My experiences of travelling in Southern Africa 1995/96


In no way is this information an accurate and up to date guide. Please buy a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, for example, travel book for the countries you wish to visit.

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Port Elizabeth

After a long drive from Durban through the region of Transkei (Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei) we arrived in Port Elizabeth at three o'clock in the morning. Amazingly there was still somebody awake at the hostel we had chosen to stay in. Port Elizabeth (PE) until recently only had one hostel, the one we had chosen. I found out while I was in PE that there were three more in the city, it may well be the case that there are more now, as backpackers hostels have become a boom business in South Africa since the International sanctions were lifted in 1994.

Port Elizaneth Youth Hostel, 7 Prospect Hill

This hostel has a really good atmosphere and location, it is run by the lovely Martina who I later found out has a sister running a hostel in Cape Town. Port Elizabeth's centre tends to die at about ten o'clock each night, there are a few good bars around town and the only three nightclubs are all next door to each other on the sea front. I had arrived in PE four or five days before Christmas and subsequently this hostel had been fully booked in advance over Christmas Eve/Day for about a week. So this meant I could stay here for three days and then I had to find alternative accommodation, which I did just up the road at the Protea Lodge.

Protea Lodge, Prospect Hill

This place had only been open a couple of weeks when I stayed there so it was all very new with not many guests, i.e. no atmosphere. The rooms were mainly dormitory style as in all the hostels I stayed in, very clean with new bunk beds complete with duvets. Their prices were also slightly less than Martina's at Number 7.

Port Elizabeth like many South African towns and cities has it's architecture rooted in Victorian colonialism. It is a clean and tidy city with plenty of daytime attractions, it just suffers a bit at night. Here are some more photos from around PE:

View down Prospect Hill, Indian Ocean in the distance.

Port Elizabeth City Hall and the magnificent Public Library

I was in PE for six days before the Fourth Test Match which started on Boxing Day 1995. The match actually lasted five days which is a novelty for an England match but it was still a draw. This Test Match was the best I attended, not because of the quality of the cricket, which was rubbish but because of the atmosphere in the ground. This facet of the five days was generated by the resident brass band which played all day every day for the duration of the match.

After the sights and sounds of PE I travelled on an overnight coach to Cape Town arriving there early in the morning on New Years Eve.

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Last Updated on 24th April 1996 at 11:47:28

All images ©1995, 1996 Ian Simmins
© 1996 Ian Simmins