Eastern Cape DestinationsChelsea Conservancy, Port Elizabeth
The beautiful Chelsea Conservancy, about 8 kilometres outside of Port Elizabeth as one nears the end of the Garden Route, is one of those little unexpected, not much talked about, surprises so typical of the Eastern Cape.
Edging the Indian Ocean, the conservancy is lush indigenous Eastern Cape bush, thick with milkwood trees and the call of birds, attracted to the abundant vegetation. The unspoilt beaches of Sardinia Bay lie just beyond the Chelsea Conservancy. This part of the world offers incredible views of the sea, dune vegetation, dense dune scrub, fynbos and, at the right time of year, wild flowers. Sardinia Bay, the popular swimming beach, is part of a popular coastal walk that passes through the Schoenmakerskop-Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve.
Hard to believe that Sardinia Bay was once the source of a 7 000 hectare drift sands area that stretched all the way to Humewood. To deal with the instability during the late 1800s, Port Elizabeth dumped its rubbish on to the dunes, but the drift-sands continually try to reassert themselves - any rough treatment of the sensitive dune vegetation could upset the balance.
The entire area around the Chelsea Conservancy is given over to one nature reserve or another. A trail from Sardinia Bay beach crosses a wooden boardwalk across the sensitive dunes and over the car park, after which one enters the Sylvic Nature Reserve and Bushy Park. You would be hard pushed to find a more beautiful part of the coastline.