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Port Elizabeth

Photo © BabetteJay

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth

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Introduction

Port Elizabeth (also known as 'Die Baai' in Afrikaans) is an industrial city situated on the coast of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. A colourful blend of leafy middle-class suburbs and corrugated iron shanty towns, it's often the final stopping point for travellers taking the scenic Garden Route from Cape Town. The main attraction of the city is it's sandy beaches, and the South African surfing mecca Jeffreys Bay is just a short drive down the coast.

For those looking for a safari adventure, Port Elizabeth serves as a good base-point to travel to a number of nearby game reserves. The largerst is the Addo Elephant National Park, a Big-5 game reserve with one of the densest concentrations of African elephants on earth. A number of private reserves also exist in the area offering a more luxury bush experience, namely Shamwari, Amakhala, Lalibela and Kwandwe.

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Sights and Activities

The well-developed beachfront is the city's main attraction, but there are other worthwhile options for those spending a little time in the area.

The Donkin Heritage Trail is a 5-kilometre-long tour of the cultural history of Port Elizabeth. The route includes a 19th century lighthouse, the Campanile bell tower, the Port Elizabeth City Hall, and many other examples of Victorian architecture.

A small number of township tours operate in the city, offering an eye-opening insight into some of the lasting effects of the apartheid era.

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Events and Festivals

World Cup 2010

The big upcoming event on the South African horizon is of course the FIFA World Cup beginning on the 11th of June 2010. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promises to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (known as soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vie for the famous golden trophy.

Port Elizabeth will be hosting some of the World Cup matches at the Nelso Mandela Bay Stadium, which has a capacity of 48,000.

Ironman South Africa

The Ironman South Africa annual event takes place in Port Elizabeth. It attracts 1000+ triathlon competitors to the city for a superb and challenging event. This year, the Ironman event takes place on Sunday, 5 April. For more information, visit the Ironman website.

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Weather

Average temperatures are between 20 degrees in June and July to around 27 degrees in January. Nights average between 7 and 17 degrees respectively. Rainfall is quite evenly distributed throughout the year regarding the amount, but between May and September there are less rainy days, but with heavier shower.

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Getting There

By Plane

Port Elizabeth Airport (IATA: PLZ) offers a range of flights. Destinations include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, East London, Lanseria and Durban.

By Train

Shosholoza Meyl has the following trains:

  • Cape Town - Port Elizabeth via Oudtshoorn, 24 hours, premier class only, once weekly
  • Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth via Kroonstad, Bloemfontein and Craddock, 21 hours, tourist class twice a week and daily economy class (except Saturday)

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Getting Around

By Car

Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and First Car Rental have branches in Port Elizabeth.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
1 Cora TerracePO Box 7171 Newton ParkHostel-
4 Park Lane Backpacker Lodge4 Park LaneHostel-
5 Third Avenue Guest House5 3rd Avenue WalmerGuesthouse-
99Miles Beach Lodge4 Jenvey Way SummerstrandGuesthouse82
At Sta-Plus11A, 10th Avenue SummerstrandGuesthouse-
Ikhayalam Lodge25 Windermere Rd Humewood Port ElizabethHostel-
Jikeleza Lodge International Backpackers Hostel44 Cuyler Street CentralHostel78
Lungile Lodge beachfront backpackers12 laroche drive humewood port elizabethHostel83
The Hippo Backpackers14 Glen Street Richmond HillHostel83
Kings Beach Backpackers41 Windermere Rd HumewoodHostel-
Petworth Place14 Florence StreetHotel-
Mandela Bay Safari Club & Backpackers47 Eastbourne Rd Mount CroixHostel-
Le Blue Guesthouse21 De Mist Circle, Bluewater BayGuesthouse-
Lily Pond Backpackers58 Western Road Port ElizabethHostel-
Millbrook Guest HouseNo.1-2 Havelock Square Central HillGuesthouse-
BallynaFagh FarmKruis Rivier Uitenhage Eastern CapeGUESTHOUSE-
Homeleigh Halt Guest House253 Main Road WalmerGUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Big cities and most of the popular places in the country usually have an internet café though they are not as abundant as in, for example, Asia or South America. It's also relatively expensive, usually 20-30 rand an hour, sometimes even more. Many of the accommodation options have internet access available, either wireless with your own laptop or by their own computer(s). Wireless access is also available throughout the country in more and more cafes and eateries, sometimes free and sometimes for a small fee. Note that you usually have to login anyway and agree with the terms and conditions. It is cheapest to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes a lot cheaper if you buy a data bundle. In general coverage is good except the more rural parts of the northern and northwestern parts of the country (especially Northern Cape).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.

Post

The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -33.9581
  • Longitude: 25.6192

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This is version 35. Last edited at 6:33 on Oct 16, 13 by Utrecht. 22 articles link to this page.

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