The Dirsuwei family – mom Sarah, dad Ralph and their three sons – Jacob, 16, Luke, 14, and Cian, 11, is a Port Elizabeth family is on a mission to explore the world together, spreading positivity about South Africa through their travel blog, Chasing the Rainbow
Our adrenalin adventures
Part of the reason why we choose to live in Port Elizabeth is that we are massive fans of Mother Nature. Our definition of a perfect family day is one spent with the sand in our toes, the gurgling of water in our ears and green leaves dappling sunlight in our eyes.
Whatever direction you choose to go from PE, West towards the Garden Route, East towards Addo and Grahamstown, inland into the small Karoo or straight out to sea, there are literally hundreds of outdoor adventures just waiting to be enjoyed.
Here are three of our kids’ favourite local outdoor family adventures, that you can enjoy together as a family on a day off.
- Adrenalin Addo
This double zipline ride over citrus farmlands is a whooshing, whooping, rush of hysterical adrenalin. It is the longest double zipline in the whole of Africa, and that means you get to enjoy it in pairs – watching your kids zoom next to you is half the fun, and we literally laughed out loud the entire way down. The anticipation itself is very entertaining too. You have to rig up in all sorts of impressive looking gear, with straps, harnesses, clips and crash helmets, and then cross a river on a primitive raft and hike up a steep hill all the way to the wooden platform perched on top of the cliff. And it looks really high from up there. Then you hop up onto the launch deck and literally jump off the mountain, before sitting back and enjoying the ride. You are clipped onto a pulley which makes a really loud squealing sound as it slides along the metal line, and you fly over trees, grass and the river before coming to a steady halt with the automated braking system at the end, where you hang until a guy with a really big ladder comes to clip you down.
The combination of nervous adrenalin and laugh-out-loud endorphins left us on such a fantastic high, and gave us something to talk about for ages after.
- Sand Sledding
Not only are the Colchester dune fields at Sundays River spectacularly beautiful, but these huge sand mountains provide the perfect slope to slide down at the speed of light. The one thing we don’t get in PE is snow, but that hasn’t stopped us. While the rest of the world skis, boards and sleds down snow covered hills in winter, we get to do it in the warm summer sun. The Sundays River Ferry departs from Colchester, and takes a slow meander down river to the picturesque Sundays River estuary. The ride itself is phenomenal and we love to sit upstairs on the viewing deck, watching the local birdlife and goings on of the people on the river. When the ferry docks at the base of the sand dunes, it’s a pretty tough climb up to the top, but well worth it as the ride down is heart-racingly entertaining. Captain Les talks you through how to do it properly without wiping out, and it’s pretty easy really. You can zoom right into the river at the bottom if you want, and it feels amazing to cool down in the fresh salt water. Five thumbs up from our family!
- Oceanside Surfing
Although we have lived by the coast for many years now, we had never until recently been surfing. We kind of figured it was too late – we just assumed it’s something you have to be born into, or do from really young. Did you know that you can take a surfing lesson anytime along PE’s beachfront? Oceanside Surf Store offers lessons for all skill levels and ages, and we had a ball with a family introductory lesson. They kit you out in a nifty wetsuit, give you a surfboard and a cool surfer dude to show you the ropes and then before you know it, you are in the “foamies”, popping up and riding the waves.
The kids absolutely loved it and have been begging to go back. I was completely gobsmacked by how much I enjoyed it and am also planning on returning with some of my close friends in tow. It was so super liberating and energising and incredible to do something so completely out of my comfort zone!
Perhaps you do need to start surfing early in life to do it well, but it’s never too late to get out there and have fun giving it a go.
The nitty gritty:
These activities are also available on the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass (www.nelsonmandelabaypass.co.za), which works out unbeatable value for money if you do multiple activities. The 5-in-1 pass is valid for any 5 activities over a 3 month period and is ideal for residents who want to be a tourist in their own town.
With our busy schedule of work, school, homework and running our own hospitality business, we don’t get much free time. We would so appreciate your recommendations for things to do as a family in one day in and around Port Elizabeth. Please give us your suggestions in the comments section below, and we will add it to our wanderlist.
See more from the Dirsuwei family at Chasing the Rainbow