Friday, October 24, 2008

The Colchester Dunefields

The village of Colchester is nestled on the banks of the Sundays River, about 35km outside Port Elizabeth. Starting at Colchester (west of the Sundays River Mouth) heading east is the Alexandria Dunefields. These are reputed to be the largest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere and the second largest in the world. The western part is locally known as the Colchester Dunefields and can only be reached with a boat by cruising down the river and landing on the banks close to the river mouth.

For the public the easiest way to get there is by taking a pleasure cruise on the Sundays River Ferry with my friends Les and Maggie. They will take visitors down the river telling them of the history of the area and pointing out interesting facts along the way. The river is also a very good bird watching area with a very wide variety of birds occurring along it's banks.

The land the ferry about a kilometer upstream from the river mouth from where passengers can disembark and start up the dunes. The first section is a very steep climb up the first dune.

From there it is a constant climb up and down the dunes to get to the top of the highest dune. From here there is a great view across this section of the dune fields, to the river mouth and across the bay to Port Elizabeth. The land across the river is part of the new section of the Addo Elephant National Park. The hope is that this section will be fenced and hopefully in a couple of years elephants will be roaming along that section of the dunes.

A good idea is take take a couple of boards along to slide down the dunes or if, like us, you don't just run down at full tap and hope you don't buy a piece of dune on the way down. This is an awesome experience and our Chinese delegation said that the visit to the ferry and sand dunes was one of the highlights of their visit to Port Elizabeth.

This was my second trip on the ferry. On my first visit to the dunes I took a picture of a "snail graveyard" between the dunes.


  1. Firefly, I have often flown over the dures and have been awed by the size. I did notrealise they were record book material. Not so sure I will brave the climb up them though, but them who knows, I may brave it.

  2. Oh this looks so fantastic, my father is fascinated, by your blog it brings so many memories back for him, he is very well travelled, but says yours is the country everyone should visit, and I must say each time I visit you, its just wonderful, and when I win the lottery or marry a millionaire, It is a place I will defintley visit. Heres a strange fact for you, I live 30 miles from Colchester in the UK, it is was the Roman capital of the UK, a garrison town now and home to the Parachute Regiment of the army and has a magnificent medieval castle.

  3. Do you know I lived in Pe my whole life (till I was 30, anyway!) and never went here?!? The ferry sounds like a wounderful idea - where does it leave from?

  4. What an awesome sight it would be to watch elephants walking in the dunes! Magnificent. I've known about these dunes ever since I was a little girl, but have never been - should definitely make a plan!

  5. Max-e: The dunes in the Colchester section is little kiddies compared to the ones in the main section. Apparently they are like mountains over on that peice of coastline.

    Ann: I am glad that both you and your father enjoy the blog. I appreciate that you keep on coming back for more. I will keep them coming. I used to be a tourist guide and once had to stop for a lady from Colchester to have her photo taken next to the sign.

    Jeanne: The ferry departs from the Cannonville slipway, but bookings are essensial.

    Karin: There is always a first time.

  6. Thanks! I'll definitely look into doing that on my next visit :)