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St George's Park
Established in 1860 and covers more than 73 hectares of wooded parkland with extensive plant collections and specimen trees. The Park includes:- Pearsons Conservatory built in 1882 - Mannville Open Air Theatre - Prince Alfred's Guard Memorial -St George's Park Cricket Grounds - King George Art Gallery & Arts Hall.
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Settler's Park
Covering 76 hectares, gives visitors the opportunity to experience a walk on the 'wild side'. The park boast a unique biodiversity of birds and plant life, network of footpaths, flower display house, water features, situette replica of 1820 settlers monument in Grahamstown, Anglo Boer war trenches, a section of the 18 km Guinea Fowl hiking trail.
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Aloe Trail
Bluewater BayClick to Enlarge
There are two trails, a short one of 2 km marked with yellow arrows and a longer of 7 km (3 hours) marked with red arrows. Both start at the gate at the top of Tippers Creek Road between Amsterdamhoek and Bluewater Bay and take a circular route via the escarpment, returning through the valley bushveld on the plateau. The walks are suitable for reasonably fit persons. Although it can be hot in summer. It is advisable to walk in a group, wear strong shoes and take a sunhat and drinking water.
The dense, stunted vegetation known as valley bushveld has adapted to the arid climate combined with the shallow clay soils on top of calcareous sandstone. Aloes, especially pluridens, make a stunning show when in flower during June / July and attract many sunbirds.
Amsterdamhoek, the village below the escarpment, is named after a Dutch ship called The Amsterdam, which ran aground near the mouth of the river on 16 December 1817.
From the top of the escarpment, there are breath taking views of the Swartkops Estuary, Redhouse, The Swartkops Nature Reserve, the Uitenhage mountains and Cockscomb.
Grysbok are common, whereas bushpig and the rear blue duiker are seldom seen. Formerly, this bush supported many game animals, including elephant. The remaining evidence of the presence of these large mammals are the well-worn game tracks and the old willows.
NOTE: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk

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The Trail of the Roseate Tern
CAPE RECIFE NATURE RESERVE
The walk of 9 km (3-4 hours) starts at the entrance gate to the Cape Recife Nature Reserve where there are ablutions and an Information Center. The 366 ha reserve was proclaimed in 1973 and is situated next to the Pine Lodge Resort off Marine Drive. No permit is required for hikers leaving their vehicles outside the gate, but an annual or weekly permit, available from Pine Lodge or from the Beach Office at Happy Valley, is required for vehicles entering the reserve. The trail is suitable for moderately fir persons. It is advised to walk in a group, wear shoes and take a sunhat and drinking-water. NO DOGS are allowed.
At the entrance gate, red arrows indicate the route to the beach. The trail turns inland at the concrete outlet pipe from the water reclamation works and crosses the road. The bird hide on the lower reclamation pond is reached after passing through a stand of alien rooikrans bushes. The ponds are part of the Cape Recife water reclamation works and the water is unsuitable for drinking or washing purposes. These ponds make this area one of the best bird watching venues around Port Elizabeth and several species of ducks and waders can be seen. Sitting quietly in the hide, shy reedbed birds such as black crake, purple gallinule and little bittern may show themselves, and the otters are not uncommon. The purple flowers of the Ipomoea creeper are very conspicuous along the path leading from the hide. The trail now passes along the causeway next to the top reclamation pond, crosses a wooden bridge and then turns sharp left, following the crest of a vegetated dune to the beach. Bushpig spoor can usually be seen and several buck species are found here.
A long beach walk passes the lighthouse, built in 1851 and automated only recently. Observe how sand is transported around the point via the by-pass sand dune system, typical of many of the southern coast peninsulas. At low tide the rock pools provide a fascinating glimpse of life under the waves where sea-anemones, sea-urchins and starfish may be found. Near the lighthouse is a large tern roost, where the rare roseate tern, which used to breed here, is sometimes seen.
On a rocky promontory at the end of the sandy beach a penguin sanctuary has been established. To keep disturbance to a minimum, please keep out. Endangered African (jackass) penguins are brought here by the PE Oceanarium prior to their release. It is hoped that eventually these birds will form the nucleus of a mainland breeding colony. On most occasions there are no penguins in the sanctuary. From the top of the steps waves can be seen breaking over Thunderbolt reef, the graveyard of numerous ships, the last being the Kapodistrias on 29th July 1985.
After traversing a shell beach, the trail heads inland over sand-dunes vegetated with fynbos and dune scrub. It meanders through the remains of World War two barracks before climbing the hill to the fortress observation post, erected in 1940 as part of the harbour defenses. From here there is an excellent view of the bay and reserve. The trail now leads over the stabilized vegetated dunes, once part of an extensive shifting dune system that covered much of Summerstrand. Returning to the reclamation ponds, the trail is followed in reverse until just before the bird hide, the route back to the gate passing through a recently cleared rooikrans forest.
NOTE: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk

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LOWER GUINEA-FOWL TRAIL
Although the full Guinea-fowl Trail begins at Hawthorne Avenue, Sunridge Park, the 7,5km Lower Trail starts at the Third Avenue Dip in Newton Park, leading down river to Settlers Park and Brickmakers Kloof. The trail is not difficult for reasonably fit persons. However, the river is crossed on numerous occasions by steppingstones and these may become hazardous or impassable after rain. It is advised to walk in a group, wear strong shoes and take a sunhat and drinking water.
The trail runs alongside the Baakens River, which is about 23 km long and has its source in the Hunters Retreat area, entering the sea through the harbour. The Guinea-fowl trail passes through a steep-sided valley below the city suburbs for its full length.
Keep a look out for varied indigenous bird and animal life. A high, sheer, knife-edge spur protruding into the valley from Linkside is crossed by a boardwalk of steps which descends to the boundary of Dodds Farm. This is at present being redeveloped as a picnic area / arboretum. Access to the Guinea-fowl trail can be gained through Dodds Farm from Ninth Avenue Walmer.
Crossing the river near Bat's cave, the trail leads to the left and traverses open veld through the old Trollips Farm. It passes through a wooded section of valley bushveld and crosses the river twice, before leading on to Target Kloof. The trail goes under the road bridge and crosses the river again to follow the flood-plain below the Alsatian Club. A steep path leads up to Wellington Park, crosses a hillside of thick fynbos with a wonderful panoramic view of the Baakens Valley and descends into the Essexvale section of Settlers Park. The trail then follows the main route through Settlers Park, but, before going further, look up to the high Lovers Rock, the home of the rare peregrine falcon. The next river crossing, mostly dry, brings hiker to a choice of two route - turn left up the tarred Jan Smuts Walk to reach the main car-park or carry on through Settlers Park to eventually reach Barnes Quarry and the Brickmakers Kloof entrance.
While in Settlers Park, you may see guinea-fowl, peacock, mountain tortoise, leopard tortoise, dassies and mongooses and, if you are lucky, also see grysbok and the beautiful Knysna Lourie.
No dogs, please do not disturb the wild life and do not pick or damage vegetation.
NOTE: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk.

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Click to enlargeUPPER GUINEA-FOWL TRAIL
The Upper Guinea-fowl Trail is the middle part of a 26 km trail running alongside the Baakens River from Brickmakerskloof near the harbour to the N2 freeway at Rowallan Park. The Lower Guinea-fowl Trail ends at Third Avenue Dip, Newton Park and the 6 km Upper Guinea-fowl Trail continues from here up the Baakens Valley and exits at Hawthorne Avenue,Sunridge Park. ( access from Kragga Kamma Road or Circular Drive ) A joint Mountain Bicycle/ Hiking Trail continues a further 6 km upstream alongside the river, through Kabega to the N2 and returns to Kragga Kama Road in the valley below Sherwood and Beverley Grove. Red arrows indicate the journey up the valley, yellow arrows the reverse direction and white arrows indicate feeder paths.
The trail is not difficult for reasonably fit persons, but there are more gradients and the paths are rougher than the lower Guinea-fowl Trail. Care should be taken when crossing the river, waterfall and storm water canals, especially after rain. It is advisable to walk in a group, wear strong shoes and carry drinking water.
On leaving the car park at Third Avenue Dip, the trail climbs the side of the valley and passes below Newton Park. The Baakens River below has its source in the Greenbushes area and enters the sea through the harbour.
Throughout the trail, but predominantly alongside the river, are large stands of alien vegetation (plant introduced from overseas). Removal of alien vegetation is a slow and costly process and seeds in the soil remain viable for many years. Some biological controls have been introduced to help combat the problem. A small black weevil found on the underside of the leaves of sesbania that choke the river banks has successfully prevented this plant from producing any more seed. Almost all the long-leafed wattle in the valley have large numbers of fruit-like galls caused by small parasitic wasp. Cut open a fresh gall to reveal the maggot-like larva in its chamber. The port jacksons are slowly being killed by rust fungus.
After passing under the William Moffett Expressway the trail climbs towards Fernglen. Here is a good example of Eastern Cape Fynbos, made up of small-leaved plants and bulbs interspersed with protea. Of the six floral kingdoms in the world, fynbos covers the smallest area but is the richest in species. Jackal buzzards and sunbirds can often be seen here. Mammals are scarce, although gray mongooses and grysbok may be seen.
The trail now goes along the Knife-edge, an outcrop of Table Mountain sandstone jutting into the valley. The vegetation on the steep slopes is valley bushveld, consisting of succulent or thorny shrubs interspersed with aloes.
The path joins the Baakens River Mountain Bike Trail for a short distance, crossing the river before diverging again. The mountain bikers continue alongside the river while the hikers climb through the fynbos below the former Fairview settlement, now being redeveloped as Overbaakens. Across the valley, below the church, is a wooded kloof with some yellowwood trees.
On the final leg of the journey below Sunridge Park the trail passes through a eucalyptus plantation. A small waterfall is crossed before the trail ends at the bottom of Hawthorne Avenue.
NOTE: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk.

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SETTLERS PARK - GUIDE FOR WALKERS
A recommended walk commences in the main car park off How Avenue where there are public toilets, drinking water, the Les. Prosser Flower Display House, named in memory of a past Director of Parks, and the Marquette of the 1820 Settlers Statue, the full size model being at Grahamstown. A panoramic view of the central part of Settlers Park is gained from the fence at the car park. This is a favorite congregating place for visitors as they gaze over the high cliff and the Baakens River, across the Walmer lawns to Fordyce Road and the Walmer Primary School. The Guinea-fowl Trail runs 18km along the length of the Baakens Valley from Settlers Park to the N2 beyond Kabega.
To the right of the park the tar-surfaced Jan Smuts Walk leads down a slope to the river and Essexvale, passing a plantation of pine-trees which were planted in the 1920's. Crossing the river the road leads upstream. past Lovers Rock to the car park at Essexvale. Turn here and retrace your footsteps to the bottom of the Jan Smuts Walk. The next section passes below a high cliff, but look carefully just before reaching this rock-faced and see, partly obscured from view, a narrow valley leading up to Prospect Road, Walmer. This is known as Step Kloof, where water descends from cascade to cascade during heavy rain. This area was a very popular picnic spot at the end of the last century. It has an access point from 4th Avenue Walmer. Crossing the next drift, the road approaches the Holland Dam under the cliffs of the main car park. The Lecture-theatre alongside the dam was erected in commemoration of the well-known naturalist Fred Holland. Between the river and Walmer lies Handsfield Valley, an area of bush vegetation with emergent trees. Hidden springs bubble to the surface in this area.
Crossing the wall of the Holland Dam. a turn to the right takes the walker through the popular wood, a narrow strip of these exotic trees lining the river-side. Although not indigenous, these tress provide a welcome, cool walk and nest sits for a number of birds such as the Olive woodpecker. Before the next river crossing, take a turn up the road to the left on to the old Van der Kuil Farm. A number of coral trees (Erythrina Caffra) have been planted over the years to provide a shady canopy between the natural thicket vegetation. Keep to the lawns towards the next drift, but do not cross. Ahead is a wooded slope, at the base of which is a natural area of maidenhair ferns. You are now in Maidens Vale. A small dam lies at the foot of good, indigenous low forest. Turning up the hill away from the river, a road intersects. Both the road rising to the right and the one behind crossing the river lead to Barnes Quarry and the Brickmakers Kloof entrance to the reserve. The small valley to the right (Fernkloof) has a small waterfall, again only in flow in rain season. At the foot of this valley is situated the reserve's nursery with, on the other side of the road, the Bottom Koppie. From there on the route uphill passes through the old Nance Dairy Farm with, on the left, the Top Koppie, which still shows the remains of the old homestead foundations. A lawned area leads downhill back to the Holland Dam, past a collection of cycads. Carry on up the hill to reach the main car-park, passing through a collection of various proteaceae.
Bird-life abounds, with over 120 resident species, and small animals such as grysbok, dassies, hares and mongoose may be seen. Less obvious, by the river, water mongoose, otto, leguaan and terrapin are present.
No dogs allowed
Note: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk.

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SACRAMENTO TRAIL (SARDINIA BAY NATURE RESERVE)
The trail of about 8 km traverses the 320 ha Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve proclaimed in 1980. The walks starts at the west end of Schoenmakerskop and followers the coast to Sardinia Bay, returning via bridle-tracks and a path along the top of the vegetated dunes. The trail is suitable for reasonably fit persons. It is advisable to walk in a group, wear stout shoes and take a sunhat and drinking water.

At Schoenmakerskop a bronze cannon points towards the wreck site of the Portuguese galleon Sacramento, which foundered on 30 June 1647. The 72 survivors who reached the beach set out to walk the 1 300 km back to Mozambique, but only nine reached Delagoa Bay (Maputo), on 5 January 1648, and only four survived to sail back to Goa (Far East). In 1977 local divers salvaged 40 bronze cannon from the wreck, including the one on display.

Behind the cannon a boardwalk leads down to the shore and the trail continues from here to the Sacramento Monument. The small stream is one of several freshwater seepages along this stretch of coast. Two tall white beacons mark the beginning of the Sardinia Bay Marine Reserve. Proclaimed in 1974, this reserve stretches to Bushy Park in the west and covers the area from the high mark to 1 km out to sea. Removal of marine life, including angling, is forbidden.

Sardinia Bay used to be at the source of a 7 000 ha Drift-sands area stretching to Humewood. In the late 1800's the area was stabilized by dumping the city's refuse onto the dunes. Natural processes are continually trying to re-establish the drift-sands and any disturbance of the sensitive pioneer dune vegetation, either by foot, vehicle or animals, could lead to a "blow-out", possibly endangering roads and buildings.

At the far end of the sandy bay, aptly named Cannon Bay, are the ruins of a mill used to crush seashells. Around the headland is a path linking the coastal and top parts of the trail. Take time to enjoy the seascapes in the area. The rocks are of the Table Mountain sandstone group and along this stretch of coast they jut into the sea, creating sheltered gulleys that teem with juvenile fish, while sea-anemones and other marine life cling to the underwater rock-faces. The terrestrial plant community among the rocks has to be able to cope with sea spray and thin soils; Gazania and Tetragonia are among the commoner plants. Out to sea Gannets and dolphins can often be seen.

Sardinia Bay is a popular bathing beach with picnic facilities and a lifesavings and ski boat club. The trail continues along the beach and over the wooden boardwalk across the dunes to the top car-park where there is an ablution block with drinking water. Across the road the route climbs to provide views of the adjacent Sylvic Nature Reserve and Bushy Park to the west. The path now joins Lovers Lane for a short distance, one of a network of bridle-paths in the area, before turning towards the sea to follow the ridge (please do not take short-cuts down to the coastal path). The wind stunts the vegetation so that tress such as the milkwood grow into low bushes and form part of the dense dune scrub. On the plateau, fynbos is becoming established where some of the extensive stands of alien rooikrans and port jackson have been cleared, or were burnt in the December 1997 fire.

Good views of the coastline are obtained from the path and vervet monkeys may be seen. Eventually Joy's Ride is crossed, the route continuing through the fynbos to Schoenmakerskop.

Note: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk.

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VAN DER KEMP'S KLOOF TRAIL (Bethelsdorp Commonage)
 

This circular trail starts at the historic Bethelsdorp Village. Follow the Van Der Kemp's Kloof signs from Stanford Road to Van Der Kemp's Church in main road, where vehicles may be parked at your own risk. The trail is 8km long (three hours) but can be shortened to 4 km. It follows the little Swartkops River into the secluded and scenic Van Der Kemp's Kloof, returning through the grassy fynbos of the Bethelsdorp Commage plateau. The route is marked with red arrows and is suitable for reasonably fit persons. It is advisable to walk in a group, wear stout shoes and take a sunhat and drinking water.

Bethelsdorp Village was established in 1803 by Dr Johannes Theodorus Van Der Kemp, a missionary working among the Khoikhoi. Many of the old building in Bethelsdorp Village are protected by the National Monuments Act. The Almshouse in Water Road, built in 1822 to accommodate the destitute, is a proclaimed national monument. The Church in the village was first built in 1803, but was destroyed by fire in1890. It was rebuilt in 1903 and again in 1926 and extended in1985. Behind the church is the so-called Livingston Cottage, used by visitors to the village. According to the legend, Dr David Livingstone also stayed there. In front of the church is the Market Square with the Mission Bell, erected in 1815.

From the church the trail follows Water Road and goes under the Stanford Road Bridge. Above Stanford Road is the 6km long Van Der Kemp's Kloof, one of six deep, steep-sided valleys cutting into the escarpment in this area. On the left, just above the bride, is the site of an old dam. A fig tree on the opposite bank, known as the Washing Tree, is where the woman used to gather on washing days. Each part of the kloof has a local name. On the first bend, an area known as Klipmuur se Draai, is the first of three boreholes. In the past the community obtained fresh produce and water from the valley, and the remains of stone walls indicate the old agricultural plots. A picnic site and weirs have been developed and there is an ablution block.

The little Zwartkops River flows into the Chatty River, and from there to the Zwartkops. Although the catchments area is small and the riverbed usually dry, occasional flash floods occur, hence the deep channel above the first river crossing. The stones and sand in the walls of the channel were deposited during past floods. The trail continues up the kloof before climbing a ridge. A path marked with a white arrow to the left, just prior to the ridge, joins up with the last part of the trail to make a shorter 4km walk.

At the power lines (where there are often jackal buzzards), the trail turns left and climbs onto the plateau, offering views across to the western suburbs. Several bird species unusual to the Port Elizabeth area can be seen here. Dung Middens are usually the only indication of the mammals inhabiting the bush. On the return route there are periodic views of the kloof, and there is an excellent panorama of the Swartkops valley and Algoa Bay prior to the last steep decent into the kloof.

The trail and picnic site are part of several developments planned for Bethelsdorp Village and the kloof in terms of a master plan that aims to enhance its recreational, educational and conservation status.

NOTE: Use of the area is entirely at your own risk

 
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