May 2022

  • The history of Bathurst’s Pig and Whistle Hotel
  • Discover Somerset East’s Glen Avon Waterfall
  • Learn more about Beervlei Dam near Willowmore
  • Animals of the Eastern Cape – The Flightless Dung Beetle
  • Crossing the Storms River Mouth suspension bridge

April 2022

  • The history of Hankey in the Gamtoos Valley
  • Visit the museums of Graaff Reinet
  • Learn more about Darlington Dam
  • Animals of the Eastern Cape – The Cape Ground Squirrel
  • Discover Takazi Waterfall on the Wild Coast
  • Video – Tour the Tsitsikamma forest on a Segway

March 2022

  • Slide down the Rabbit Hole near Middelburg with food out of this world
  • Marvel at Hogsback’s Madonna and Child Waterfall
  • Visit Port St Francis, home to the chokka industry
  • Learn about the Cape Morgan Lighthouse
  • Crossing the Buffalo River in East London
  • Video – Tsitsikamma, a world of diversity

February 2022

  • Meet Samara Private Game Reserve tracker Klippers Pietersen
  • The Dutch Reformed Church in Kareedouw
  • Jump into the river pool at Jan se Gat outside Jbay
  • Download the Amazing Addo wildlife checklist
  • Find the cathedral mice in Grahamstown
  • Video – Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Site

January 2022

  • Discover Eersterivier, the Tsitsikamma’s beach
  • Explore the dune fields along the Alexandria Hiking Trail
  • Climb up to Hankey’s Bergvenster
  • Learn more about the village of Rhodes
  • Did you know Hofmeyr had a pink church?
  • 10 Things to do in Coffee Bay
  • All the must see places on the Karoo Heartland Bucketlist
  • Video – Hike along to the Lower Van Stadens Dam

November 2021

  • Explore the Shell Museum in Jeffrey’s Bay
  • Marvel at the Tsitsikamma’s Big Tree
  • Learn more about the town of Alexandria on Route 72
  • Meet the Stone Folk of Nieu-Bethesda
  • Have you heard of the Martello Tower in Fort Beaufort?
  • SANParks announce the dates for this years SANParks Week
  • Discover the #AmazingAddo region with a Bucketlist
  • Video – Enjoy Nelson Mandela Bay’s brand new destination marketing video

October 2021

  • Discover the secret cove at Shelly Beach in Kenton
  • Walk the Waterfall Trail in the Tsitsikamma
  • Taste honey at Pabala in the Gamtoos Valley
  • A breakdown of all the Eastern Cape’s municipalities
  • Your own Addo Elephant National Park game viewing area road map
  • Learn more about the Wild Coast legend of Nongqawuse
  • Explore Makhanda and the Frontier Country with a Bucketlist
  • Video – The sights and sounds of the Karoo Heartland, the Eastern Cape’s big sky country.

September 2021

  • The oldest cake in South Africa is found in Graaff-Reinet
  • More information about Storms River Bridge
  • St Francis Bay’s Seal Point Lighthouse
  • The Diaz Cross at Kwaaihoek on Route 72
  • Learn more about the history of Hogsback
  • Wild Coast Bucket List to plan a visit to this stunning area
  • Video – Explore the Addo region with an #AmazingAddo destination video

August 2021

  • Hiking and cycling trails in the Tsitsikamma’s Plaatbos forest
  • Visit the Wild Coast to cross the Kei River by pont
  • Swing by Egg Rock outside Cradock
  • Enjoy the view from Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Lookout near Addo
  • Discover the Old Thomas River Historical Village between Stutterheim and Cathcart.
  • Tick off activities from the Route 72 Bucket List 
  • Video – Kouga Baviaans region

July 2021

  • The legend of Hole in the Wall on the Wild Coast
  • Bo fly fishing in the Karoo outside Somerset East
  • Hiking in the Kabeljous Nature Reserve outside Jbay
  • A little history on the Addo Elephant National Park that turned 90 this month
  • Info on the labyrinth in Hogsback
  • A travel Bucket List of the Tsitsikamma
  • Video – Route 72 on the Sunshine Coast

June 2021

  • The history of Storms River Village
  • Information on the Baviaanskloof
  • The historic Dutch Reformed Church in Nieu-Bethesda
  • Learn more about the Sundays River
  • A guide to hiking and the waterfalls in Hogsback
  • An infograph on the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve outside Port Alfred
  • Video – Wild Coast

May 2021

  • The history of the Van Stadens bridges
  • How water gets from Gariep Dam via the Karoo Heartland to Port Elizabeth
  • Comprehensive visitor’s guide to Bathurst
  • Meet the Big 7 with Addo Tourism
  • Video – Discover the Tsitsikamma

In the May 2022 issue of Firefly the Travel Guy’s Encounter our Eastern Cape Travel Letter

  • The history of Bathurst’s Pig and Whistle Hotel

  • Discover Somerset East’s Glen Avon Waterfall

  • Learn more about Beervlei Dam near Willowmore

  • Animals of the Eastern Cape – The Flightless Dung Beetle

  • Crossing the Storms River Mouth suspension bridge

If there is something that you would like to see featured in our monthly “travel letter” or have any suggestions, please drop us a mail at

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Bathurst’s Pig and Whistle Hotel

The oldest continuously licensed pub in the country

Pig and Whistle Hotel

More than 200 years ago more than 4000 British Settlers came to the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony for a new beginning. The village of Bathurst is what is known as a frontier town, established by these 1820 Settlers as they tried to find a place to eke out a living in the completely foreign territory of the Eastern Cape.

The Historic Pig and Whistle Inn was built by one such settler. Thomas Hartley put down roots in Bathurst where he built a forge and a house in the early 1820s. By 1832, he had also opened an inn, which he built next to his forge. Bathurst was well situated geographically as a waypoint for wagon travelers. There was a smithy, farrier, shops and, of course, the inn, then known as the Bathurst Inn.

The inn was highly regarded and, despite neighbouring a forge, the inn’s rooms were billed as “Subscription Rooms for Gentlemen”. High profile guests included Lord Charles Somerset, the Governor of the Cape, and Sir Benjamin D’Urban. Following Thomas Hartley’s death in 1840, his widow, Sarah, took over the inn. Her gift for hospitality allowed the inn to flourish, and it became the accommodation of choice for travelling dignitaries and government officials. In 1847 the Governor General of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Pottinger, stayed at the Inn where he was visited by the Chaplain, the Magistrate and the Post Commander. The following year the next Governor General, Sir Harry Smith, also stayed at Widow Hartley’s Inn (as it was then known).

Historic Bathurst painting

In 1849, the inn was painted in oils by famous English explorer and artist Thomas Baines. Sarah Hartley died later that year, leaving the inn she had made renowned in the colony to her son, Thomas Hartley Junior. In 1852 Jeremiah Goldswain bought the inn from Hartley Junior.

Pig and Whistle pub

The inn acquired its current name about 100 years later, when soldiers from the Royal Air Force were stationed at 42 Air School nearby. They decided to name their new pub after their local pub in England, thus the Bathurst Inn became the Pig and Whistle. Today it is not just seen as the oldest continuously licensed pub in the country, but also the oldest restaurant in South Africa.

The Historic Pig and Whistle website

Glen Avon Waterfall – Somerset East

Glen Avon waterfall at Somerset East

Somerset East lies below the Boschberg mountain which is anything but typical Karoo. The mountainside is covered in forest and even has a couple of waterfalls. One of these, hidden up a valley, is the Glen Avon Waterfall.

The waterfall, the scale of which is only appreciated from close up, is said to have one of the highest drops of water on private land.

Somerset East Waterfall at Glen Avon

Getting to the waterfall isn’t just a park and stroll. It’s at least a 10 km hike that takes you through indigenous forest into a riverine-forested valley where sneezewood and cabbage trees grow. The waterfall and the kloof have been declared the Glen Avon Falls Natural Heritage Site (No 71). Bird watchers could identify 235 species of birds, ranging from small sunbirds to birds of prey and an occasional sighting of the rare Cape Vulture. Large game includes kudu, bushbuck, duiker and mountain reedbuck. Day outings with a 4×4 can be arranged at an extra charge. A refreshing dip in the pool below the falls awaits you at your destination.

The pool at the bottom of Glen Avon Waterfall in Somerset East

The pool below the waterfall is also stocked with trout and Alan Hobson of Wild Fly Fishing in the Karoo offers guided fishing trips to this beautiful spot. Details in the link below.

As the waterfall is on private land, permission and a key is needed to visit.

Enquiries: Reg and Vivian Playdon
Tel: 042 243 3555
Mobile: 076 775 8124

Wild Fly Fishing in the Karoo

Beervlei Dam near Willowmore

The dam that was built to be empty

Beervlei Dam near Willowmore

Motorists traveling along the N9 from the interior via Graaff Reinet and Aberdeen towards Willowmore, would notice a huge empty dam on the right. It’s not empty because of a drought though. The Beervlei Dam is supposed to be empty. The dam was completed in 1957 as a flood control dam to help protect areas downstream on the Groot River when good rains do happen.

The Karoo sediments in the area contain a lot of salts and it has been found that lengthy storage of water results in high water salinity, so the dam doesn’t supply any town with water. Any flood water would be used as quickly as possible by the downstream irrigators and the reservoir is kept empty for extended periods.

The dam’s wall is 31 meters high and it has a capacity of 85,800,000 cubic meters with a surface area of over 23 square kilometers. After extensive rains in the Karoo in December 2021 and January 2022, the dam had water for the first time in 20 years, cause many to travel long distances to see this unique occurrence. Unique for a dam designed to operate at a 0% capacity.

Addo’s endangered Flightless Dung Beetle

Flightless Dung beetle

There are over 780 species of dung beetle in Southern Africa. The flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) is quite a rare specie and endemic to a few areas in Southern Africa with the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape having the biggest population. They are unique as they don’t have any wings and mostly feed on elephant or buffalo dung. This is also one of the reasons they are classified as vulnerable. When the elephants were shot out in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they couldn’t just take flight and look for alternative places where elephants were located.

As opposed to wings, flightless dung beetles have a tightly sealed elytra (wing case), which creates a convective cooling system where heat is drawn away from their body. Thus, they are perfectly suited to hot regions. The flightless dung beetle feeds on elephant, buffalo as well as rhino dung. The dung serves many purposes for these beetles which include a source of nourishment, an ideal den for breeding, and a gift to lure in a female.

Storms River Mouth suspension bridges

Storms River suspension bridges

One of the most iconic attractions on the Garden Route is the suspension bridge over the Storms River mouth. The 77 meter long bridge was originally built in 1969 and hangs just seven meters above the dark waters of river as it enters the Indian Ocean. Two additional bridges were added in 2006.

Storms River mouth suspension bridge

The trail leading to the river mouth and suspension bridge covers 900 meters through the Tsitsikamma forest. There are plenty of steps to negotiate, but it remains a fairly easy route and done by the majority of visitors to the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park.

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