This charming town on the banks of the tidal Kowie River lies halfway between Port Elizabeth and East London, on the famous Sunshine Coast. Port Alfred was named after Queen Victoria’s second son. It dates back to the time of the 1820 Settlers and, until the 1880s, was a busy port for sailing ships. Miles of golden beaches, on which more than 1 700 different seashells have been identified and collected, endless water sport opportunities, a temperate climate and fascinating history have made Port Alfred a popular holiday destination.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: Various hiking trails and walks such as the Oribi, Tharfield, Three Sisters, Kowie and Albany Trails, are waiting to be explored.
Horse riding and mountain biking: Trails in the area are safe and offer a pleasant few hours of riding and biking.
Kowie Canoe Trail: This trail starts at Port Alfred and ends 20 km upstream at Horseshoe Bend in the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve. Canoes can be hired.
Water sport: Activities on the Kowie River and at the Royal Albert Marina include boating, fishing, canoeing, board-sailing, water-skiing and swimming, as well as diving among some of South Africa’s most colourful reefs.
Entertainment And Shopping
Fish River Sun Hotel, Casino and Country Club: This entertainment complex with its 24-hour slot-machine area, gambling tables, restaurants, golf course and children’s entertainment area, lies a short distance from Port Alfred on the N2.
Horseshoe Bend Lookout Point: Situated within the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve, the lookout point offers beautiful views of the valley below and of the Kowie River with its characteristic horseshoe loop. It is the ideal choice for a leisurely stroll in beautiful surroundings or a picnic in the heart of nature.
Port Alfred’s beaches: The beaches offer perfect conditions for sunbathing, swimming, shell-collecting, scuba-diving, surfing, long walks and surf-angling.
Royal Alfred Marina: The marina offers everything a prospective seafarer could want; cruises, deep-sea fishing charters and a fully-equipped diving school.
Fauna And Flora
Kowie Nature Reserve: This tiny, 200-ha reserve has the Kowie River as one of its boundaries and is linked to the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve. The dense vegetation offers protection to the rare cycads that grow here. The shy blue duiker and many species of birds have their homes in the reserve. The reserve can only be toured on foot on mapped-out hiking trails or by boat/canoe. There are facilities for picnics and braais (barbecues) on the banks of the Kowie River.
Waters Meeting Nature Reserve: Less than 20 km east of Port Alfred, the thick valley bushveld and open grasslands offer refuge to animals such as kudu and bushbuck as well as bush pig. Bird life is varied and includes raptors and waterfowl. The Kowie Canoe Trail, on the Kowie River, stops at Horseshoe Bend where there is a hut.
History And Architecture
Kowie Museum: The Kowie River Heritage Collection focuses on the social and cultural history of the area. The exhibits range from shipwreck artefacts to Xhosa crafts and articles of 1820-Settler history.
Railway Station: The station building was opened in 1884 and was briefly used as a pub and boarding house after the line was closed and before it was proclaimed a national monument in 1958.
Settlers Church: Many generations of Settlers rest in the graveyard of this church that has been declared a national monument.