Wildlife & Nature
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Wildlife & Nature
From rocky shores to indigenous floral fynbos: from stretches of golden beaches and unspoilt sand-dunes to lush indigenous forest and untamed wilderness areas, the nature reserves within, and on the outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay offer a wonderful range of options to the great outdoors. Located in and around the city are: Settler's Park, Van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve, The Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Maitlands Nature Reserve, The Island Nature Reserve, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and Groendal Wilderness Area.
Game viewing in Nelson Mandela Bay is an activity everyone should enjoy. The numerous game reserves in and around the city offer the perfect mix of fauna and flora. These splendid, sometimes untouched areas are developing into some of South Africa's main game viewing destinations.
The Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed in 1931 to save the Eastern Cape Elephant and Cape Buffalo from extinction. It is now home to over 450 elephant, and offers an unbeatable opportunity to view these fascinating giants of the African bush. The Big 7 which comprises the elephants, Cape buffalo, leopard, black rhino, lions, and great white shark and seasonal southern right whale, can be viewed at the Addo Elephant National Park. The Addo bush also offers sanctuary to a myriad of birds, the black rhino, numerous buck species as well as the unique flightless dung beetle. The park is situated 72km north of Nelson Mandela Bay near the Zuurberg Mountain Range and offers guided or self-drive options and accommodation.
Game viewing experiences can be enjoyed on many of the private game lodges in the area. This provides the visitor a close-up encounter with the animals. Game drives in open vehicles are very popular for game viewing but guided walk are also available. The lodges offer accommodation ranging from cost effective to luxurious 5-star accommodation in a malaria free environment.
Step out of the city and do game viewing from the comfort of your car right on the city's doorstep and spot rhino, buffalo, giraffe, cheetah, zebra and many other small game species at Kragga Kamma Game Park. Admire the white lions at Seaview Predator Park while also having the opportunity to see other predators such as the Tiger and Black Panther.
The “gentle giants of the ocean” are a familiar site in Algoa Bay. Pods of dolphins and whales can be seen making their way along the coast all year round. The Southern Right Whale is a spectacular sight to see especially during mating season, between July and October. Calm conditions and warm water make the Bay the perfect nursery for caving and feeding of the young. Humpback whales can be seen when they pass through during June and July and again in November and December. Bryde’s whales, Bottlenose dolphins, Cape Fur seals, gannets and cormorants can be spotted throughout the year.
The Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch area is well known for its abundant bird life. Settler’s Park, Cape Recife Nature Reserve and the Zwartkops estuary are among the best locations for bird-watching. The Cape Recife Nature Reserve with its unique bird-hide and the Zwartkops Estuary which boasts groups of flamingos wading in the salt-pans are frequently visited by avid bird lovers. In addition Happy Valley, Quarryman Park, Willow Dam and Groendal Wilderness Area in Uitenhage, are also proclaimed for their wide variety of bird species.
Take a boat trip to explore the abundunce of wildlife the Indian Ocean has to offer out to St Croix Island and to see the largest breeding colony of African penguins as part of the Penguin Patrol. The experience includes a visit to SAMREC to see how the penguins are rehabilitated and visitors can experience the hospital and see the volunteers in action helping to save our environment, in particular the endangered penguin. The last stop of the Penguin Patrol is at the Bayworld Museum, Snake Park and Oceanarium. Guests will get to see both the seal and penguin presentations where they will learn about each species and about the individual animals.
Three river mouths are within easy reach from the Bay; the Sundays River mouth, home to the highest dunes south of the Namib Desert and the Alexandria Dune Fields; the Maitland River mouth, located at the foot of the famous Maitland dune "mountain"; and the Van Stadens River mouth which is near the longest concrete arch bridge in Southern Africa. River Ferry Cruises are available at the Sundays River from where you can explore the dunes.
Not only is the Eastern Cape developing into a major destination for wildlife and nature lovers but it is also the meeting ground of six major converging biomes. The area boasts a treasure chest of picturesque landscapes, near pristine natural areas and a rich diversity of vegetation. As a result, the region is fast developing a reputation as South Africa's favourite eco-destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers - in a malaria free environment.
The biomes found in the area are:
The Savannah Biome, which includes the valley bushveld flora of the summer rainfall area,
The Fynbos Biome characterised by a winter rainfall,
The Grassland Biome, which includes Flora of higher altitudes,
The Succulent-Karoo Biome with its Flora flourishing under arid and semi-arid conditions,
The Thornfelt-Karoo Biome and the Indigenous Forest Biome.