Port Elizabeth, Seaview Lion Park and Jeffrey’s Bay

July 1, 2010

The next morning was foggy and gray, the first ugly day we had in Cape Town and the day of our flight out to Port Elizabeth. Some of the flights were delayed due to the crazy thick fog, but we lucked out and left on time. The flight to PE was short, probably about 1 hour, and right along the coast. Dave and I landed and were welcomed with lovely weather once again, sunny skies and a nice coastal breeze. We got upgraded on our rental car which was a KIA Cerrato, apparently completely South African made, which was brand new and pretty nice. We drove down to the beachfront and checked into our guesthouse called “Margate Place,” right around the corner from the Uruguay team’s host hotel. We dropped our bags and headed out to a development called “The Boardwalk” which houses several restaurants, shops and a casino just across the street from the beach to get lunch and walk around. We ate at “Dulce Cafe” which was super tasty and highly recommended (the “tramezzinis” are great, similar to paninis on softer bread), before walking down to the beach. We took a nice stroll along the water and picked up a few crafts from the artisans displaying their work, then stopped at Barney’s – a beachfront pub – for a sundowner. We relaxed for a bit back at the guesthouse then headed to a place called “Primi Piatti” for dinner, a modern Italian chain eatery, where wecaught another match on TV and ate some great pasta (I had the linguine with curry-cream sauce, tasty and spicy).

Seaview Lion Park

Vervet Monkeys drinking at the watering hole

The next day, we drove about 30 minutes outside Port Elizabeth to Seaview Lion Park, a small reserve/park where they breed and sell lions, white lions and tigers to other game parks in South Africa. One of the big things I wanted to do on the trip was pet lion cubs, and here we could do that so I was pretty excited! We drove through the park and saw giraffes with little ones, zebras and Vervet monkeys – which were playing around and drinking from the watering hole. We parked our car in one of the designated areas and got out to view the lions in their large pens. We were able to get surprisingly close to them, provided there was an electric fence.

White Male Lion at Seaview Lion Park

Dave bent down to take a photo of one and apparently she thought he either wanted to play or she was hungry and she crouched down and pounced – lucky the fence was there! There were a few white/albino lions that were absolutely gorgeous, a few large males and a full grown tiger. It was sad to see them enclosed after being in Kruger and seeing them wild, so that was a downside.

We headed up to the main house where the cubs were housed and for only 50 Rand (about $7USD) we headed into their pen to pet and hang out with them. It was almost midday, so of course they were busy napping but petting them and scratching their ears and holding their paws was amazing. One of the little guys woke up and walked around a bit then took an interest in Dave’s jacket’s zipper and started chewing on it.

Little guy!

Loved this one

Tasty jacket!

We discovered that we could go in the pen with “the boys” – the male lions of about 13 months of age, which were huge. They were probably 2/3 of their full grown size, probably bigger than me, and napping as well. Preston, one of the boys, was awake and interested in us so we got to pet him and sit with him for a bit.

Preston and I

Dave bent down to pet one that was sleeping and he backed up into the electric fence – not a good idea: it gave him a 12,000 volt shock in the butt that he said he could feel in his toes. No wonder the lions don’t get close to it! The experience was incredible though, getting so close to such phenomenal and dangerous animals was exhilarating and I’ll never forget it. If you’re in the PE area, I recommend going to it as it’s inexpensive and allows you to get up close and personal with the lions. You can also pay a slightly larger fee to go in the tiger pen if interested.

Max, the feisty one

We headed back to PE to the park-n-ride for the Uruguay v. Korea second-round match. After lunch at “Cubana” on the water, a chain here in SA of cuban-inspired dishes, we hopped the bus to the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in downtown PE. The match was fun and the Korean fans were great, they were chanting and drumming and someone even had a gong. Uruguay edged them out so now Korea is done in the tournament. It started raining pretty heavily halfway through the game so we tried to get out as quickly as possible and back to the bus. Luckily, this park-n-ride had their stuff together and within 20 min we were back at our car and heading back to Barney’s to catch the USA v. Ghana second-round match. We shared a table with a brother and sister from San Francisco and the place filled up with both South African and USA supporters. Unfortunately we lost and USA’s tournament run was over. I’m happy for Ghana though, as they’re the only African country still in the WC. I’ll be rooting for them from home!

Jeffrey's Bay

Our last day in Port Elizabeth, we headed north to Jeffrey’s Bay, the infamous surf spot of the Eastern Cape. Unlucky for us, it was ridiculously windy and a little chilly so we didn’t get to see any surfing (we did encounter a few wind surfers taking advantage of the weather). We stopped in a few surf shops and had lunch on the water then headed towards St. Francis Bay, via dirt road that was way too long and muddy and gave the car a good workout and paint job. With not  much to see in St. Francis and the weather still holding strong, we headed back to PE to relax and enjoy our last night. We ate dinner at a place called 34 South in the Boardwalk and had a great seafood dinner and bottle of wine for less than $50. That is definitely one thing I’ve noticed here, that food has stayed pretty cheap even with the WC here (even at the stadiums the beers are about $4, not $8 like in the US).

J-Bay - not so great surf

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One Response to “Port Elizabeth, Seaview Lion Park and Jeffrey’s Bay”

  1. Amazing pics!! The lion cubs are so adorable!Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

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