Port Elizabeth’s Dirsuwei family – mom Sarah, dad Ralph and their three sons – Jacob, 16, Luke, 14, and Cian, 11, are on a mission to explore the world together, spreading positivity about South Africa through their travel blog, Chasing the Rainbow
How to save your family R5 000 with a Nelson Mandela Bay Pass
It’s that time of year again when the rest of the world descends on our beautiful little city for the summer holiday season. Why Port Elizabeth? That’s easy to answer – the beach, the dolphins, the elephants, the adventure, the ocean, the penguins, the history, the restaurants, the climate, the relaxed vibe, the price, the friendly people – the list goes on and on and on.
And while these global visitors are queuing up for our world-class adventure activities, many local families miss out on experiencing the fun. We understand that it’s pricy to take your family on an outing, but here is the good news – our family saved a whopping R5 000 while having the time of our lives thanks to our Nelson Mandela Bay 5-in-1 Passes.
Here’s how you can save big time while delighting your family:
First off, head on over to www.nelsonmandelabaypass.co.za and purchase each family member a 5-in-1 pass. You have three months to use the passes on any five of the 53 participating attractions.
Next, sit together as a family and look at all the activities available. Shortlist those that more than one of you are interested in. The list will probably be way longer than only 5, but it will be a good starting point and help guide you in the right direction over the 3 month period.
We chose activities that are ordinarily quite costly, to make sure we got the most value with our passes. Here is what we did:
Adrenalin Addo (Regular price R300 per person)
A unanimous first choice for our family was the thrill and adrenalin rush of the longest double zipline in Africa. We booked the earliest timeslot available, and were first to arrive and gear up in our mountaineering harnesses and hard hats. After crossing the river on a pontoon, we hiked up the steep hill to the raised wooden platform right on top. Oh boy, it was really high up. It took guts to sit back off the platform into thin air, but the fear was quickly forgotten as we screamed through the air over the treetops and river.
Half the fun is being able to watch the person next to you and we couldn’t stop laughing out loud, even after we reached the bottom, climbed down the ladder and watched the others zoom down after us.
This activity is guaranteed to put a smile on even the moodiest of teenagers’ faces and is the perfect way to start a day trip to Addo!
- Sundays River Ferry (Regular price R380 per person, R190 for children under 12)
The distinctive blue double storey Sunday’s River Ferry departs from the sleepy riverside town of Colchester, 30 minutes East of Port Elizabeth. The ferry cruises gently down Sundays River towards the estuary and the view of the surrounding nature reserve and holiday houses along the way is cathartically peaceful. We sat on the top deck and spotted some huge Goliath Herons fishing along the side of the river, and then moved to the shaded deck below and enjoyed Captain Les’ stories about the area.
The ferry docked at the base of a magnificent dune field and the kids enjoyed playing on the steep dunes and swimming and fishing in the river. We also tried out the sand sledding, which is an optional extra activity, and was amazingly good fun.
After a gentle cruise back to the jetty, we finished our outing with a picnic under a tree on the river bank. What a perfect family day out!
- Kuzuko Safari (Regular price R450 per person)
Game drives are a fantastic activity for a family to enjoy together. We love the bush, and will always jump at the opportunity to sit in an open vehicle and have our senses delighted with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of wild Africa. Safaris in private game reserves can be prohibitively expensive though, and it is incredible that such a luxurious outing is included as an option on the NMB pass.
The pass includes lunch and a game drive. With Kuzuko being a two and a half hour drive from Port Elizabeth, we opted to head out in the morning and have lunch at Kuzuko before enjoying an afternoon game drive.
Kuzuko Lodge is perched on top of the highest round hill, with the most spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape.
The Karoo terrain and plants are so uniquely different, and we loved seeing the shy Cape Mountain Zebra, the graceful perfectly-painted Gemsbok and herds of big-eared and doe-eyed Kudu as well as some of the most famous lions in the country.
Our ranger, Arlo, was amazingly knowledgeable and passionate about the bush, and stopped often to point out incredible things (not only the animals, but the smaller and often unnoticed wonders of nature too). All in all a magical family outing that will remain in our hearts and minds forever.
- Oceanside Surf lessons (Regular price – R200-R250 per person)
Although we are avid beach lovers, we had never before taken our boys surfing. Boogie boarding, yes. Body surfing, of course. But never stand up surfing.
When we arrived at Oceanside on King’s Beach, our very cool coach Dane chose us each a wetsuit and before I knew it, I was pouring my body into skin tight neoprene. As I trotted into the waves after my offspring, I realised for the first time in my life, what a joy it is to wear a wetsuit. What is with the bikinis? Ladies, we have been tricked. Less is not more! This neoprene miracle suit keeps you warm, buoyant, and slim looking, all at the same time.
While I was soaking in the joys of my surfer chick outfit, my boys were already catching waves. Dane helped with the timing – giving us all a shove at the right moment, so we could focus on trying to stand up.
Legs were flying, boards were tumbling and the air was filled with the joyful sound of laughter, shrieking and whooping. Every now and then, someone managed to stay on and stand up – first Luke, then Cian and then Jacob. I was so proud of my boys, and none of us could contain the thrill of their achievement – even Dane was cheering his head off!
We kept going back for more and more, and the waves kept coming. A good ride and you want to do it again. A bad ride and you want to try again to do it better. The surfing bug had bitten!
- Paintball Heaven (Regular price R100 per person)
I don’t know what it is about hunting down your friends and annihilating them with paintballs that appeals to boys, but a 4-1 democratic family vote took us to Paintball Heaven as our last NMB Pass activity.
Paintball Heaven consists of a series of battle arenas set in the bush and is a buzz of activity filled with the sound of shouted strategies, popping airgun fire, whooping and screaming.
The boys were split into teams and given blue and brown team overalls to wear over their many layers of clothes (apparently the discomfort from overheating is better than the sting of a paintball exploding on raw flesh).
Our marshal sat us down and explained the safety rules, the most important of which was “Do not shoot the marshal”. The boys were allocated guns and off they went into the first arena, consisting of various wooden structures and hillocks. I am not too sure what the aim was but there was lots of shooting and one team seemed to emerge the winner.
Now that they were warmed up a bit, we made our way to the second arena, which was a field filled with padded blue equipment to hide behind while you tried to shoot the opposing team members. When you get shot, you’re out and walk out with your hands and gun held in the air, hoping like hell that none of your opponents take a pot shot as you exit the field.
Then there was the flag challenge, where whichever team grabs the flag in the centre of the arena and makes it out alive wins. And to finish off, some free-play where anything goes, followed by target practice with your left over bullets.
The 5-in-1 pass costs R475 per person (aged 13 and over), and R320 per child (under 12). There is also an Ibhayi Sunshine Saunter pass which is valid for your choice of 4 activities over a period of 3 months from a limited selection of 9 attractions. These cost R250 per person (13 and over) and R200 per child (under 12).
For visitors to the area, there is also a one, two, three or seven day pass which includes unlimited activities for that number of days.
Our family’s savings of R5 000 was calculated based on the regular price of our chosen activities for our family of 5 (2 adults, 2 teens and 1 kid of 11) less the purchase price of our 5-in-1 Nelson Mandela Bay Passes.
- See more from the Dirsuwei family at Chasing the Rainbow