Encounter the Eastern Cape Travel Mailer – April 2023


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

  • Learn about the Bible Monument in Grahamstown

  • Explore the Langkloof

  • Go for a walk on the NMU Campus’ Grysbok Reserve in PE

  • Meet Sylvester the Lion at Kuzuko Lodge

  • Look up at the whale skeleton in Bayworld

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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Grahamstown’s Bible Monument

Grahamstown Bible Monument

Grahamstown has some very well known monuments and historic buildings. The 1820 Settlers Monument on the hill, the Cathedral of St Michael and St George, the Angel Statue, Observatory Museum with it’s camera obscura and many more. One most people don’t know about is the Bible Monument on the outskirts of town.

The story of the monument is one of Brits and Boers coming together at this spot. In April 1837, a Voortrekker party led by Jakobus Uys was encamped just outside Grahamstown on their way into the interior. At this spot they were met by a group of British settlers from the town who presented them with a Dutch bible. The monument represents an oversized open bible and is said to face in the direction which the Voortrekkers departed. The monument itself was unveiled by the State President C R Swart on 17 December 1962. The bible is now kept at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.

Read more about the history linked to the Bible Monument

The Langkloof

The Langkloof

The Langkloof stretches for some 160 kilometers between the Tsitsikamma and Kouga mountains in an east-west direction.  The valley has a number of small towns that include (from east to west) Kareedouw, Joubertina, Krakeel, Louterwater, Misgund, Haarlem and Avontuur along the R62 road. The area is ideal for growing fruit, particularly apples and pears, and was the main reason the Apple Express narrow guage line was built in 1906.

The kloof was given its name by Isaq Schrijver in 1689, and more thoroughly explored by a later expedition under ensign August Frederik Beutler in 1752. The valley has been farmed since 1760 and developed into an important fruit-growing region during the 1900s.

Every one of the towns originally clustered around a railway station, a series of houses, a church and a school that evolved from the initial introduction of farmers to the valley during the late 18th century. Today the towns are much the same, some of them larger, others virtually as they were when they appeared in amongst the incredible mountains that surround the valley.

Follow Langkloof Tourism on Facebook

The Grysbok Reserve on the Nelson Mandela University Campus

The Grysbok Reserve on the NMU campus

The Nelson Mandela University campus was declared a Private Nature Reserve in 1983. The campus covers 830 ha, and is dominated by the St Francis Dune Thicket vegetation community, which is characterised by clumps of thicket occurring within a matrix of Dune Fynbos.

This fynbos vegetation is highly threatened due to agricultural clearing and coastal development, and the Nelson Mandela University Nature Reserve makes a significant contribution towards its conservation. Of the 17 500 ha of this vegetation still in existence, only 1 500 ha are conserved, and the reserve accounts for 48% of this total. Despite some problems with invasive Australian Acacias the vegetation is in very good condition.

The Grysbok Trail was established in 1995 and is designed to act as an environmental education and recreation resource for the University, and the broader community. The trail meanders through the reserve, providing opportunities for observing the exciting fauna, including a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and flora of the area.

There are two trail options that can be walked, a 4.8 km or a 2.5 km loop. Both trails cover relatively flat terrain and are suitable for moderately fit people. Visitors are welcome to walk this trail privately, but please note that for safety purposes you need to sign the Visitors’ Book at the fence stile at the start of the trail.

Grysbok Nature Reserve

Sylvester the Lion

Sylvester the lion

Sylvester the lion is probably the most famous lion in South Africa. The story begins during the night of the 4th June 2015 when a 3-year-old lion escaped from the Karoo National Park, triggering a long and arduous chase lasting 24 days. This event had the nation watching and waiting with bated breath and saw the start of a wild goose chase involving many devoted individuals, sniffer dogs and even a couple of helicopters and a microlight.

Sylvester continued to have problems with the other male lions at the park and was moved to Kuzuko Lodge bordering the Addo Elephant National Park in May 2016. He had no trouble making friends and finding love. He quickly bonded with two lionesses in the reserve and formed a coalition with a younger male lion named Fielies. He grew especially close to his favourite lioness, Angel, and in June 2018 she gave birth to two cubs.

Read about Sylvester’s story

The PE Museum Whale Skeleton

PE Museum Whale Skeleton

The Port Elizabeth Museum, which blends cultural with natural history, is the third oldest in South Africa and is the parent unit of Bayworld. The Marine Hall features a number of marine invertebrate groups and various types of fish. A southern right whale skeleton, suspended from the ceiling, dominates the hall. This was one of the last whales to be harpooned in Algoa Bay in 1902. Other interesting features are the coelacanth and shark models displayed in the Sharks – Magnificent and Misunderstood exhibit.  Some of the earlier models of fishes were carved from wood and painted. The more recent models are fiberglass casts.

Learn more about Bayword
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