Port Elizabeth

Known affectionately across the country as “The Friendly City” or “The Windy City”, Port Elizabeth is one of the oldest cities in South Africa and boasts a rich tapestry of historical events. Nestled on the south eastern coast of South Africa and forming part of Algoa Bay, passengers participating in a train tour of South Africa will find Port Elizabeth to be a captivating hot spot.

The area of Algoa Bay has been occupied by a number of groups spanning centuries; it is estimated that over 100 000 years ago, ancestors of the San occupied the area. Since then, the fresh water area transformed into a hub of activity, attracting a kaleidoscope of cultures, from Portuguese explorers to British settlers. The name “Algoa” means “To Goa”; “Goa” being a Portuguese colony located in India. On account of convenience, the coastal area of South Africa served as a stop-off point for Portuguese traders who were en route to Goa to gather energy and replenish their supplies.

Despite the Portuguese and the Dutch being the first Europeans to visit the area, the city of Port Elizabeth was largely built by British settlers when they landed at Algoa Bay. The life span of this picturesque city has been turbulent, often playing a significant transit point for conflict. The Fort Frederick monument attests to this and looms large in the city of Port Elizabeth today. This stone fort was built in 1799 during the Napoleonic era as a means for British troops to protect themselves against the threat of landing French troops.

The city itself is named after the wife of a British settler, Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin, who was the Acting Governor of the Cape Colony and the founder of the seaport city. At present, Port Elizabeth is steadily growing into a bustling metropolis without losing its cosy small-town feel. The Friendly City is just one of the fantastic stops commuters on board the Rovos Rail luxury train travel to.