Rita, outside Belvedere Cottages
Port Elizabeth South Africa
Port Elizabeth offers visitors a variety of stunning beaches, fascinating museums and memorials, award-winning private game reserves teeming with wildlife, cultural and historical points of interest, and the friendliest folk in the country.
Port Elizabeth – also known as the Windy City, Ibhayi (‘the bay’ in isiXhosa) or the Friendly City. Locals proudly boasts that everything lies within 15 minutes from the airport.
It is one of the largest cities in South Africa, and lies 770km east of Cape Town, where it forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which links the city with the inland industrial towns of Uitenhage and Despatch.
Algoa Bay, the coastal strip of Nelson Mandela Bay, incorporates a 40km stretch of beaches, with protected areas for swimming at Kings Beach, Hobie Beach, Humewood Beach (which has world-class Blue Flag-status), Pollock Beach and Denville Beach. Fishing, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing are enjoyed at less-populated spots such as Wildside, Sardinia Bay, Blue Horizon Bay, Bluewater Bay, Beachview and Schoenmakerskop.
Historical and cultural icons worth visiting in Port Elizabeth include the Red Location Museum, a museum in New Brighton township that portrays ‘both the horrors of institutionalised racism and the heroic efforts of the anti-apartheid movement’; the South African Air Force Museum; the Donkin Reserve, proclaimed by city founder Sir Rufane Donkin, where birds, benches, walking paths, an opera house, a lighthouse and a memorial may be seen; and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and Prince Alfred's Guard Memorial, both located in St George's Park – the oldest park in Port Elizabeth and home to the St George's cricket oval.
Port Elizabeth is also home to Route 67 – a collection of 67 art pieces celebrating the years Nelson Mandela devoted to public life. It is a mix of visual arts, urban design and heritage, showcasing old Victorian churches; terraced cottages on Donkin Street – where massive silver pipes catch the famous winds of Port Elizabeth and make music; a lighthouse that once guided ships into Algoa Bay; and a large pyramid built by Donkin in memory of his wife.
There is also a large metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela symbolically leading South Africans to vote in the country’s first democratic election.
While in the Windy City, you cannot pass the opportunity to visit the city’s multipurpose, multi-tiered Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, an impressive legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Nelson Mandela Bay prides itself on offering the Big Seven of the animal kingdom. In addition to the Big Five – lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant – visitors to the nearby 180 000ha Addo Elephant National Park can see the great white shark and southern right whale in the bay waters off the park.
Port Elizabeth is a outdoor-lover’s paradise, don’t miss out on boat cruises; diving opportunities; a visit to the Seaview Predator Park; an excursion to Bayworld (which incorporates an oceanarium, museum and snake park); or a trip to the lush forests of the Kragga Kamma Game Park, where white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, nyala, bontebok, lechwe and other animals roams freely.
Visit the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex, where shops, eateries, an amphitheatre and casino keep patrons entertained for hours.
Climb the 52m tower with 204 steps leading to the top, known as the Campanile Memorial, a monument that stands sentinel over the Port Elizabeth harbour. It was built in 1923 to honour the arrival of 1820 British Settlers.
The Settler influence is captured at No 7 Castle Hill, built in 1830. This is one of the oldest surviving Settler cottages in the city and encapsulates domestic life of 19th-century middle class, complete with cobbled courtyard and an operational well.