The Garden Route of South Africa – Port Elizabeth

The Garden Route of South Africa – Port Elizabeth

Sardinia Bay Beach, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Sardinia Bay Beach

After a 9 hour flight with Latam Airlines from Sao Paulo, Brazil (only twice as long as the 40km journey to the airport in traffic!), a 5-hour layover in Johanessburg, and a quick 2-hour flight with Mango Airlines, we picked up our little rental car from Europcar at the Port Elizabeth Airport and set out on the 3-minute drive to our Airbnb for the next few days. Twenty dollars goes a long way in South Africa. A full apartment in a nice location just can’t be beaten for that price. Port Elizabeth was the starting point for our 8 day trip along the south coast of South Africa. This would include a trip to the famous Addo Elephant National Park. And on to our final destination of Capetown, where we would be spending my first warm Christmas and New Year.

Brad, our Airbnb host had some great tips for the area and also the rest of our trip. After a wonderful dinner at Bocadillos on 1st, we had a great night’s sleep after the long flight. The next day we headed out to Sardinia Bay, an amazingly beautiful beach. Here we found some of the coldest water you ever won’t swim in. But there are some awesome sand dunes to climb right behind. You don’t even need a cold beer in your hand to enjoy the beauty of this beach. Which is good because no drinking is allowed on South African beaches! Quite a shock to the system after coming from Mexico and Brazil beforehand!

Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Addo Elephant National Park

The next day we got an early start and headed out to Addo Elephant National Park to see guess what! After paying our $20 per person entry fee, we had the car searched for firearms and alcohol. Luckily we had neither! But it was quite a lengthy process that I would hate to see if the park was busy. Once inside we hit up the mini-mart for a few snacks to get us through the day, and we were ready to start the safari. 

 It took us over an hour to see our first big elephant. We weren’t sure our little rental car was going to win the battle with this guy. Luckily last minute he graciously stepped around us. Later in the day, once we reached some of the watering holes we would see up to 50 elephants at once. All of them playing and bathing in the murky water. This was quite an amazing sight, but still nothing like the first sighting. 

Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
nothing “butt” elephants

I thought we were going to see nothing “butt” elephants. But the park is home to much more and it was quite amazing to watch the zebra and warthogs also.

Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The park is also home to lions too, but we were not fortunate to see any that day. I tried baiting them by getting Vanessa to pose for photos outside of the car, but no joy!

Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Now you don’t cover many miles getting to Addo, or once inside. But not being able to leave the vehicle, except in designated peeing and picnic areas, it is quite an exhausting day, especially in our tiny rental car. The park stays open until 6 pm but by 4pm we had seen enough and decided to head home. But not before another search of the car again. They had to make sure we hadn’t killed and crammed an elephant in the trunk of our Ford Fiesta!

Safari tip – If traveling as a couple, to avoid divorce, always put the passenger in the back seat. This way you are not constantly fighting over window space when taking photos and videos!

Don’t forget to join us for the next part of our journey along the Garden Route

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