48 HOURS IN GREATER ADDO

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Friday, 27th July 2018

Images by Anje Rautenbach

You don’t have to spend hours on the road to have an adventure, you don’t have to go to faraway place to have a different experience and you don’t have to fill up tank after tank for an epic road trip; sometimes the places closest to us still undiscovered.

So why not head to the Greater Addo region for a weekend?

It’s close by, there is a variety of accommodation options, great restaurants and loads to do. And, if you don’t want to stay over, you can fill a day to the brim with activities and admire the beautiful scenery stretching from the dunes at Colchester to the mountains of Zuurberg, the wildlife of Addo and the citrus orchards of the Sundays River Valley.

Breakfast in Kirkwood

From Port Elizabeth, make your way towards Uitenhage and get on the R75 for an early morning breakfast and coffee stop in Kirkwood. Find a spot in the garden of Kronenhoff Guest House or inside the historic Cape Dutch house. 

Take the clubs

Fancy a game of golf? The Kirkwood Golf course has 9 holes with an average of 72. There’s also a bar serving refreshments.

Opt for a 4x4 adventure weekend

Head towards the mountains if you feel that it’s time to engage your low range. If you’re up for a 4x4 adventure enter the gates of Addo Elephant National Park’s Kabouga section. The 45 km route can take up to 6 hours to complete and is rich in history with small game and rock art paintings scattered throughout the area; there are camp sites (Mbuvu) as well as a cottage sleeping six.  When you end at Darlington Lake, take the R400 towards Uitenhage/Jansenville or go the other way to either visit Addo Elephant National Park or tackle the Zuurberg Pass.

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For the thrill of it

Take the R336 out of Kirkwood (towards Addo) and let a scream out on the longest, highest and fastest double zipline in Africa at Adrenalin Addo; 500 metres long, 70 metres high and a speed of up to 80km/h. But wait, there’s more! You can also become a human slingshot in their giant swing and, if you’re living by the eerder-bang-Jan-as-dooie-Jan principle, you can gently paddle down the Sundays River on a canoe.  There’s a restaurant on site serving drinks and snacks, bigger groups can be catered for.

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A Quad-biking Adventure

If you’re up for another adventure why not hop on a quad bike? The Criss Cross Adventures’ excursion take you on a journey off the beaten track; during the 90 minute activity you’ll travel along a scenic route, through citrus orchards with a few fun twists and turns. Criss Cross Adventures also offers a guided Addo River Safari in a custom designed, comfortable and safe canoe and there’s an opportunity to try your hand at fresh and still water fishing.

Head to Zuurberg

Prepare to be wowed by the wrinkles and folds of the Zuurberg Mountains when you take the R335, sedan-friendly dirt road, towards the Zuurberg Mountain Village. Here, mountain vistas are just waiting to be savoured from the stoep of the 150-year-old manor house;  you can wine in the Woodifield Bar, one of the few remaining genuine English pubs in South Africa, and dine, as you sit down for a legendary Sunday meal, or find an alfresco menu on other days in the hotel’s main dining area. Of course there’s more than just food; tie your boots’ laces in double knots and get up close and personal with nature on an 8 km circular hiking trail, take binoculars for birdwatching, bring your mountain bike or experience the area on one of the guided horse riding trails. Overnight visitors to area have the option of staying in the Zuurberg Mountain Village’s manor suites or in the Edwardian cottages, and a few kilometres down the road there’s the luxurious Camp Figtree as well.

Take on the Zuurberg Pass and travel to Ann’s Villa (4x4s only)

Even though the Zuurberg Mountains were described as “almost impassable”, a pass was built in 1848 and today it’s known as the  Zuurberg Pass, one of South Africa’s longest passes at 17.5 km that navigates through all four tiers of the dominant Zuurberg Mountain range.  There will be views, there will be fynbos, there will be hairpin bends, loose rocks, a few bumps and an elevation summit of 888 metres.

At the foot of the pass you’ll find Ann’s Villa which was built in 1864. With the growth of the traffic over the pass it first served as a hotel and during the diamond rush, when fortune hunters flocked to the interior of South Africa, it also offered food, had a bakery, a blacksmith, a wagon repair shop and a wholesale and retail shop. Today, visitors can get a glimpse into the past by visiting the blacksmith museum, the old shop or, if you dare and don’t get spooked easily, stay over for a night or two.  Ann’s Villa can also be reached from the N10’s side if you’re not up for the Zuurberg Pass.

Go visit Sylvester the Lion

After Sylvester the lion became South Africa’s most famous escapee, he found a home (and a friend and some girlfriends) in the Eastern Cape at Kuzuko Lodge, just 35 km from Ann’s Villa.  Kuzuko Lodge is a five-star, family-friendly bush lodge, situated atop a hill and comes with nature’s promise of peace and quiet with the added bonus of the big five.  There are various walks within the reserve, such as a bushman paintings exploration, a game walk and a plant-and-gogga walk for the kids, as well as guided game drives, a wellness centre and a restaurant and bar.

Head to Addo Elephant National Park

Spend some time with the hundreds of Addo elephants and the other four of the big five, smaller game and the flightless dung beetles, in Addo Elephant National Park. You can easily enter the park’s main gate, situated on the R336, from Kirkwood’s side or from Ann’s Villa. There are two daily guided game drives available, you can self-drive or opt for a hop-on guide who’ll get in your vehicle and share his knowledge while you drive. At the main camp there is a shop, a restaurant, an information and educational centre, a braai area for day visitors and a variety of different accommodation. 

Stop for a picnic

Have a picnic (or a braai) in the middle of the game viewing area in the fenced off Jack’s Picnic. There are also bathroom facilities available at the picnic site.

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End your weekend on the Sundays River

If you exit Addo Elephant National Park via the Matyholweni Gate, Port Elizabeth and the Sundays River are just a stone’s throw away from you so why not end your weekend with one last activity before you head home? The Sundays River snakes its way through massive sand dunes and is home to an estuary for the birdwatchers, boat tours as well as the opportunity to test your balance as you go sandboarding or sand sledding.

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One more coffee

Say goodbye to the Greater Addo region with one more coffee at A Taste of Africa, situated in Colchester and start planning your next Eastern Cape road trip.

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