The last time I had the opportunity to travel to the Eastern Cape was for the #CoronaEscapeRoute in Jeffrey’s Bay. We were in Port Elizabeth for a brief moment so I didn’t get to really explore the beautiful, windy city. This time around I had the chance to get to know the city a little better.
Day 1: Port Elizabeth
I had to wake up super early to catch my red-eye flight to Port Elizabeth on Monday morning. By 8am I had landed safely and was ready to meet the other journos that would be travelling with me. After dropping off our bags at The Beach Hotel, our day started! Off to the city we went to take a guided tour through Route 67.
Route 67 is a 90 minute walking tour dedicated to the 67 years that Mandela fought for the freedom and democracy in South Africa. There 67 art works along the route which starts off at The Campanile (an italian word for ‘bell tower‘). The Campanile has 204 stairs leading you up to the top to view all angleSs of Port Elizabeth. From the top you can spot Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as well as the Deep Sea Harbour that is 30 meters deep! Along the route, we walked through Market Square that’s now named after Poet and Unionist, Vuyisile Mini were we spotted a huge fishbone art installation. The tour ends at the colourful 470 square meter Piazza Mosaic situated between the Pyramid and the Great Flag.
After walking through the very quiet city, we took a drive down to the Alexandria Dunes, a reserve on the Sunshine Coast. We took a short cruise down the Sunday’s River to the dunes to go sandboarding, I wasn’t feeling to great so I gave it a skip but accompanied my travel buddies. The instructors gave everyone a quick demo and training on how to get up and surf the sand. The famous Alexandria coastal dunes field is the largest and least degraded dune field in South Africa so it was quite a sight to see. I walked straight to the top to take in the breathtaking views. You can book this activity with Sundaze River Adventures who provide the boat cruise to the dunes and equipment. Be sure that you are wearing flip flops, sunnies, swimwear or lose fitting clothes. Oh and bring a camera! You will want to capture everything. it’s really a unique experience.
After a very long day in the sun, we went back to our hotel to freshen up before heading to Black Impala Tshisanyama. Upon arrival the owner greeted us with a hot bowl of mogodu (tripe) and pap as a started before the platter of braai (wors, chicken, chops), salads and more pap. My tummy has never been happier.
Day 2: Cape St. Francis Bay
After a hearty breakfast at The Beach hotel, we packed up our car and headed to St Francis Bay, a quick two-hour drive outside of Port Elizabeth. The weather wasn’t the greatest when we arrived so we quickly fuelled up on some hot chocolates before heading to the speedboat that would take us on a smooth cruise down the canals.
This is the largest canal system in South Africa. During our cruise we learnt more about chaka (calamari) fishing, it is all done by hand and the fishermen are usually out at sea for a good 3 weeks. 98% of our calamari is exported to Europe so the calamari that you ate yesterday was probably imported from another country because it’s actually cheaper to buy imported calamari than to buy locally sourced. How insane? Upon our return from the beautiful lake house where we had a delicious braai in the sun, we took a quick shot left to St Francis Links to admire the beautiful golf course that has the most amazing views I have ever seen. We each got to drive our own golf carts around the fairways and even got to take off our shoes to try to see if we could feel the difference of the grass followed by a glass of wine to take in the incredible sunset.
Day 3: Tsitsikamma Village
Leaving our beautiful beach house at Cape St. Francis Resort was such a painful experience; the house was just so perfect! We packed up once again and made our last journey to Tsitsikamma. The weather was a bit gloomy but our group was excited to get our last bit of our adventure in before heading back home. I decided to take the segway tour through the Tsitsikamma forest, I must say, manoeuvring a segway isn’t as easy as it looks but once I got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun! After our little adventure, we stopped at the Marylin 60’s Diner for lunch. We all indulged in American style burgers and hot chocolates as it was so cold.
Our last day was Tourism Month Launch Event took place where we were staying, the Tsitsikamma Village Inn. Amongst us were other media, government dignitaries and Tourism Board officials. We were address by Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom and the CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona.
Sis Ntshona announced at the media launch event of Tourism month that during September, we would have Travel Week which promises locals great discounts on travel deals, an equivalent of Black Friday! My kind of sale!
The aim of this initiative is to make travel accessible to all and to get South Africans exploring their own country. So let’s save our coins and discover more of our beautiful country!
Where in South Africa would you love to travel to?