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Port Elizabeth

Country
South Africa
State
Eastern Cape
City
Port Elizabeth
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Port Elizabeth - usually abbreviated by South Africans to P.E. - is South Africa's fifth largest city and its third largest port. Along with Uitenhage and Kirkwood it forms the industrial and commercial center of the Eastern Cape. In this "Detroit of South Africa" the most important branch of industry is automobile manufacture, second place being taken by weaving mills. In cultural matters Port Elizabeth can stand comparison with other large South African cities: it has a University, with 5,000 students, and a range of other educational institutions including a college of technology.

But Port Elizabeth is also a popular holiday resort, with an attractive townscape, endlessly long beaches, particularly to the south of the city, and an interesting hinterland.

Originally this was an area of grassland used by a Hottentot tribe as grazing for their livestock. The first Europeans to discover Algoa Bay, in which the city lies, were Portuguese navigators, beginning with Bartolomeu Diaz, who landed at the east end of the bay in 1488. Port Elizabeth, however, was not founded until 1820, when British settlers arrived in Algoa Bay. Sir Rufane Donkin, acting Governor of the Cape, came here to welcome the pioneers and named the new settlement after his wife Elizabeth, who had died young. The place developed only very slowly, receiving its charter as a town in 1861.

Although a number of freeways run through the city center, Port Elizabeth has preserved an attractive aspect, with handsome Victorian buildings as well as modern high-rise blocks. The central area extends over a level coastal strip of land and the steep hill at its west end on which is the Donkin Reserve.



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How to Reach

By Air

Port Elizabeth Airport is located just a few kilometres out of the city and has regular flights to Johannesburg, Durban and other South African airports. If you come from other countries, you have to fly to Johannesburg or Cape Town first and then take a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth Airport. The airport is located five kilometres west of the Capital Business District and three kilometres from the beautiful Algoa Bay.

Despite its size, the airport is equipped with facilities for passengers including an ATM, restaurant, sweet shop and business centre. It is also disabled-friendly. There are shuttle bus services and taxis waiting to take you into the city.

By Train

Alternatively, you can also get here by train. The central train station is in downtown Port Elizabeth on Station Street, and it offers connections to Johannesburg and Cape Town. However, the trains are very slow. It takes about one day to get to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town and about 19 hours from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. If you want to travel in luxury, opt for the Blue Train, which offers spacious, fully-equipped cabins, with meals being included in the ticket price.

By Car

Those with a car can easily get to Port Elizabeth by motorway. You can drive from Cape Town via the Garden Route, Bloemfontein and East London to get to Port Elizabeth. This is the most popular route, as it provides stunning views of forests, lakes and valleys.

By Bus

All major South African coach companies offer regular buses to Port Elizabeth. One of the most popular is Intercape, serving Cape Town daily from Port Elizabeth along the Garden Route and the Overberg. Travelling by bus to Port Elizabeth is convenient and you can enjoy picturesque scenery along the way.

Key places to visit
Addo Elephant National Park, Jeffrey's Bay, Zuurberg National Park, Port Elizabeth Museum, Oceanarium


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Places to Visit

Addo Elephant National Park

The Addo Elephant National Park (area 14,551ha/35,941ac) lies 72km/45mi north of Port Elizabeth between the Zuurberg range and the valley of the Sundays River. It was established in 1931 to preserve the last eleven South African bush elephants from extinction (there are now some 450 elephants in the reserve). The valuable Cape buffalo has also been preserved here. Other animals to be seen in the park include black rhinos and numerous species of antelope (bushbucks, kudus, red hartebeests, elands, Cape grysboks, duikers, etc.). Among nocturnal animals found here are porcupines, anteaters and bush pigs. 185 species of birds have been recorded, including Cape thick-knees, bronze-naped pigeons, ostriches, little swifts, quails, wattled starlings, Cape red-shouldered glossy starlings and kites. The bush in the park consists of low-growing trees and climbing plants. The dominant plant is the spekboom bush, the elephants' main source of food. The best place to see elephants is at one of the six waterholes in the park. For bird-watchers there is an observation platform at the entrance to the park.

Accommodation for visitors is available in rondavels, cottages, chalets and a camping site, and there are a restaurant and a shop. Day visitors are also welcome. The park can be explored by visitors in their own car. There is also an area surrounded by an elephant-proof fence in which they can walk freely.

Jeffrey's Bay

This town is a mecca for active travellers who are up for fun activities. Not far from the centre of Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay is an ideal place for the whole family. Surfers usually come here for the many surfing spots, boasting fabulous breaks. There are also many beaches which are safe for swimming. Those not into water sports can enjoy golf, tennis, squash, horseback riding, cycling and hiking. The seashells are also famous here, and you can find the Shell Museum opposite Main Beach, where local craftsmen offer delicate shell art for sale.

Oceanarium

The Oceanarium has a large number of aquarium tanks in which fish and other marine creatures live in near natural conditions, but its great attraction is the dolphin show presented daily.

Zuurberg National Park

The Zuurberg National Park (area 20,777ha/51,319ac) lies in the Winterhoek Mountains 12km/71\2mi north of the Addo National Park. It is a hilly region with deep rocky ravines in which rare and beautiful plants flourish. There are expanses of fynbos scrub, including the low-growing sugarbush. Among the animals to be seen in the park are numerous antelopes and gazelles, including mountain reedbucks and rheboks, as well as baboons, caracals and jackals. Kudus are to be found both within and outside the park. Mountain zebras and hippopotamuses have been re-established here.

Port Elizabeth Museum

Visitors who have more time at their disposal should pay a visit to this museum complex, situated on the coast to the south of the city center. The main building contains the departments of archaeology and anthropology.

Right Time to Visit

April - September

Temperature

January - February -> 25(°C) - Summer
July - August -> 7(°C) - Spring


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