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Addo's Alexandria Hiking Trail

30 January 2007

Hiking the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail in Addo Elephant National Park is an unforgettable experience that leads the hiker through three distinctly different environments ranging from forest to coastal dunes, to seashore. No other trail in the country can boast this diversity, as you clamber up the desert-like dunes and stand aloft cliffs crumbling into the sea, trek through high forest, and along spectacular beaches...

The trail begins in the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park, where you'll walk through breathtakingly beautiful lush, green, indigenous forest, where ancient yellowwoods and spectacular coral trees can reach skywards, filled with prolific birdlife. You'll pass antelope browsing peacefully laong the way, and the “Waterboom”, a gigantic yellowwood named for the reservoir of water held at the base of its trunk – provides an a perfect resting place.

After crossing the open fields of Perdekloof, the trail moves onto the beach where the stark sandy beach ecosystem and dramatic dune fields provide dramatic scenery and you can trail your toes in the surf. Six kilometers of untouched coastline stretches out in front of the hiker.

The dramatic cliffs of the Woody Cape provide the hiker the two options, either walking along the boulder strewn base of the cliffs (which should be avoided at high tide) or climbing a log ladder to reach the top leading onto the dune fields. Attentive hikers will see Southern Right Whales just off shore in certain months and dolphins are often spotted playing in the waves. You can investigate the wreck of the Nidaros, an old steamer, as well as the fascinating natural debris washed up by the sea onto this protected beach.

After a walk through the aromatic coastal fynbos, hikers will find the Woody Cape hut nestled in thick coastal forest on top of the cliffs, with a view of Bird Island in the distance.

On the second day, the trail traverses sand dunes of the largest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere. It's another world and early morning provides hikers an opportunity to investigate the signs of animals, such as jackals, duikers and the endemic hairy-footed gerbil, left on the dunes from the previous night. Tall posts guide hikers through the shifting dune fields. Fascinating ancient midden sites, evidence of the strandloper people that wandered these shores, can also be seen on the trek through the timeless landscape. The last five kilometers of the trail again winds through the beautiful indigenous forest where knysna turacos paint the canopy.