Discover the Donkin Reserve in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth)

Posted on Fri June 21, 2024.

The Donkin Reserve is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Gqeberha. This historic site offers a rich tapestry of stories, art, and natural beauty, making it an unforgettable destination. A guided tour with Into Tours ensures you experience all the reserve has to offer, from its poignant monuments to its vibrant artistic expressions. Discover why the Donkin Reserve is a cherished national monument and an essential part of South Africa’s Eastern Cape heritage.

Discover the Donkin Reserve in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth): A Historical and Cultural Gem

The Donkin Reserve in Gqeberha, previously known as Port Elizabeth, is a captivating blend of history, art, and natural beauty. This iconic site, offering panoramic views of the city and Algoa Bay, stands as a testament to South Africa’s rich heritage and the visionary legacy of Sir Rufane Donkin. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, art lover, or simply looking for a serene spot to enjoy the coastal breeze, the Donkin Reserve is a must-visit destination. Let’s delve into the fascinating history, attractions, and reasons why a guided tour is the best way to experience this national monument.

A Glimpse into History: The Legacy of Sir Rufane Donkin

The Donkin Reserve owes its name and existence to Sir Rufane Donkin, the Acting Governor of the Cape Colony in the early 19th century. In 1820, Donkin established the reserve in memory of his beloved wife, Elizabeth, who passed away tragically in India. He commissioned the construction of the Pyramid, a poignant stone monument inscribed with the words, “To the memory of one of the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below.”

The Donkin Pyramid and Lighthouse

The Donkin Pyramid

Erected in 1820, this 10-meter high pyramid serves as a moving tribute to Lady Elizabeth Donkin. The monument's simple yet profound inscription and its commanding presence are a heartfelt memorial from Sir Rufane Donkin to his late wife. The pyramid also symbolizes the birth of the city named in her honor, Port Elizabeth.

The Donkin Lighthouse

Built in 1861, the lighthouse stands 22 meters tall and is an iconic beacon overlooking the bay. Although it no longer serves as a functional lighthouse, it’s a significant historical landmark. Visitors can climb to the top for breathtaking views of the city and coastline, making it a highlight of any visit to the reserve.
Route 67: A Cultural and Artistic Journey
Route 67 is a vibrant public art initiative that weaves through the Donkin Reserve, celebrating Nelson Mandela's 67 years of service to South Africa. The route features 67 art pieces, each reflecting a year of Mandela’s life dedicated to fighting for freedom and democracy.

Key Highlights of Route 67

Mosaic Artworks

The reserve is adorned with stunning mosaic art, including the Voting Line Sculpture, which represents the diverse people of South Africa lining up to cast their votes in the first democratic elections of 1994. This powerful piece captures the essence of unity and hope.

The Colorful Mosaic 

These stairs are beautifully decorated with vibrant tiles and lead visitors on a colorful path through history and culture, adding a whimsical touch to the reserve’s landscape.

Historical Murals and Sculptures

Throughout the reserve, you'll find numerous murals and sculptures that narrate the city’s history and the broader South African struggle for freedom. These artworks provide deep insights into the cultural and political evolution of the region.

The Flag Pole: A Symbol of Freedom

The giant South African flag pole is a dominant feature of the reserve, proudly flying the national flag. Standing at 65 meters tall, it is one of the tallest flag poles in South Africa. The flag and its towering presence serve as a symbol of the country’s democratic journey and the unity of its people.

Exploring the Donkin Reserve: Attractions and Activities

Walking Tours

Strolling through the Donkin Reserve offers an immersive experience of its rich history and artistic expressions. Guided walking tours are particularly popular as they provide detailed narratives and context to the monuments and artworks you encounter.


With its dramatic views, striking monuments, and artistic installations, the Donkin Reserve is a paradise for photographers. Every corner offers a unique perspective and a chance to capture the beauty of Gqeberha.

Why Book a Guided Tour?

In-depth Historical Insights

Guided tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide fascinating stories and historical context that you might miss on a self-guided visit. They bring the history of the Donkin Reserve and Gqeberha to life.

Art and Culture Appreciation

With a guide, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the art installations on Route 67 and the significance behind each piece. This enhances your appreciation of the cultural richness embedded in the reserve.

Convenience and Navigation

The Donkin Reserve covers a large area with numerous points of interest. A guided tour ensures you don’t miss any key attractions and helps you navigate the space efficiently.

Personalized Experience

Many tours offer customizable options, allowing you to focus on areas of particular interest, whether it's the history, art, or the panoramic views from the lighthouse.

Conclusion: A Visit to Remember

The Donkin Reserve is not just a national monument but a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. It stands as a tribute to love, a beacon of hope, and a celebration of unity. Whether you’re exploring its historical landmarks, admiring the art on Route 67, or simply enjoying the serene environment, the Donkin Reserve promises an enriching and memorable experience.

Plan your visit today and discover why the Donkin Reserve is one of South Africa’s most cherished heritage sites. To ensure you make the most of your visit, consider booking a guided tour with Into Tours and delve deeper into the heart of Gqeberha’s historical and cultural landscape.

For more information or to book a tour, visit our website or contact us at:

Email: [email protected]
WhatsApp: +27609867612

Embark on a journey through the Donkin Reserve and let its stories and sights inspire you.