The Donkin Reserve is truly one of the most iconic sites and sights in Port Elizabeth and has been named one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s Top 10 tourism icons. The pyramid (I bet you never knew that we have our own little one here in South Africa) was built as a monument to Lady Elizabeth Donkin, after whom the Friendly City was named, by her husband Sir Rufane Donkin, who was sent to Port Elizabeth to oversee the landing of the 1820 Settlers.
The lighthouse was originally built in 1861 and the first lighthouse keeper was Charles Hammond. The cottage next to the lighthouse was erected for Hammond’s family in 1865. Hammond must have enjoyed a lush green scenery from the top of the lighthouse. However, today the view of the city is quite different. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1973 as there were too many city lights interfering with its visibility.
If you look towards the sea you have a full view of the harbour and its activities that is always fascinating. On the day of our visit there was a huge car carrier busy loading vehicles. It looked like a giant ant trial as the cars were rolling onto deck and then suddenly my travel brain kicks in and I am wondering to what part of the world are they being shipped to. Shucks, it sucks to have a travel addiction!
As we circled the lighthouse tower we spent some time identifying all the beautiful historic buildings and churches of the older parts of the city. I then realised that I need to update my bucket list to include some more of these historic places.
The Donkin Reserve is quite popular with tourists and forms part of the wider Route 67 trail that criss-cross the city.
Today Hammond’s little cottage houses a visitor information centre operated by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. Pop in and the friendly ladies of The Bay will help you with information on what to see and do, whether it be a quick or extensive visit to area, they will know what you can attend, do and see.