PE Day-Trips: 3 Nelson Mandela Bay routes to try this December

2017-11-24 13:30 - Anje Rautenbach
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Photo: iStock

The open road, exploring the countryside, the wind in your hair, pit stops, photo stops, farm stall stops, epic tunes, friends and family are all important ingredients for an unforgettable road trip – and vacation - in South Africa. Staying put in one location is not for everyone and while there’s certainly more than enough to keep you busy in the area of Nelson Mandela Bay, the road beckons you to discover more.

Fill up, pack some padkos and hit the road!

Get off-road – Zuurberg

If you have a 4x4 and want to get some dirt and dust on its tyres then the Zuurberg Pass might just be the way to go. The pass – built in the 1850s as the main route between PE and the Karoo - is approximately 35km north of Addo Elephant National Park (another great adventure to enjoy if you’re in Port Elizabeth during the holidays) and it goes over all four tiers of the Zuurberg Mountain range. Pack some padkos, get into low range and be prepared to experience a slice of nature that will drop your jaw to the floor.

Where to stop along the way: Ann’s Villa is situated at the foot of the Zuurberg Pass and features a blacksmith museum that dates back to the 1800s.
Round-trip distance from Port Elizabeth
: + 250km
Where to eat:
Zuurberg Mountain Inn (old school Sunday lunches available).
What to do:
Marvel at the folds of the Zuurberg Mountains, do one of the hiking trails at Zuurberg Mountain Inn or opt for horse-riding before you continue your journey over Zuurberg Pass ((SANParks conservation fee applicable for hiking and horse-riding).

Go on an ocean adventure – Cape St Francis

Escaping the crowds when you’re in need of a day on the beach is extremely difficult during South Africa’s peak beach season and unless you know of a very private beach, that is accessible via a very quiet road, then you need to be prepared to share the sand with some strangers. But it is not bad at all. While thousands of vacationers flock to Jeffreys Bay in December, the shores of Cape St Francis is a bit quieter; and when you head a bit more west from Seal Point Lighthouse, the holiday chatter will fade into the distance.

Between St Francis and Cape St Francis, the restaurants, the canals and the fresh ocean air, you might even want to head back for another day trip.

Where to stop along the way: Crossways Country Kitchen.

Round-trip distance from Port Elizabeth:
+ 240 km.
Where to eat:
Rambling Rose Tea Garden & Coffee Shop.
What to do:
Swim, sit in the sun, walk along the beach, explore the rocks at Seal Point Lighthouse, visit and support SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds), go on a sunset or eco cruise, brave the waves and learn how to surf with Surf Camp South Africa or try stand-up paddle boarding and kitesurfing.  Cape St. Francis and St. Francis are your oyster of ocean-based activities, dig in.

Just you and nature – Groendal Wilderness Area

Groendal Wilderness Area is a stretch of 30 000 hectares of unspoiled and remote natural beauty that cuts through numerous streams and ravines. It is a haven for nature lovers, hikers – there is a short trail of 4km and a longer one of 16 km, and birdwatchers; up to 180 species have been recorded in the area. Apart from the diverse fauna and flora, the crystal clear pools – such as Crystal Cavern Pool hikers will encounter on the 16km Blindekloof Trail – are one of the biggest highlights to the area and the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer’s day.

Where to stop along the way: You can reach Groendal Wilderness Area via Uitenhage so make a stop at the automotive museum, VW Pavilion, along the way or grab a coffee from Sjiek Shack.
Round-trip distance from Port Elizabeth:
+ 90km.
Where to eat:
Pack your own lunch.
What to do:
Hike, swim and forget about the world. Life doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going Somewhere Slowly, find her FacebookTwitter or on Instagram 

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