Wildlife, Game Farms and Nature in Port Elizabeth
From rocky shores to indigenous floral fynbos: from stretches of golden beaches and unspoilt sand-dunes to lush indigenous forest and untamed wilderness areas, the nature reserves within, and on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth offer a wonderful portal to the great outdoors.
Located in and around the city are: Settler’s Park, Van Staden’s Wild Flower Reserve, The Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Maitlands Nature Reserve, The Island Nature Reserve, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and Groendal Wilderness Area.
Game viewing in Nelson Mandela Bay is an activity everyone should enjoy. The numerous game reserves in and around the city offer the perfect mix of fauna and flora. These splendid, sometimes untouched areas are developing into some of South Africa’s main game viewing destinations.
The Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed in 1931 to save the Eastern Cape Elephant and Cape Buffalo from extinction. It is now home to over 450 elephant, and offers an unbeatable opportunity to view these fascinating giants of the African bush. The Big 7 which comprises elephants, Cape buffalo, leopard, black rhino, lions, great white shark and seasonal southern right whale can be viewed at the Addo Elephant National Park. The Addo bush also offers sanctuary to a myriad of birds, the black rhino, numerous buck species as well as the unique flightless dung beetle. The park is situated 72km north of Nelson Mandela Bay near the Zuurberg Mountain Range and offers guided or self-drive options and accommodation.
Game viewing experiences can be enjoyed on many of the private game lodges in the area – providing each visitor with wonderful close-up encounters. Game drives in open vehicles are very popular for game viewing but guided walks are also available. The lodges offer accommodation ranging from cost effective to luxurious 5-star accommodation in a malaria free environment.
Life in the Sea
The “gentle giants of the ocean” are a familiar site in Algoa Bay. Pods of dolphins and whales can be seen making their way along the coast all year round. The Southern Right Whale is a spectacular sight to see especially during mating season, between July and October. The Bay’s calm conditions and warm water make it the perfect nursery for calving and feeding. Humpback whales can be seen when they pass through during June and July and again in November and December. Bryde’s whales, Bottlenose dolphins, Cape Fur seals, gannets and cormorants can be spotted throughout the year.
Birds and Birding
The Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch area is well known for its abundant bird life.
Settler’s Park, Cape Recife Nature Reserve and the Zwartkops estuary are among the best locations for bird-watching. The Cape Recife Nature Reserve with its unique bird-hide and the Zwartkops Estuary which boasts groups of flamingos wading in the salt-pans are frequently visited by avid bird lovers. In addition Happy Valley, Quarryman Park, Willow Dam and Groendal Wilderness Area in Uitenhage, are also acclaimed for their wide variety of bird species.
Sand dunes and natural vegetation
Three river mouths form an integral part of the Bay; The Sundays River Mouth which is home to the highest dunes south of the Namib Desert and the Alexandria Dune Fields; the Maitland River mouth which is located at the foot of the famous Maitland dune “mountain”; and the Van Stadens River mouth which is near the longest concrete arch bridge in Southern Africa.
Not only is the Eastern Cape developing into a major destination for wildlife and nature lovers but it is also the meeting ground of six major converging biomes.
The area boasts a treasure chest of picturesque landscapes, near pristine natural areas and a rich diversity of vegetation. As a result, the region is fast developing a reputation as South Africa’s favourite eco-destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers – in a malaria free environment.
The 6 biomes found in the area are:
- The Savannah Biome which includes the valley bushveld flora of the summer rainfall area,
- The Fynbos Biome characteristic of a winter rainfall,
- The Grassland Biome which includes Flora of higher altitudes,
- The Succulent-Karoo Biome with its Flora flourishing under arid and semi-arid conditions,
- The Thornfelt-Karoo Biome and
- The Indigenous Forest Biome.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism