AWE-Hiking Experiece

Have you ever wondered which plant species found in the coastal forest and thicket vegetation are edible and could be eaten in times of need? What if we were to tell you that there are many edible and useful species to be found in this lush environment....Some of which are delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Our Awehness Hike with Nature Guide Graeme Pienaar will identify many of these species and explain how they have been used in the past. We will explore either Baakens Valley/Settlers Park, or the Maitland Nature Reserve.

 
 

HIKING ROUTES:

Maitland Nature Reserve
Sacramento Trail - Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve
Cape Recife Nature Reserve
The Island Nature Reserve
Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve
Groendal Wilderness Area Full day Hiking Adventures
Alexandria Forest and Dunefield Hiking Trails
Zuurberg Trails

Highlights: 

  • Diverse coastal fynbos

  • Edible Vegetation Knowledge

  • Birding

  • Spectacular sea views

  • historical significance

  • Traditional Plant Uses

  • The tour also includes lunch with Frederick & Son

  • Craft Beer Tasting.


    MAITLAND NATURE RESERVE:

The 150 ha Maitland Nature Reserve comprises three trails (3Km – 9Km) which can be walked on their own or in combination with each other. All three of these hikes join an old wagon trail which is of historical significance as it was one of the first attempts at mining in the Cape Colony in the late 18th Century.

The hiking trails meander through lush coastal forest which gives way to thicket and dune fynbos in sections making the area a hotpot of biodiversity for plant and birdlife.    

These varied habitat types are also home to smaller buck, mammals and abundant insect life with colourful butterflies ever present. There are intermittent ocean views and the Maitland Dunefield can also be seen from the western section of the reserve which has colourful and hardy plant life for us to discover.

Thunzi Bush Lodge forms the eastern border of the reserve and the De Stades River wetland system creates a unique ecosystem for a diverse variety of bird life.

Highlights Include:

• Hikes can include both Maitland Nature Reserve and Thunzi Bush Lodge surrounds.

• Varied vegetation types with diverse coastal forest, wetland and thicket species.

• Birdlife is plentiful in the varied habitat types and the region is also an Important Bird Area, extending for 23 km along coastal dunefield from the Gamtoos River mouth to the Maitland River mouth. 

• This Nature Reserve conserves threatened habitat types and is of historical significance. 

• Thunzi Bush Lodge Birding

• Discover Interesting Traditional Plant Uses.

SACRAMENTO TRAIL TO SARDINIA BAY NATURE RESERVE:

There are varied hiking options (3Km – 9Km) possible along this stretch of coast with lush vegetated dunes and rocky coastline interspersed with sandy bays and beaches. The Sacramento Trail is named after a Portuguese galleon which was wrecked on the rocks a few hundred meters off this coastline. A canon salvaged from this ship and a monument both pay homage to this ill-fated vessel and its crew who attempted to walk all the way up the coastline to Delagoa Bay after the ship ran aground.

The Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve is not only home to vulnerable plant species found within the Dune Fynbos vegetation, but is also a marine protected reserve and the views over the ocean provide excellent whale and dolphin spotting opportunities. The protected rocky coastline below provides ideal habitat for a wide diversity of marine life and coastal sea birds. 

Plant life is varied and colourful flowers are evident year round. Stunted trees and many other species along this coastline have adapted to the exposed conditions brought by wind and sea spray. 

Highlights include:

Dune fynbos and forest thicket mosaic vegetation which houses vulnerable coastal species.

Diverse and colourful carpet of species where many members of the Aster or Daisy family find their roots. 

The protected White Milkwood can be found close to the sea together with many other interesting species.

The Sacramento Trail has fascinating historical significance. 

Spectacular sea views with excellent whale and dolphin spotting opportunities. 

Discover Interesting Traditional Plant Uses

CAPE RECIFE NATURE RESERVE:

The Trail of The Roseate Tern is a 9 km hike (with shorter options possible) passing through varied coastal habitats. This hike passes the Cape Recife water reclamation works and these large ponds present some of the best birding opportunities around Port Elizabeth. 

The trail winds through dune fynbos and coastal Algoa dune thicket which displays a diverse and interesting flora on the sand by-pass dune system. Milkwood, candlewood, waxberry, guarri, saffron, dune olive and crossberry are some of the trees encountered as we explore the different habitat types on the trail. 

Numerous ships have run aground on the offshore reefs visible in places along the trail and the remains of a World War II barracks and military observation post provide interesting historical significance. 

Hardy succulents such as Aloe africana (Curved aloe), varied members of the Vygie family and the endangered Cotyledon adscendens are also found in this sandy environment and provide colourful sprays and backdrops to the coastal scenery.

Highlights include:

• Diverse coastal fynbos and St. Francis dune thicket flora finds its home amongst the natural dune vegetation and rocky outcrops which form part of this protected reserve. 

• South Africa’s third oldest Lighthouse and SANNCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds).

• Abundant wetland and coastal birdlife. The Reserve is also home to varied species of tern, including the Roseate, Damara and Arctic at different times of the year. 

• Bird Hide at the reclamation works. 

• Military Observation Posts and historical significance from yesteryear.

THE ISLAND NATURE RESERVE:

(On the Trail of the Bushbuck)

The Island Nature Reserve is 484 hectares and consists of coastal fynbos, coastal forest and a relic patch of dense Alexandria forest all serving as habitat for varied smaller mammals and diverse birdlife. White starred robin, blue-mantled flycatcher, narina trogon and scaly-throated honeyguide are some of the bird species encountered along the forest sections of the trail. 

The Bushbuck Walk consists of a network of inter-linking trails (circular trails) which traverse most of the larger reserve area and provide the hiker with a predominantly indigenous forest experience. 

Hikers have the option of combining all five trail sections into a single day hike of approximately 14Km or completing shorter variations of the varied interlinking sections. All trails return to the same end point which is the office and picnic section of the Island Nature Reserve. Most of the hiking takes place through well established climax forest on ancient consolidated sand dunes which houses forest species normally only found further to the east and west. It represents a special and unique forested hiking environment which is home to a large diversity of fauna and flora.  

Highlights Include:

• Coastal forest, coastal fynbos and a relic patch of dense Alexandria Forest all serve as habitat for a diverse variety of smaller mammals and birdlife. 

• An extensive network of interlinking hiking trails through relic patches of indigenous coastal forest make the Bushbuck Trail a nature lover’s paradise. 

• Fauna includes the diminutive blue duiker, bushbuck, vervet monkey, bushpigs and caracal. Insect and birdlife is all around.

• There are many interesting tree, shrub and flower species to be seen in this lush forest environment.

VAN STADENS WILDFLOWER RESERVE:

There are varied hiking options possible in this 600Ha Nature Reserve, ranging from short rambles to the 11Km Van Stadens Hike which incorporates sections of the River, Link, Forest and Nymph Trails. 

Described as a floral wonderland, this area is home to an exceptionally diverse plant life found in the varied habitat types encountered along the trails. From grassy fynbos with colourful Protea species, ancient cycads and varied members of the Iris family to Indian Ocean forest which is home to endemic species such as Atalaya capensis (Cape wing-nut) and Smellophyllum capense (buig-my-nie) which have limited distributions. 

Home to a diverse birdlife in the differing habitat types, hikers should be on the look-out for fynbos endemics such as the Cape sugarbird, Protea seedeater and Victorin’s warbler while meandering across the plateau. The forest environment provides an entirely different habitat niche and narina trogon, Knysna turaco and varied flycatchers are just a few of the birds with colourful plumage and displays to be seen.

The surrounding landscape and scenery is contrasting and provides spectacular views of mountains, river gorge and plateau vistas. No two hikes are ever similar in this reserve as new species are evident on every excursion. This is a fynbos and forest wonderland.

Highlights include:

• The Reserve conserves varied endemic, rare and threatened plant species in the varied habitats. 

• Excellent protea and pea family spotting in Port Elizabeth. 

• Van Stadens Indian Ocean Forest and thicket mosaics with grassy fynbos on the plateau. 

• Exceptional floral diversity in the varied habitat types.

 

 



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