Encounter our Eastern Cape Info Letter – March 2023


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

  • Learn about the Cape Hermes Lighthouse in Port St Johns

  • Learn more about Steytlerville’s Family Crest Project

  • Cross over the Bloukrans River Bridge in the Tsitsikamma

  • The beautiful beaches of Port Alfred

  • Nieu-Bethesda is open for business during the road works

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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Cape Hermes Lighthouse
Port St Johns

Cape Hermes Lighthouse in Port St Johns

It’s hard to believe that there is a lighthouse located omn the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast that is only 13 meters high. That is the case though with the Cape Hermes Lighthouse in Port St Johns. Back in the 1890s through until 1903, the Cape Hermes Lighthouse was little more than a ship’s masthead light, hanging outside the signal station. In1903 the octagonal stone tower was built using granite rocks quarried from nearby and constructed under the direction of the highly respected Lighthouse Engineer, H.C. Cooper, who also designed Cooper Light in Durban and Cape Byron Light in Australia. The lighthouse was named after the ship HMS Hermes, which undertook national surveys of the Pondoland coastal waters.

Cape Hermes Lighthouse
More info about Port St Johns

Steytlerville Family Crests

Family crests down Piet Retief Street in Steytlerville

As you enter the town of Steytlerville you will witness family crests all along the centre isle of Piet Retief Street ahead of you.

In 2003 flags were erected on the main street depicting the Family Crests of Steytlerville families and encompassing crests from all communities. As it was mostly the White community that had family crests, the African and Coloured communities without traditional crests were encouraged to design their own to identify their unique family clans. Some of these family crests incorporate baking tins, cotton reels, rugby and soccer balls, sheep-shearing shears, shopping baskets and grapes.

Steytlerville is the only town in South Africa to document and publicly pay homage to family names.

Learn more about what to do in Steytlerville & Willowmore

The Tsitsikamma’s Strip Tease Trail

Bloukrans River Bridge in the Tsitsikamma

The Bloukrans Bridge in the Tsitsikamma is famous as being the site of the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump, operated by Face Adrenalin since 1997.

Construction started on the Bloukrans Bridge in February 1980, running through to its completion in June 1983. This bridge, along with its smaller siblings, the Groot and Bobbejaans River Bridges, as well as the Storms River and Van Stadens River Bridges, cut considerable time off the journey between Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth, by eliminating the need to travel down the winding pass roads through these gorges.

Constructed by Murray and Roberts and Concor, the bridge stands at a height of 216m above the Bloukrans River, making it the highest bridge in Africa. Its central span is 272m and the bridge is 451m in length in total. The gorge itself forms the border between the Western and Eastern Cape.

Bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge

Port Alfred’s beaches

Aerial photo of Port Alfred

The Sunshine Coast town of Port Alfred along Route 72 has some beautiful beaches.

East Beach: A popular family and dog friendly beach, East Beach is a sought after surfing hot spot, the site of international surfing competitions and the legendary Shaka Surf School. Long stretch of beach, excellent for walking, interesting rock pools, and popular with dog walkers and fishermen. The spectacular sand dunes are excellent for dune boarding.

West Beach: West beach is a great family hang out spot, with a few eateries overlooking the Indian Ocean and Kowie River. It is the preferred body boarding championship beach, with good left and right breaks. West beach is great for tanning and sand castle building, however, not recommended as a swimming beach due to the strong rip tides.

Kellys Beach: has won various awards over the years and is recognised by international standards as a beach that offers excellent value to visitors. Factors such as safety, cleanliness, ablution facilities and lifeguard services are some of the factors considered when awarding Blue Flag status. The 400m-long beach offers ample space for beach activities and sun-seekers. Interesting rock pools to the west of Kellys keep young children occupied for hours. Surfing is a popular activity, with beach breaks that offer both right and left-hand waves.

Shelly Beach: A picturesque and small bay ideal for shell collecting and interesting rock pools – this little beach is popular with families and small children and stretches all the way to Flame Lilly beach with its natural tidal pool.

What to do and where to stay in Port Alfred

Nieu-Bethesda is Open for Business during the ongoing roadworks

Good news for travelers to Nieu-Bethesda. A section of the gravel road leading to the town is being tarred for your convenience. However, please be advised that as a result of the roadworks, one of the entrances to Nieu-Bethesda will be temporarily closed.

The closure will be in effect from Monday, 27 February 2023 at 07:00 to Friday 12 May 2023 at 17:00.

The upper section of MR00605 will be open for traffic as a detour.

This is a 31km gravel road off the N9 en route to Graaff-Reinet, JHB or CT. It will be regularly maintained to improve the level of service throughout this period. Emergency and support vehicles are also to use this road. It is in a good condition and suitable for normal vehicles.

Nieu-Bethesda Tourism apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and ask that you plan accordingly. They advise adding an additional 30 minutes of travelling time when making use of the detour. The local Municipality will be providing signage to direct traffic to the alternate entrance during this time. Please note that there is limited cell phone reception on the alternative route.

It’s important to remember: ALL BUSINESSES in Nieu-Bethesda are still OPEN during their regular operating hours despite the temporary road closure.

Read the Nieu-Bethesda Tourism newsletter for March
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