This post was originally from March 7, 2020
The last few days have been jam packed with activities. It’s crazy how you can have so many amazing experiences all within the span of just 48 hours.
Thursday morning we booked a boat tour in Algoa Bay to the island of St Croix to see the penguins. It was refreshing to actually be out at sea. You can see the ocean from our balcony but because of safety concerns we haven’t been able to spend any time by the ocean. The tour was so great. We sat at the front of the boat where we had incredible views of the wildlife around us. Our first stop was the island of St Croix. From the boat we could see tons of African Penguins perched on the edge of the rocks as well as jumping into the ocean. The area is protected so only certain boats are allowed to go near this island.
From there we located several pods of dolphins all swimming together. There were so many that you couldn’t keep count. The skipper told us he estimated that we saw about 150-200 dolphins!!!!! It turns out there was a lot of love in the air as so many were busy doing the ‘nasty’. I even got a show and saw what a male appendage looks like (very pink). The skipper told us to be prepared for a show because often once a male has ‘finished’ with his lady he will then dance across the water with his body fully out of the water just to show off. Our dolphins didn’t disappoint as we got our own personal dolphin show!
What is so amazing about this tour company is that they work hand in hand with Bay Watch – a conservation organization (not the David Hasselhoff show). Not only do they do so much for the wildlife, but they have a program where they partner with an organization that places people from townships who want to pursue a career in eco-tourism and conservation. It is another example of empowering and uplifting those who in most cases don’t have the opportunity to flourish.
As Thursday afternoon was our last day at placement, we had the entire day on Friday to be a tourist. For the first half of the day we went to Kragga Kamma National Park for a game drive. It is a small game reserve but also incredibly cheap. For 2 hours on a utility vehicle with a guide it only cost $30! They don’t have the big 5, but the experience was still so amazing. We were able to see ostrich, buffalo, giraffe, rhino (with a baby), as well as many other beautiful animals really, really close. At one point Chuck Norris (the big male rhino) walked towards our vehicle straight on. He seemed a bit intimidating and our ranger was calling out to him ‘no Chuck, no’! Chuck stopped dead in his tracks and just stared at us. Because of how small the park is, they can identify most of the animals (which is how they can name most the major ‘big guys’). They also have a few rescued cats who like Born Free have come into their care from situations of abuse. Three lionesses came from a circus in Ukraine and as well as a bunch of cheetahs from similar situations. Like Born Free, because they were never taught how to survive in the wild, they can’t be released.
We certainly got spoiled by going to Shamwari first, as the thrill of finding the wildlife in absolute remote areas was just not the case in Kragga. Nonetheless it was still an experience to remember.
Later in the day we were taken to the most beautiful place along the coast with a bunch of the youngsters from our frat house. The husband and wife couple (Jeff & Arlene) who run the house have been spectacular and go above and beyond to make us feel at home, as well as show us the beauty around Port Elizabeth. It turns out that the wife of the duo actually went to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, competing for Zimbabwe in field hockey. The African underdogs came away with the gold medal! So cool!
Anyway, we went for the most breathtaking hike along the coast called the Sacramento Trail. It was about 4 km and ended at the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay. The sand dunes were massive and it made for the most beautiful backdrop against the ocean. As Port Elizabeth is known as ‘the windy city’, Sardinia Bay was no exception. By the time we watched the sun set, I had heaps of sand in every orifice! Not only was the place picture perfect, but I got a nice natural exfoliation too!
Today it was time to pack our things and move on to the next leg of our trip. It was bitter sweet leaving, as the frat house has really grown on us. Most of the kids are pretty amazing and it’s only now that we’ve started to create bonds. There were a few tears saying goodbye and it was so cute as the entire house stood on the balcony to wave goodbye to us.
I leave Port Elizabeth almost completely unscathed. The only mishap I stumbled upon was getting stung by at wasp or bee. Not sure as they look very different from home. (Note to self-don’t stick your hand in the pool when a wasp is resting on it!) I had a few days of having a sore, swollen and itchy hand but now I’ll start our tour feeling as good as new!