On the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, called “PE” by the locals, is South Africa’s third largest port and boasts some of the country’s cleanest city beaches. With more than 40 kilometers of coastline lapped by the clear waters of beautiful Algoa Bay, water sports run the gamut here, from surfing, sailing, swimming, and fishing to windsurfing, kiteboarding, and Scuba diving. But Port Elizabeth is not all about the sea. In the city’s historic hub, the art and heritage trail, Route 67, celebrates the fascinating and sometimes turbulent history of this friendly colonial city. And in the surrounding area, private game reserves and the popular Addo Elephant National Park lure wildlife lovers with affordable guided safaris.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to South Africa then don’t worry too much about the best time to visit Port Elizabeth – the weather here tends to be very stable with year-round moderate temperatures and rain scattered throughout the year. Summers are warm with low humidity levels while winters are mild and pleasant.
Top Places to Visit in Port Elizabeth
1. Addo Elephant National Park
South Africa’s third biggest national park, Addo Elephant National Park lies 72 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth and offers nature lovers the taste of a true African safari. The park encompasses more than 444,000 acres extending from the Karoo, in the north, over the Zuurberg range to the coast. he park was established in 1931 to preserve the last eleven South African bush elephants from extinction. Today, more than 600 of these majestic beasts roam the park as well as Cape buffalo, black rhinos, lions, leopards, zebras, spotted hyenas, numerous antelope, and more than 185 species of birds. Other adventures here include night game drives, horseback riding, and hiking trails. Travelers can choose accommodation options to suit their budget. Day visitors are welcome, and visitors can explore the park in their own car or take a guided tour.
2. Kragga Kamma Game Park
Less than 30-minutes’ drive from Port Elizabeth, Kragga Kamma Game Park welcomes day trippers for self-guided or guided safaris. The park is more affordable than other game viewing options with an impressive array of wildlife for its size, including white rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and monkeys. A favorite are the cheetahs in their own enclosure with a catwalk above for better viewing opportunities. All the other animals roam freely. About a ten-minute drive from Kragga Kamma Game Park, Holmeleigh Farmyard is another critter-filled family attraction.
3. The Donkin Reserve
In the city’s historic hub, the Donkin Reserve is a small park established in 1820 by Sir Rufane Donkin, Port Elizabeth’s founder. A highlight of the park is the poignant pyramid-shaped memorial to Sir Donkin’s wife, Elizabeth, inscribed with the words: “To the memory of one of the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below.” The nearby lighthouse, dating from 1861, houses the tourism office. The Donkin Reserve is also the start of Route 67, the city’s popular art and heritage trail.
4. Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve
About 40 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth, Van Stadens Nature Reserve is the perfect place for a hike and a picnic. The well-maintained paths are easy to follow and the walks vary in difficulty, from gentle paths through old-growth native trees to more challenging hikes through thick forests and along rushing streams. Those who walk to the Van Stadens bridge will be rewarded with beautiful views over the steep ravine and fantastic opportunities for photography. At reception, a flower house displays a startling array of blooms, including many species of proteas. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and pack a picnic.
Port Elizabeth boasts some of the tidiest and safest city beaches in South Africa. More than 40 kilometers of sun-splashed sand rims the coast along Algoa Bay. The best picks for a swim are Wells Estate Beach with a paddling pool and water slides; well-shaded Humewood Beach; and popular Kings Beach, with kiosks, restaurants, a skate park, and other entertainment facilities close by. Near the Boardwalk entertainment complex, Hobie Beach offers sheltered rock pools and is well suited for swimming and windsurfing. Pollock Beach is a top surfing spot, and unspoiled Sardinia Bay, in a marine reserve, is great for snorkeling and scuba diving, although fishing is off limits. Avid anglers should head to the northern beaches such as New Brighton Beach and Bluewater Bay.