The Alexandria Hiking Trail, Woody Cape, Sunshine Coast
The two day hike traverses a part of the largest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere on day 2 – a constantly shifting mass of dunes that is almost completely untouched by human activity and is on the UNESCO ‘tentatives list’ for declaration as a World Heritage Site (which would make 9 for South Africa!)
The entire Alexandria Coastal Dune field has been growing for 6 500 years since the end of the last Ice Age, when the sea level dropped to its present level and left massive amounts of exposed sand. The massive mostly pure non-vegetated dune field covers a surface area of 14000 ha and is comprised of 1800 dunes. It stretches for 50km from the Sundays River Mouth near Port Elizabeth to Woody Cape, and the largest dunes are an incredible 140m high!
To quote the UNESCO site “It is a landscape of outstanding beauty”.
The start and end point of the trail is at the SANParks office in the Woody Cape section of the Addo National Park near the town of Alexandria. The first day of the trail takes you through the lush and pristine coastal vegetation of the protected Alexandria State Forest (Langebos) for approx. 12km, then onto 6km of cliff protected coastline at Woody Cape, where, depending on tide, you can beach-comb and investigate an old ship wreck.
The overnight huts (mattresses only) are on the forested cliff at Woody Cape, and you then set out for the 2nd day of the hike directly onto the dune field. Far from it being a tough walk over bare sand, it is a fascinating early morning landscape in parts criss-crossed by the footprint of nocturnal animals. Tall marker posts will help you find your way through the dune field for 11.5 kms.
The final 5kms of the hike go back through forest to the starting point, where accommodation is available in the Langebos Huts for weary hikers.
This is backpacking trail – all provisions must be carried along with map, compass and bright jacket should anything go wrong and search and rescue have to be called in. No fires are permitted at the stop-over hut at Woody Cape, so take a gas cooker. Groups of up to twelve can be accommodated, and the keys for the huts must be collected at the Addo Park offices. This is not a difficult hike, but it is a challenging walk and will test the unfit.
To find out more and to book: (Tel: +27 (0)41 468 0961)
Getting there: Some confusion may arise from the fact the Woody Cape is part of the Addo National Park; it is, but it is physically separated from the main Addo Park. DON’T go to Addo. It is miles away! Go to Alexandria. Take the R72 from Port Alfred through to Kenton-On-Sea, then on over the Bushman’s River and inland towards Alexandria. Staying on the R72, drive through the town and continue on for a few kms till you see the sign for ‘Addo National Park’ on your left hand side. Turn here into a gravel rd and follow the signs for the offices.
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