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What You Need To Know

Port Elizabeth is a city on Algoa Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. A major port, it’s also known for its numerous beaches. The Donkin Heritage Trail takes in the Old Hill neighborhood’s Victorian landmarks. Coastal boat tours spot whales and rare seabirds, while wildlife reserves outside the metropolitan area are home to elephants, rhinos and other big game.

Province: Eastern Cape

Area: 251 km²

Population: 775,255( 1996)

Currency

  • South African money is called Rand. The exchange rate changes from day-to-day (sometimes it seems to be minute to minute).
  • Over the last 8 years the exchange rate has ranged from 6.5 to 13.5 Rand=1 dollar.  You can check the current the rate at http://www.exchange-rates.org/converter/USD/ZAR/
  • There are bills for 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Rand and coins for 1 Rand, 2 Rand, 5 Rand, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, and 5 cents.
  • It’s best and easiest to just bring a debit card and go to an ATM to get Rand once you arrive. Don’t worry about trying to get travellers’ checks or Rand ahead of time.
  • Find out from your bank if it is less expensive to withdraw larger amounts at one time and know what your daily limit is for withdrawals.
  • Don’t carry both your credit and debit cards with you at the same time.

Climate

“The Windy City” has a subtropical climate with light rain throughout the year. Port Elizabeth has an oceanic climate. The area lies between the winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate zones of the Western Cape and the summer rainfall regions of eastern South Africa. Winters are cool but mild and summers are warm but considerably less humid and hot than more northerly parts of South Africa’s east coast. The climate is very even throughout the year with extreme heat or moderate cold rare.

Security tips

Like most cities, Port Elizabeth suffers from a high crime rate. Tourists are not usually targeted, but can become victims of petty crime. It makes sense to take precautions to ensure that you do not identify yourself as an easy target. As is the case in any large city, do not walk around with expensive jewellery or carry valuables. Do not wander into quiet or dark areas on your own. For private excursions, it is best to go with a local or hire a tour guide from a travel operator or through your hotel.

Getting Around

  • Public bus: There is a public bus transport system within the city. For the world cup 2010, the system has gone a major renovation with new buses and you wait no longer than 15 minutes to get a bus. Schedules can be obtained online on schedules
  • Metered Taxi: King Cab, ☎ +27 (0)41 368-5559 (bookings@king-cab.com) and Hurter Cabs, ☎ +27 (0)41 585-5500 (hurter@absamail.co.za). Credit cards accepted.
  • Taxi: The main form of transportation for most people is the (minibus) taxi. Toyota Hiaces or VW Caravels or the like, modified to cram in as many seats as possible, will take you across town for approximately R7,00.