If you’re looking for an iconic city steeped in history and beauty with a passion for rugby then Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth ticks all of those boxes as the Guinness PRO14 comes to town.
Fans travelling from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy with be able to take in a new experience of an historic city as part of the expanded competition as the Southern Kings to stage their ten home games.
The Kings will be rolling out the red carpet at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and if you’re heading to the historic city here’s everything you need to know about Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth).
Port Elizabeth, otherwise known as The Bay and now Nelson Mandela Bay to honour South Africa’s most iconic leader, is situated on the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is one of the largest cities in the country.
Nelson Mandela Bay which includes Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Despatch and Colchester provides excellent value for money for families looking for a sun destination while following their favourite team on their new South African adventures in the Guinness PRO14.
Also known as ‘the Friendly City’ and the ‘City of Freedom’ Port Elizabeth is home to more than one million people and although British settlers became permanent residents in 1820, the area was first discovered by Bartolomeu Dias, the Portuguese explorer who was seeking a route east in 1488.
The “Bay” was later named “Baia de Lagoa” by navigator and cartographer Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo in 1576. Then in 1820, 4,000 British Settlers arrived by sea in 1820, to become the first permanent British residents in the Albany District. On 6 June 1820, Sir Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, named the new sea port in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth. (https://www.nmbt.co.za/port_elizabeth.html)
What to see
No matter when you’re visiting one of the country’s major sea ports, you can expect to enjoy warm weather, and Nelson Mandela Bay offers a wealth of water sports.
If you want to explore the city on a personal level, then the 5km trail that follows the footsteps of the 1820 settlers is just for you. Known as the Donkin Heritage Trail and part of the famous Route 67, the walk links 47 national monuments and historic sites across central Port Elizabeth.
The outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay are brimming with nature and if you’re a fan of wildlife, then you should head to the Addo Elephant Park, home to more than 550 elephants and is the third largest national park in the whole of South Africa.
You can also take in the natural beauty along the Sundays River, which gives you a glimpse of the stunning scenery and heads up to the idyllic Algoa Bay.
Nelson Mandela Bay is littered with phenomenal museums and anywhere you go there are opportunities to sample its impressive culture.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum would be a perfect place to start on your cultural tour of the city. It is housed in two grand buildings in St George’s Park and is home to a comprehensive collection of South African art as well as craft from the Eastern Cape Province.
One of the most popular open spaces in the entire province, Donkin Reserve, situated along the Garden Route is a must for anyone visiting the area. The area is bustling with beautiful mosaic art as well as the lighthouse which allows you to get a stunning view of Port Elizabeth harbour.
In addition, Cape Recife Lighthouse is one of South Africa’s most iconic lighthouses and packs plenty of history as well – the Cape was given its name by the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497. The unmistakable black and white banded tower has stood at the south entrance of Algoa Bay since 1851.
What to do
If you’re looking for an adrenaline kick, then the Maitland Sand Dunes provide the perfect opportunity to test out your sandboarding. They are easily accessible and make their way towards the Maitland Nature Reserve.
There are plenty of excursions for thrill seekers travelling to Port Elizabeth – including the world’s highest bungee bridge, Bloukrans Bridge.
After being picked up at Port Elizabeth International Airport, you will witness some spectacular scenery while taking the plunge.
If sampling nature is your thing then you’re in luck. The Addo Elephant National Park is right on the doorstep of Nelson Mandela Bay while the Kragga Kamma Game Park should also be on your list of places to see.
You can either sleep in the camp or take self-drives during the day where you can see white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and many others.
Eat and drink
It’s no surprise that seafood is widespread throughout Nelson Mandela Bay and sampling its local cuisine is an absolute must.
If you’re looking to enjoy the food and the view then head to Blue Waters Café which gives you a great combination of the two. The steakhouse and seafood restaurant overlooks the Algoa Bay with sunset views you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the area.
History beckons at Old Austria where you’ll find the oldest restaurant in the whole of Nelson Mandela Bay. The elegantly refurbish Victorian home, it provides fresh fish dishes as well as old Austrian favourites.
Sampling the local tipple is also essential and For the Love of Wine is exactly where you should start if you’re partial to a bottle of red.
If beer is more your taste then Bridge Street Brewery is your calling. This passionate local microbrewery with a fine range of hand selected beers to kick start your matchday experience.
The Southern Kings play their rugby at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was built for the 2010 Football World Cup. It is a 46,000-seater stadium in Port Elizabeth and has hosted Springbok matches, as well as South African leg of the World Rugby Seven Series for four years.
If you’re looking to sit in the East Stand, West Stand or Royal Lounge then matchday tickets are available from the Stadium TicketPro office or online at www.ticketpros.co.za
However, scholar tickets in either East or West Stands will only be available to purchase from the Stadium TicketPro Office.
For more information visit: https://www.nmbt.co.za/