern and is opened to the public on request between 08h30 & 16h00 weekdays.
The AutoPavilion – Volkswagen Group South Africa’s ultra-modern Expo and Heritage Centre -have been receiving around 3 000 visitors a month since opening in March 2004, making it a most popular tourist attraction. It is situated at the factory’s main entrance at 103 Algoa Road, Uitenhage, some 35 km from Port Elizabeth (P.E.) just off the Graaff-Reinet highway.
Opening times are: Weekdays 08h30 to 16h00. First Saturday of each month from 10h00 to 13h00 only. Closed all other week-ends and public holidays. Entrance: R10.00 for adults and R5.00 for children under 16 and pensioners. Free guided factory tours lasting two hours starts every weekday morning at 09h00 but must be booked well in advance and can only accommodate 40 people. If the group is bigger or demand is big enough, a second tour will be arranged at 12h00 if possible. No cameras are allowed in the factory and closed shoes must be worn. No children under 12 are allowed in the factory. This tour also ends in the AutoPavilion museum at no charge where children (and cameras) are welcome.
Visitors usually spend between 30 and 45 minutes in the AutoPavilion. There are also vending machines and the building is wheel chair compliant.
Contact the AutoPavilion for bookings or further information on 041 994 5941/3.
Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve, is a 500 hectare “floral wonderland” reserve and is located 35km from Port Elizabeth, bisected by the N2 Port Elizabeth to Cape Town highway. The terrain comprises southern wooded slopes, a large plateau and northern river banks each with its own vegetation type. The prime purpose of the Reserve is to protect and propagate the unique indigenous flora. Visitors are encouraged to explore and enjoy the extraordinary diversity and splendour of the natural Fynbos, succulents and other indigenous flora. Mountain bikers are welcome to explore the plateau section of the reserve. There are a number of flat gravel roads, which are ideal for exploration on a mountain bike. The area provides ideal riding terrain for the novice mountain biker or the family on a cycling outing, during which time indigenous flora can be appreciated. The Reserve is open daily from 08h00 till 17h00 and offers two walking trails and picnic sites. Tel: (041) 956 0155, Environmental Conservation Division
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum is situated at the entrance to St George’s Park in Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, formerly the King George VI Art Gallery, was opened on 22 June 1956 and renamed in December 2002. The collections are housed in two buildings framing the entrance to St George’s Park.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum’s collections consist of South African art (particularly that of the Eastern Cape), British art, international printmaking and Oriental art (including Indian miniatures and Chinese textiles).
These are supplemented by an active programme of temporary exhibitions.
Public opening hours: Weekdays 9:00 to 18:00 (closed Tuesday mornings); Saturdays, Sundays 13:00 to 17:00; Public holidays 14:00 to 17:00; First Sunday of the month 9:00 to 14:00.
This Art Gallery is unique in South Africa and possibly the world, as a corporate collection being devoted to the science of aviation. It houses the complete collection of 150 paintings and sketches as published in his book of 1989 “A Portrait of Military Aviation in South Africa”. At present there are 4 Prints by the artist available which are sold individually or as a set and produced on the best quality acid free art paper.
The Port Elizabeth People’s Observatory Society houses a very impressive telescope. The premises are located on the corner of Westview Drive and Macfarlane Street, Newton Park. Meetings are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 20h00, and in December and January, every Wednesday.
The society started with a 4? refracting telescope and an epidiascope – on loan from the Port Elizabeth Museum. With this and lots of astronomical enthusiasm, the society as we have it today was started. The need for a proper telescope led to the formation of a Trustee Committee in September 1947. Their task was to raise funds and on the 16th of April 1948, they were in a position to order the 8? refractor telescope that we still use. The name was chosen as a tribute to the people of the city who contributed to the dream that made the purchase of the Telescope possible when it became available from the Royal Astronomical Society. These early pioneers are still remembered today by members giving their time to man the Telescope on public viewing nights – every first and third Wednesday of the month and in December every Wednesday. By mid-1948 the Telescope duly arrived. At first it was housed in a cumbersome shed that rolled away on old tramline tracks. It was later moved to the present site, granted to the Society by the Port Elizabeth Municipality – who also loaned the sum of 2000 pounds towards the building of the observatory. On 29 June 1953, an invitation appeared in a local newspaper – The Herald – inviting the people of Port Elizabeth “To see the planets through the 8 inch Telescope which was mounted in Westview Drive, Mill Park” -The only large professional telescope set up solely for the benefit of the public, in South Africa. In addition to the viewing sessions, the Observatory is also used to present lectures, talks and host discussion groups in a small lecture room equipped with the necessary presentation tools.
The telescope is an 8-inch Cooke Refractor and was originally owned by a certain William Coleman, who used it for measuring double stars. When he died in 1911, it was bequeathed to the Royal Astronomical Society who wanted it to be put to good use. They loaned it to a Rev. T.E.R. Phillips. Over the next 30 years until his death in 1943, he used it for observations of Mars and Jupiter and also continued the micrometrical measurements of double stars.
It is still a very fine instrument that gives a lot of pleasure to all that use it.
The Kragga Kamma Game Park offers accommodation, game drives, self-drive game viewing and tame cheetah interactions. This owner-operated and animal friendly park means that you always get close up views and great photo opportunities. Lush coastal forests and grasslands are home to vast herds of African game including the white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, nyala, bontebok, lechwe and many more species. All the animals roam freely and unrestricted in natural surroundings. This owner-operated and animal friendly park, where no hunting or other disturbance of the game is permitted, means that you always get close up views and great photo opportunities. The resident bird of prey is the jackal buzzard and other species such as fish eagles, yellow billed kites and sparrow hawks also frequent the area. Knysna loeries are plentiful and more than 200 species of wild birds and waterfowl have been documented. There are good birding opportunities on the treetop boardwalk and the many waterholes.
Fully equipped self catering Thatched Lodges: each offer two double bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen and undercover barbecue. The Chalets have large downstairs en-suite bedrooms with additional upstairs sleeping areas and barbecues. The Log Cabins each have one en-suite bedroom with a sleeper couch for children, a fully equipped kitchen and a private barbecue area. The Luxury Safari Tents are for the real bush camp experience. The tents are each fully furnished with two single beds, a fully equipped kitchen for self-catering, an en-suite bathroom and a private barbecue area.
Seaview Game & Lion Park, situated a mere 18km from Port Elizabeth’s CBD and set in 100 hectares of superb bush and grassland, offers a unique aspect of close-up game viewing. At Seaview Game & Lion Park the wildlife consists of over 40 species of game and animals, including: giraffe; blesbuck; wildebeest; zebra; caracal; african wildcat and vervet monkey. Lion, including the rare white lion, and siberian tiger can be viewed in separate enclosures. Bird-watching in the area is plentiful, with over 37 species having been identified. In addition to the curio shop and restaurant, braai and picnic facilities are available against a magnificent backdrop of 180º ocean views. Private functions can be catered for in a boma. The Seaview Game Park is open daily between 09h00 and 17h00. (Lion are fed on Sundays at noon).
Addo Elephant National Park, situated in a malaria free area just one hour’s drive from the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, is a magnificently diverse national park and offers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultoffers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultural experiences. You will be amazed at the variety of natural landscapes and wildlife species that can be experienced in one easily accessible destination. Whether you are looking for luxury, comfortable family accomodation, or rustic settings, you are sure to find what your heart desires in the main rest camp, in the rugged Zuurberg section of the park, or in one of the concession sites.
Welcome to Shamwari Game Reserve, the ultimate luxury big five African safari adventure and conservation effort coupled with responsible tourism. Shamwari Private Game Reserve is home to Africa’s Big 5 (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), is malaria free and is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This reserve has received numerous international awards, including the World’s Leading Conservation Company and Game Reserve for many consecutive years. Shamwari is about conserving a vanishing way of life and is the realisation of one man’s dream, and the success of many people’s passion. Steeped in pioneer history, and dating back to the time when a multitude of game roamed wild and free, the 25 000 hectare reserve boasts five eco-systems, thus enabling the support of many forms of plant, animal and bird life. Shamwari is situated in verdant bush along the Bushmans River, halfway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, a pleasant drive from Cape Town and forms a natural extension to the famous Garden Route.
Baviaanskloof is one of the eight protected areas within the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, which is a World Heritage Site.
The Baviaanskloof – “Valley of the Baboons” – lies roughly 120km west of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The mega-reserve comprises of approximately 200 square kilometers of unspoiled, rugged, mountainous terrain. Beginning in the east at Komdomo Campsite, the road leads through the rugged beauty of the Groot River Port, winding its way through pristine conservation areas, towards Willowmore in the west. This covers a distance of approximately 250km.
The Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve is one of the largest wilderness conservation areas in the country where about 500,000ha of land, owned by the government and the private sector, is collaboratively managed by Eastern Cape Parks. It represents seven out of eight of South Africa’s biomes, which are distinct ecological communities of plants and animals that live together in a particular climate.
For the more adventurous, the vast mountain kingdom offers an unique wilderness experience. It offers visitors various nature based opportunities which include mountain hiking, rock and mountain climbing, camping, bird watching and scenic drives. To the traveler it offers a memorable traveling experience through stunningly beautiful landscapes of a type to be found only in the Eastern Cape.
As part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and due to the area’s diverse habitat, the spectacular landscapes are home to more than a 1,000 different plant species. These include species of the well known and magnificent Erica and Protea families. The flora of the area encompasses a wide range of genetic diversity, which includes the genetically distinct, ancient cycads. Two surviving species of these ancient plants are found in the Baviaanskloof area.
The reserve provides a habitat for more than 50 mammal species, over 300 bird species, and other species of animals, such as reptiles and amphibians.
A R4,5 million World Heritage Site Interpretive Centre was launched in Baviaanskloof in December 2007.
The centre forms part of the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, and was funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. During the construction, training opportunities were provided to local community members and about 300 temporary jobs were created as a means to alleviate poverty.
The centre, which overlooks the Cambria Valley, was built to showcase the natural and cultural history and diversity of the Baviaanskloof.
The Donkin Heritage Trail links 51 places of historical interest in the old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth. The 1820 Settler history and architectural delights of the historical central city can be explored at leisure on a self-guided walking tour. Amble along the 5km Donkin Heritage Trail which links 51 places of historical interest in the old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth. The Donkin Heritage Trail booklet is sold at Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism’s Donkin Reserve Information Office.
Route 67 celebrates the 67 years of public life of Nelson Mandela and will appropriately include a total of 67 giant steps and 67 public art pieces by 67 local Eastern Cape artists. The ‘Route 67? meanders through the CBD taking visitors past some of the Bay’s oldest monuments, art deco architecture and a series of open-air artworks. Start at The Campanile and end at The Donkin Reserve.
The Sacramento is a popular 8 km round trip coastal walk through the Schoenmakerskop-Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve and is accessed by travelling along Sardinia Bay Road. The area offers attractive seascapes, landscapes and, depending on the season, some remarkable displays of dune vegetation and wild flowers. At Schoenmakerskop, a bronze cannon points towards the wreck site of the Portuguese galleon, Sacramento, which foundered on 30 June 1647. The route continues past the Sacramento monument towards the far end of the sandy bay, aptly named Cannon Bay where the ruins of a mill, which used to crush seashells are located, and then on to the Sacramento Tea Room.
The 366 hectare Cape Recife Nature Reserve was proclaimed in 1973, and is situated next to the Pine Lodge Holiday Resort off Marine Drive, Summerstrand. The 9 km circular Roseate Tern Hiking Trail starts at the entrance gate of the Nature Reserve and offers beautiful unspoilt beaches, natural dune vegetation, rocky outcrops, a lighthouse built in 1851, an old military observation post, as well as a bird hide. No permit is required for hikers leaving their vehicles outside the gate. The Reserve is also regarded as one of the prime bird watching venues around Port Elizabeth.
The Cormorant Trail covers a distance of 8 km from Schoenmakerskop to Noordhoek. The duration of the walk will depend on your own pace and fitness. The terrain is reasonably flat and suitable for moderately fit people. It is also possible to walk parts of the trail only as there are a number of entry points.
The Baakens River Mountain Bike Trail:
The Baakens River has a total length of 23 km and is situated on approximately 500 hectares of public open space which falls under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department. The valley is unique in its situation in a major urban environment and contains many examples of indigenous vegetation. The marked mountain bike trail leaves from the car-park at Dodd’s Farm which is located off 9th Avenue, Walmer and from the PEM nursery at the end of Alan Drive, Walmer Downs and ends at Abelia Crescent in Sunridge Park. The total length of the trail is 12 km and most of the trail is suitable for beginners. The Bike Trail is well marked by concrete bollards with bicycle signs painted on them.
The Coastal Fynbos Trail is a circular trail of about 7 km starts at Sappershoek which is located at the east end of the seaside village of Schoenmakerskop. An inland route is followed through the coastal fynbos to a cellphone tower, returning to Sappershoek along the top of the ridge overlooking the sea.
The only Green Flag canoe trail in the country, the Nukakamma Canoe Trail is a 29 km overnight round trip on the flat water of the Sundays River. The trail is a joy for any lover of nature to behold, with over 210 bird species and abundant wildlife. Stay overnight in the romantic Hudson, a two roomed log cabin and sleep under the stars on the sundeck overlooking the river. You can find Nukakamma just 30 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth on the northbound N2 highway to Johannesburg. It begins and ends in the village of Cannonville.
The walk of 9 km (3-4 hours) starts at the MOTHERWELL STORMWATER CANAL in the ZWARTKOPS NATURE RESERVE on the northern bank of the ZWARTKOPS RIVER upstream of the brickfields. Access is via a dirt track along the river from the COROBRIK FACTORY adjacent to the BRAMLIN-MARKMAN HIGHWAY. Cars may be parked, at your own risk, at the Corobrik factory or in the Nature Reserve. The walk is suitable for moderately fit persons. It is advisable to walk in a group, wear strong shoes and carry drinking water.
The Zwartkops Nature Reserve starts at the stormwater canal and extends along the escarpment for about 6km. The reserve is designed to protect the valley bushveld, which is generally in prime condition and serves to bind the clay slopes (to see what happens when the bush is removed, compare with the slopes of Amsterdamhoek). The reserve also protects major BIRD BREEDING COLONIES and the calcareous sandstone is rich in FOSSILS (please note that it is illegal to collect the fossils).
The escarpment section of the trail is marked with YELLOW ARROWS and goes up the side of the stormwater canal, turning left near the top. Along this path there is plenty of opportunity to note how the vegetation copes with the low rainfall (Swartkops receives much less rain than the city).
Succulents dominate the vegetation, the tall ALOES flowering in June/July. Look out for the pink flowers of the IVY-LEAVED GERANIUM and the red flower of the BOER BEAN. CAPE GRYSBOK and the rare BLUE DUIKER are the main large mammals. After providing glorious views of the whole estuary, the path descends to the saltpan via a kloof and then follows the track along the bottom of the escarpment. The trail around the saltpan is marked with RED ARROWS.
The saltpan is a primary evaporation pan, the first in a series of commercially operated pans in the valley. Near the pumphouse the bush is characterised by many TREE EUPHORBIAS. The trail turns left here and follows the river towards REDHOUSE.
The Zwartkops River is a major recreational area. The intertidal areas above Redhouse are dominated by PINKPRAWNS, whereas further downstream MUDPRAWNS are the main invertebrates and provide food for the Zwartkops River’s most famous fish – the SPOTTED GRUNTER.
As the trail joins the saltpan again, there should be large numbers of small WADERS, most of which are summer migrants that breed in Arctic Russia.
FLAMINGOS are usually present close by, up to 1 000 have been recorded. The saltpan is a very important breeding area for seabirds, including GULLS, CORMORANTS and TERNS. Disturbance of their nests is strictly forbidden. Much of the vegetation around the saltpan is SALTMARSH, with purple VYGIES adding colour.
NOTE: USE OF THIS AREA IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK
Nelson Mandela Bay represents a large percentage of South Africa’s biological diversity in that it is a meeting point for 5 of the 7 South African Biomes, namely the Thicket, Grassland, Nama-Karoo, Fynbos and Forest Biomes. The area also boast a significant amount of endemic species i.e. species that are only found here and nowhere else in the world. Such a concentration of biomes, particularly within a city, is unparalleled in the world and results in an extraordinary diversity of landscapes, plants and animals.
A biome is a broad classification of vegetation according to the kinds of plants that occur in the area, which is influenced by factors such as soil and climate. A biome is not usually found only in one part of the country. Depending on the climate and features of the landscape, a particular biome can be distributed in patches, like forest in the kloofs of mountains all over the country.
A number of municipal nature reserves have been included in, and can be visited along the “Outward Bound Route” of the city. A mosaic of these 5 Biomes could be experienced in these reserves. The Outward Bound Route is an Eco-Outdoor Adventure and Sports Route incorporating Walking Trails and Wildlife experiences. The aim of this route is to spread tourism to similar attractions along the route, leading to increased foot traffic and related benefits to these sites.
The thicket biome is found largely in the Eastern Cape, but is highly fragmented and found mostly in the river valleys. It is characterized by a sparse to dense, spiny, evergreen shrub vegetation, with a tree component of varying proportions.
The thicket biome represents an area of transition, and contains elements of seven biomes. Most of the plant endemics of the Albany centre of endemism are components of the thicket biome. The thicket is thought to contain the most species-rich formations of woody plants in South Africa.
Thicket shows exceptionally high carbon dioxide storage ability, and is considered an important area to buffer the effects of climate change.
The thicket biome can be viewed at the Settlers Park Nature Reserve and Swartkops Aloe Reserve.
The grasslands biome is characterized by summer rainfall, mostly in the form of thunderstorms, and frosts in winter. It is dominated by different species of grasses, with very few bushes or trees.
For most of the year only grasses can be seen, but in spring a variety of flowers sprout from underground bulbs.
Fire plays an important role in the ecology of this system. Grasslands are often characterized by the presence of many wetlands, upon which economic development is dependent.
The grasslands biome can be viewed at the Van Der Kemps Kloof Nature Reserve.
The forest biome is dominated by tall trees that form a roof above the forest floor, making it dark on the ground below. It is found in areas of high rainfall and in kloofs in the mountains, where it is wetter than surrounding areas.
The only large patches of forest that remain in South Africa are around Knysna and Tsitsikamma on the Cape south coast, but little patches are scattered throughout the country.
The forest biome can be viewed at the Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve.
Nama Karoo biome occurs in areas with very low rainfall and soils are often very rich, but plant growth is limited by the dry climate. The dominant vegetation is a grassy, dwarf shrub land. Small trees occur along drainage lines and rocky hillsides, while plains are dominated by low shrubs, intermixed with grasses, succulents, geophytes and annual forbs. Temperature ranges can be extreme and rainfall is highly unpredictable.
The Nama Karoo biome can be viewed at the Swartkops Aloe Reserve.
The Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK) is one of the earth’s six floral kingdoms, and is found entirely within the borders of South Africa. It is mostly located in the Western Cape, with Port Elizabeth representing the south east corner of the CFK.
The fynbos biome is characterized by winter rainfall. The vegetation comprises Medium-height bushes, mostly with very small leaves, sometimes with reed-like plants called restios and taller protea bushes.
Most types of fynbos are found on sandy soils, mainly on mountains and along the coast. Fire plays an important role in fynbos, and many fynbos species rely on fires every few years in order for seeds buried in the soil to grow, and to renew the growth of old, woody plants.
The fynbos biome can be viewed at the Cape Recife Nature Reserve.
St George’s Park, is the oldest park in Port Elizabeth and is situated within walking distance of the city centre. Established in 1860, St George’s Park is spread over 73 ha. of pristine wooded parkland and comprise extensive plant collections and specimen trees. The Park incorporates the world famous Port Elizabeth Cricket Club; the founder cricket club in South Africa. The oldest bowling green in South Africa (named “Founders Green”); the St. George’s Park Swimming Pool; Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial as well as the 1882 Victorian Pearson Conservatory which was built for the cultivation of exotic plants, water lilies and beautiful orchids, are also situated in the Park.
Other facilities include a children’s playground. The park is also a favorite for jogging enthusiasts and, on the first Sunday of each month, comes alive with a large concentration of art and craft stalls.
Humewood Beach is South Africa’s oldest blue flag beach and situated between Kings Beach and Hobie Beach along the main beachfront. The beach is ideal for families and is adjacent to Happy Valley. Humewood Beach is South Africa’s oldest blue flag beach and situated between Kings Beach and Hobie Beach along the main beachfront. Adjacent to Happy Valley, the beach is ideal for families and offering sheltered sunbathing.
During the summer holiday season, Happy Valley which is adjacent to Humewood Beach is lit up with coloured lights and depicts children’s stories and rhyme characters. Happy Valley also offers grassy areas which is ideal for picnics.
The beach offers save swimming, rock pools, snorkeling, fishing and other water activities and is manned by life guards.
The popular Hobie Beach, in the vicinity of Shark Rock Pier and the Boardwalk, is the venue for the annual “Splash Festival”, beach volleyball and world boardsailing championships.
Hobie beach, which is a favorite for swimming, sunbathing and body surfing, also offers sheltered rock pools with interesting inter-tidal sealife. Other facilities include plenty of eating establishments, ablution facilities, as well as a launching place for sailing and rubber ducking.
Throwing its long legs into the warm Indian ocean, the Shark Rock Pier, is at once beach architect and icon. The concrete monolith is the reason that today Hobie Beach is amongst the city’s most popular swimming beaches – after its construction saw more sand trapped on the rocky shore, which then gave birth to the sandy expanse known as Hobie Beach, in prime position for urban sun worshippers and water babies.
The only pier in Nelson Mandela Bay, it has become the “sun” the beachfront revolves around – big events are hosted on its shoulder, flags adorn it, people adore it and throngs walk its girth – clutching ice-creams and a desire to be suspended above the water depths that define the Bay.
The 366 hectare Cape Recife Nature Reserve was proclaimed in 1973, and is situated next to the Pine Lodge Holiday Resort off Marine Drive, Summerstrand. A 9 km circular walking trail starts at the entrance gate of the Nature Reserve and offers beautiful unspoilt beaches, natural dune vegetation, rocky outcrops, a lighthouse built in 1851, an old military observation post, as well as a bird hide. The Reserve is also regarded as one of the best bird-watching venues around Port Elizabeth.
Entrance permits available from Pine Lodge Resort located at entrance to Cape Recife Nature Reserve. Entrance only with permit, zero tolerance for diving thus no entry with diving equipment. Price of permits : Weekly @ R32.10 per vehicle, annual (July – end June of each year) @ R163 .30 – reduced to half price from 1 February of each year.
Entrance for purpose of visiting SAMREC is gratis provided proof of visit is produced on exit from the Reserve.
Best times to visit 08h00 – 16H00. Visible security in Reserve during daylight hours.
The SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre is Port Elizabeth’s new marine bird rehabilitation and education centre situated in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve. The Centre’s purpose isn’t just to rescue and rehabilitate, but to also inform and educate the public through their different programs. Tour the marine rehabilitation and education centre and experience nature through sight, sound and touch. Visitors can experience the hospital and see the volunteers in action helping to save our environment, in particular the endangered African Penguin.
Guided hikes in the Cape Recife Nature Reserves are available (Booking is essential)
Rose Trehaeven’s Haunted Historical Walks:
Hear the ghostly tales and love stories that make up Port Elizabeth’s past, as Rose Trehaeven walks you back in time. The Haunted Walk will guide you past scenes of spectres and apparitions, where weird phenomena and legendary characters once revealed themselves. Learn of the great love story that gave the city its name.
The Historical Walk will stroll you through the byways of a bygone age, when sailing ships plied their trade and merchants, beggarmen and thieves rubbed shoulders in the streets of the growing town.
These day walks can be booked at any time, on a mutually agreed basis, for any number of participants. The Donkin Reserve and Route 67 are popular routes. For Bookings or further information contact Rose on 041 583 2584 or 084 261 3882.