Hiking, the best way to explore the Eastern Cape coastline

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FROM game reserves to spectacular views over the ocean and the excitement of feeling truly one with nature – that is what Shipwreck Hiking and Canoe Trails offers the experienced and not so experienced hiker this festive season.

TIME TO RELAX AND SEE NATURE: Shipwreck Hiking and Canoe Trails provides hikers with a new perspective of the Ndlambe coastline

Exploring the part of the Ndlambe coastline that remains unexploited and discovering a whole new world of interest is a great way to see the area, from Port Alfred to the Great Fish River.

The overnight canoe trail leads to the Nyala Game Reserve on the Kleinemonde West River and was started nine years ago, in October 2008.

This trail was initiated by Dave Marais, a vastly experienced hiker who has been involved in hiking for a number of years and was thinking of new hiking ideas along the coast.

“I wanted to bring people into this beautiful coastal area of the Eastern Cape for hiking,” said Marais.

Having devised a plan he made contact with four coastal land owners/farmers between Port Alfred and Fish River.

“These guys had existing huts on their farms,” Marais explained. “We then included the canoe trail into the hiking trail and this gave hikers a great six-day hiking trail, where they paddle up the river on the fourth day to Nyala Game Reserve where they overnight at Lily Pad hut.”

The hikers return the next day. Each overnight hut has an amazing and unique setting, not far from the coastline. Hikers follow the path along the coast and also head inland to a 6m high treehouse built in the yellowwood trees close to the river.

The last hut the hikers reach is named Stone Cottage and was built in 1848.

“The birdlife is prolific both on the river and while hiking through the riverine forest and onto open farm lands,” explained Marais.

With most hikers coming from outside the Eastern Cape, Shipwreck Hiking and Canoe Trails offers accommodation in an old converted farmhouse where they can stay the night before starting the trail.

And, should hikers not be inclined to carry their backpacks, a slack-packing option is available.

Hikers who take this trail come from all provinces and also from overseas with ages ranging from eight to hikers in their 70s.

“And, of course, information on shipwrecks in this area is our speciality, and we supply this to our hikers so they can experience some of the rich history of the area,” said Marais.

“This is a joint venture by everyone involved to bring hiking tourists into this area – local and overseas.”

Shipwrecks Hiking and Canoe Trails offers three hiking options: a four-night / five-day option (excluding canoe trail) where the distance of the hike is 56km. A second option is five-nights / six-days (including canoe trail) with the distances being 64km hiking and 17km paddling. The third option is an overnight canoe trail (including a 8.5km paddle up-river and a 4km hike into the game reserve and returning next day).

Contact  Dave on 082 391 0647 for more information.

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