Encounter the Eastern Cape Travel Mailer – June 2023


Welcome to the June 2023 issue of Firefly the Travel Guy’s Encounter the Eastern Cape Travel Mailer. This month we look at the following:

  • Walk the Goesa Trail in Storms River

  • Enjoy the view at the Valley of Desolation

  • Who was Sarah Baartman?

  • Discover a Oceanos Lifeboat at Schoenmakerskop in Port Elizabeth

If there is something that you would like to see featured in our monthly travel mailer or have any suggestions, please drop us a mail at jonker@fireflyafrica.co.za

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The Goesa Trail in Storms River

Goesa Trail, Storms River, Tsitsikamma

Looking for a quick and easy trails to do early morning or late afternoon while staying in Storms River Village? The Goesa Trail is the perfect option. The starting point of this short 2km walk is by the SANParks office on the edge of the village and it traverses through the indigenous forest. The trail descends to a stream bordered by towering trees and giant tree ferns, before ascending back to the start point on a circular route. Sections are along a wooden boardwalk.

Goesa Trail map
More things to see and do in the Tsitsikamma

Valley of Desolation

Valley of Desolation

Graaff-Reinet is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and is very unique as it is surrounded by the 19 400 hectare Camdeboo National Park. Included in the park is probably one of South Africa’s best known natural attractions, the Valley of Desolation.

Located about 15km from town, the Valley of Desolation is a product of volcanic and erosive forces of nature taking place over a 100 million years. The Dolerite columns rise up to 120 meters from the valley floor and in the distance the plains of the Camdeboo and its Karoo landscape stretches to the horizon. Visitors can enjoy the view from the various view sites and can also follow the 1.5km Crag Lizard Trail for more magnificent views. Best time to visit? Late afternoon to enjoy a magnificent Karoo sunset

Camdeboo National Park

Sarah Baartman

Sarah Baartman grave, Hankey

Who is Sarah Baartman?

In 1810, when Sarah Baartman was in her early twenties, she was persuaded by an English ship’s doctor, Alexander Dunlop, to travel to England to make her fortune. However, as a Khoikhoi woman she was considered an anthropological freak in England, and she found herself put on exhibition, displayed as a sexual curiosity. Dubbed The Hottentot Venus, her image swept through British popular culture.

She was taken to Paris in 1814 and sold to Jean Riaux who continued to exhibited her as a freak. She became the object of scientific and medical research that formed the bedrock of European ideas about black female sexuality. When she died on 29 December 1815 around age 26, of an undetermined inflammatory ailment, possibly smallpox. A deathcast of her body was made, he skeleton removed and her brain and genitals were preserved in jars. These were displayed in the Musée de l’Homme, until the mid 1970s.

After five years of negotiating with the French authorities for the return of Sarah Baartman’s remains, the South African government, together with the Griqua National Council brought Sarah Baartman back to South Africa. She was buried on 9 August 2002 on Vergaderingskop, a hill in the town of Hankey in the Gamtoos Valley where she was born over 200 years before.

Her grave is to become part of the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance being constructed.

Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman
Read about Sarah Baartman

Oceanos Lifeboat in Schoenmakerskop

Oceanos lifeboat on the Schoenmakerskop coastline

4 August 1991 was a dramatic and fateful day on the Eastern Cape coastline with the sinking of the MTS Oceanos on the Wild Coast close to Coffee Bay, east of East London. She was on her way from East London to Durban and sprung a leak in the engine room after an explosion.

What does this have to do with Port Elizabeth?  After all 571 passengers on board was rescued, some of the lifeboats floated south-west along the ocean currents with one of them washing up on the coastline at Schoenmakerskop outside Port Elizabeth.  It landed up on the rocks in a marshy area on the eastern side of the village and has become fairly overgrown over the years.

Oceanos lifeboat at Schoenmakerskop
Oceanos Lifeboat in Schoenies

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