Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Down the Wild Coast to Port Elizabeth

2008-11-01 - Durban to Drakensberg

We leave Durban early so most of the group can take a 4x4 expedition to Lesotho. I opt to stay with the bus and go to the hotel for an early check-in at the Drakensberg Gardens Resort. This resort is located in the Drakensberg mountain range, our second World Heritage Site we have experienced in South Africa. The resort has an 18 hole golf course, multiple dining rooms and bars, hiking trails, pool, spa, lawn bowling, pitch-and-put, and a great deal more to do. I have a nice lunch on the patio and then go back to my room and sleep for a couple of hours this afternoon to catch up on the lack of sleep last night in Durban (due to noise from street parties). Feeling better, I go for a hike along the river for an hour before dinner, which is a buffet and is part of the tariff. The resort staff perform a floor show of Zulu singing and dancing – they are quite good, and I take some video.

2008-11-02 - Drakensberg - Coffee Bay

We drive through the Transkei Province, which is a former homeland area for blacks (under apartheid). Lack of water is a big problem in this area, and there is livestock wandering all over the highway. Ocean View Hotel at Coffee Bay is our overnight accommodation, and I have a room with a nice view of the ocean. I take my first dip in the Indian Ocean this afternoon at Coffee Bay, and body surf for awhile, which is fun! We also spot a whale.

2008-11-02 - Coffee Bay - East London

We have a late departure this morning (10:30am), so I walk the full length of the beach. There were some surfers and wake boarders out this morning, as well as some dolphins just past the surf line.

We stop along the highway to see Nelson Mandela's house, which is actually south of Mtatha (aka Umtata) in a little town called Qunu. His house is quite big, with a brick wall, gate, and security. He doesn't live there anymore, but some of family does. He comes back to his hometown to celebrate his birthdays.

We arrive in East London around 3:30pm at the Kennaway Hotel, an old hotel that is in pretty good shape, and is located right on the waterfront.

2008-11-04 - East London to Port Elizabeth

We see a whale with its tail sticking vertically out of the ocean this morning before we leave East London. We stop for coffee in a little picturesque town called Bathurst, where we have some lovely scones and coffee before carrying on to Grahamstown for our lunch stop. Grahamstown is a quite affluent area, so we are free to roam around town as much as we wish. We go to the Observatory Museum, where there is a reflecting telescope and a working camera obscura, both acquired and built by an early English settler called H.C. Galpin. He made a living as a watch and clock maker.

On our way out of Grahamstown, we stop to see the 1820 Settlers National Monument, which offers good views of the town from high on a hill, but it really doesn't have much else to offer. It is then a fairly long drive to Port Elizabeth, with the salt ponds and new harbor appearing just north of Port Elizabeth itself. Port Elizabeth is a busy city, and it's residents are quite affluent. We are officially now on the Garden Coast. The vegetation is much greener than before, and the rivers are no longer dry. Huge farms are visible along the expressway, and there are some spectacular sandy beaches as well.

1 comment:

MyPE said...

Hi Joe

Have a look at a Reason a Day to Visit Port Elizabeth - http://mype.co.za/visit/, compiled by one our Forum members.

It looks like you slipped past Port Elizabeth, but, if you are in town and would like to go sailing, give me a shout.