Tranquil village offers peace – or wild dune rides

Lee-Anne Butler

FOR those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city living this festive season without having to travel too far, the tranquil and safe village of Cannonville offers the Addo Gateway Lodge, situated only 35km outside Port Elizabeth.

This three star-rated bed and breakfast accommodation establishment with a self-catering option is located next to the beautiful Sundays River estuary, offering a range of activities for the entire family.

The rooms are comfortable and decorated in neutral colours.

Lodge owner Maggie Mann named her establishment the Addo Gateway Lodge because it is very close (about 3km) to the new south entrance of the Addo Elephant National Park.

“Since the park was extended, all the animals, including the elephants, lions and zebra now roam the park freely and are regularly spotted in the southern section closest to our entrance. We feel very privileged to be so close to them,” she said.

Mann and partner Les Kingma have owned the lodge since 2006, and as both are friendly and accommodating hosts, it is not hard to see why the establishment has grown from strength to strength.

“The peace and quiet is the best part of all. This village is so safe that the police officers at the Kinkelbos Police Station have nothing to do but patrol up and down all day,” said Mann.

In her homely decorated kitchen, Mann prepares continental breakfasts – including fresh fruit, yoghurt, pancakes and muffins – every day, but English breakfasts are available on request.

Rooms are also available as a self-catering option and a restaurant is located within walking distance in the same road.

The lodge comprises a two-bedroom cottage and a fully wheelchair accessible double room for the physically disabled.

Because of its location between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown and next to the Sundays River, the lodge offers visitors a range of activities, including swimming, fishing, canoeing, braaiing, jet skiing, water skiing and boating in the river.

Bicycles can also be hired at a minimal fee for a pleasant ride through the peaceful village.

Cannonville offers a local supermarket but the convenience of having Port Elizabeth nearby means there are more shops at Bluewater Bay located 15km away or even at the Boardwalk and any of the metro’s other malls which are a maximum of 30 minutes away.

The lodge is also able to organise game drives at the Addo Elephant National Park or any of the other game reserves in the area.

But probably the best and most popular part of the lodge is its ferry cruises on a double-decker craft which is accredited by the South African Maritime Safety Authority to carry up to 30 passengers.

This is perfect for team-building and corporate groups or even for groups of family and friends. The ferry comes complete with a toilet in the back section, an upstairs section for better views and enough seating for all.

Guests are also free to bring snacks and drinks aboard in a cooler box to enjoy while taking in the views at their leisure.

Kingma starts each 2½-hour long cruise with a safety talk, and as the ferry’s skipper, his knowledge about the estuary and the sand dunes along the river are evident. He is a fount of knowledge about the area’s abundant plant and animal life.

“The river’s origin goes as far as Nieu Bethesda, just outside Graaff-Reinet, and although it is salt water here, there is also fresh water flowing through it thanks to the Gariep Dam,” he said.

Travelling about eight kilometres down the scenic river towards the mouth, Kingma nearly always stops at the sand dunes so that his more energetic guests can climb the dunes with him for majestic, panoramic views of the ocean and the river.

The area, known as the Alexandria Coastal Dunefield, stretches for four kilometres parallel between the river and the ocean, and is regarded as one of the largest, most impressive and least degraded dunefield systems in the world.

Kingma can also provide visitors with sand boards for a more exhilarating descent down the silvery dunes.

At the end of the ferry cruise, , braais and snacks can be catered for and enjoyed along the banks of the river at a popular picnic spot which has a play area for the children.

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