Port Elizabeth



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Port Elizabeth
Museum complex - Port Elizabeth's most popular attraction consists of a complex on the beachfront that includes the Oceanarium, a museum, tropical house and snake park. The Bayworld Oceanarium is famed for its performing Bottlenose dolphin shows, enjoyed by thousands every year. Besides the large dolphin pool with its underwater viewing area the oceanarium also features an aquarium tank where visitors can watch a vast array of marine life through glass portholes as they glide by, including sharks, turtles and rays.

Market Square - Port Elizabeth's architectural heritage can be traced by taking a walk around the central city Market Square, which features several historic buildings. The centrepiece of the square is the aesthetically pleasing City Hall, dating from 1858, topped with an attractive clock tower. Also in the square is a replica of the Diaz Cross that commemorates the first European to set foot in Algoa Bay in 1488, when Dutch explorer Bartholomew Diaz stopped over on his way east. Alongside the city hall is the Prester John Memorial, dedicated to the Portuguese explorers who landed in South Africa.

Donkin Reserve - On a hill above the centre of the city stands a stone pyramid monument with an adjacent lighthouse. The open public space was proclaimed in perpetuity by Sir Rufane Donkin, acting British Governor of the Cape, when the 1820 Settlers arrived in Algoa Bay. Donkin named the new settlement after his wife, Elizabeth, who had died in India two years' previously, and erected the pyramid in her memory. The lighthouse was built in 1861, and today houses the city's Tourist Information Centre.

Addo Elephant Park - The most popular game reserve in the Port Elizabeth area is the Addo Elephant Park, just a 45-minute drive from the city. There are currently more than 300 elephants in residence in the park, which was recently enlarged. Addo was proclaimed in 1931 in an effort to save the remaining 11 elephants indigenous to the area. The elephants are drawn to watering holes at certain times and sightings are virtually guaranteed all year round. There are other animals in the park too, including black rhino, buffalo, zebra, warthog and several types of buck. Guided game drives are available or visitors can do a self-drive tour using the map issued at the entrance. Serviced accommodation is available and there is a restaurant and picnic site at the Park.

Jeffrey's Bay - A short drive to the west of Port Elizabeth is the surfing mecca of Jeffrey's Bay (known colloquially as 'J-Bay'). The seaside town plays host to the world Billabong Professional surfing contest every July, and is famed for it's 'supertubes', South Africa's perfect wave. The town is bustling, with several stores selling branded surfing gear, and several flashy cafes and restaurants. The long stretches of sandy beach around the town are also renowned for their shells.

Shamwari Game Reserve - The multi-award winning private game reserve of Shamwari lies less than an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth and has been responsible for re-introducing numerous species into the Eastern Cape plains, including all of the Big Five - lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo . The reserve offers luxury accommodation, but also hosts visitors on day trips from the city. Day tours include a visit to an African art and culture village to sample Xhosa culture and traditionally brewed beer, and a visit to the Born Free centre for abused animals.

Grahamstown - The historic settler town of Grahamstown, 78 miles (125km) northeast of Port Elizabeth, is presided over, from the top of Gunfire Hill, by the 1820 Settler's National Monument, an arts and theatre complex which forms the focus of the town's annual internationally recognised Arts Festival held in July. Grahamstown was founded in 1815 as a garrison to drive the Xhosa eastwards across the Fish River frontier, giving rise to a century of frontier war. The town has an English colonial flavour, and is home to the renowned Rhodes University and some top private boarding schools. There are several museums, including the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology where two stuffed specimens of the coelacanth are on display. The town also boasts the only Victorian camera obscura in the southern hemisphere.