Sunset at Sardinia Bay

The dune at Sardinia Bay is probably the best and most popular spot in Port Elizabeth to enjoy a beautiful sunset. We haven’t been for ages and I got tired of seeing other people post photos of it on Facebook, so on Tuesday afternoon I made a suggestion to go when I got home from work and was still putting down my bag when I heard the door close as everybody headed for the car.

Common Dolphins in Algoa Bay

Cruising Algoa Bay with Raggy Charters is like a luxury lucky packet. You kinda know what you could find, but when you do it like wow in overdrive. As a tourism marketer promoting the Eastern Cape I have spoken about Raggy Charters and promoted what Algoa Bay has to offer for years with so many invites to join them on a cruise. Something just always came up until I got to finally join them on a cruise a little while ago. Our first big wow of the cruise was a pod of Common Dolphins cashing a sardine bait ball. We followed the pod cameras clicking and at times it felt like the boat was going full tilt to keep up.

Common Dolphins (Delphinus Capensis) is the most widespread and abundant of all the dolphin species, and can be found in pods of up to 2 000. They are highly efficient at capturing small shoaling fish such as anchovies, pilchards and krill. Swimming at speeds of up to 60km/h they hunt down their prey and encircle them driving the shoal towards the surface and continuously tightening the circle around them.

And if you’re lucky, you get a shot like this…

Penguins and dolphins at St Croix

Port Elizabeth and Algoa Bay are promoted as the Bottlenose Dolphin capital of the world while St Croix Island has the biggest population of African Penguins in the world. I was lucky to get both species in one photo at St Croix on an outing with Raggy Charters a little while ago.

Bottlenose Capital of the World – It is estimated that a population of over 28 000 individual Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins make use of Algoa Bay and the surrounding ocean making it the biggest concentration of bottlenose dolphins in the world. The bottlenose dolphins occur in groups of between 10 and 400 individuals.

For more information – Bottlenose Dolphion Capital of the World

African Penguins – About 60% of the total global population of the endangered African Penguins live in Algoa Bay, 21 000 on St Croix, and 5 700 on Bird Island. Strange enough there isn’t a mainland population in the Eastern Cape and they only occur on the islands.

For more information – African Penguins

Sunrise over the Bay

Yesterday morning I was slightly earlier on my way to work than I have been because of levels 5 (work from home); 4 (still working from home); 3 (back at the office but in no rush to get up in the morning) and 3.86 (ii) section G, subsection purple with a tint of green, paragraph the doorbell is ringing but there is nobody there, line do they even know what’s going on, I think I’m hungry now, I don’t smoke but just give them their cigarettes. Oh and when can tourism establishments open, stop dragging your feet. But I’m digressing. Coming down La Roche in Humewood the sun was right in front (excuse the dirty window) and I just had to pull over in front of Bayworld to enjoy the moment.

I love the wide angle lens on my new phone. Makes for awesome photos. My thought was top try and get there before sunset this morning. I failed. Oh well, here is yesterday’s sunrise.

Kragga Kamma aloe fence

A drive up Kragga Kamma Road towards Colleen Glen may just give you a colourful surprise this time of year. I saw a photo of the stunning aloe fence on Kragga Kamma Road in full bloom on Facebook and just had to go and see it myself. The whole aloe fence is probably a good hundred meters in length and all of it is in flower at the moment, making for a stunning site and beautiful photo opportunity.

I’m not a flower expert so I went digging around the internet to find out what kind of aloe it is. My guess was a fence aloe, but it turned out to be Aloe arborescens.

According to Wikipedia, Aloe arborescens, the krantz aloe or candelabra aloe, is a species of flowering succulent perennial plant that belongs to the genus aloe, which it shares with the well known and studied Aloe vera. The specific epithetarborescens means “tree-like”. Aloe arborescens is valued by gardeners for its succulent green leaves, large vibrantly-colored flowers, winter blooming, and attraction for birds, bees, and butterflies.

I’ve got to say, one thing I have missed most because of lockdown is roadtrips through the Karoo and Gamtoos Valley to see the aloes in full bloom this time of year. At least you can still get a taste of it around Port Elizabeth.

What is the Sacramento cannon aiming at?

The name Sacramento is synonymous with Schoenmakerskop. There is the Sacramento Trail, the Sacramento cannon and the Sacramento Restaurant. But what is the Sacramento. She was a Portuguese galleon that aground just off Schoenmakerskop outside Port Elizabeth on 30 June 1647 in foul weather. By the time she hit the rocky coastline, she had a badly damaged rudder and her sails were in tatters. 72 of the crew made it ashore and set off towards Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), 1400km away.

The Sacramento was heavily loaded with a cargo of bronze cannons cast in Macao and destined for Portugal. The cannon lay undisturbed on the ocean bed for 330 years until 40 of them were salvaged in 1977.

One of the original Sacramento guns stand at the west side of Schoenmakerskop pointing in the direction of where she met her fate.

The Van Stadens Bridges

The Van Stadens River is about 35km west of Port Elizabeth and you can either go over or through it to get to the other side.

The river and original pass was named after one of the area’s pioneer farmers, Marthinus van Staden, who was the first person to plot a basic route through the Van Stadens River Gorge in the 1850’s.  In 1867 Thomas Bain was brought in by the Cape Government to rebuild the pass so that ox wagon traffic could safely travel through the pass.  In 1868, barely a year later, a massive flood washed away major sections of the pass and bridge, which resulted in a complete rebuild.  Over the next eighty years the pass saw regular improvements and widening and it was finally tarred between 1950 and 1953.  In 1971 the N2 bridge over the gorge was opened.  It took 4 years to complete (1967 – 1971) and is the 1st of 5 large concrete bridges along the N2.  The bridge is an arch bridge design with a height of 140 m and a span of 198.1 m.  The concrete remains of the original drift over the river can still be seen among the rocks and boulders.

Taking the old road through the pass may take a bit longer than flying along the N2, but its really worth the extra time, especially if you stop at the bottom by the old bridge.

Port Elizabeth has some blooming good hikes

Flowers along the Sacramento Trail between Schoenmakerskop and Sardinia Bay

It seems that it doesn’t matter where and what time of year you go for a hike along one of the trails around Port Elizabeth, there is always plants flowering. It’s one of the great things of especially fynbos which is found along a lot of the coastal trails around here. Something is always blooming, doesn’t matter the season. With level 3 lock down allowing hiking, there’s really no excuse not to get out over weekend to go and experience the beauty of our region, even if you just go and walk the first couple of hundred meters of the Sacramento Trail in Schoenmakerskop.