Tucked away in the south-western part of the region, just east of the bustling Port Elizabeth, lies a haven of biodiversity and untouched beauty – the Woody Cape Nature Reserve. Not only is it a unique and enchanting piece of South Africa’s natural heritage, but it also holds the distinction of being a section of the renowned Addo Elephant Park. As if that weren’t enough to entice nature lovers, it’s also home to the Alexandria Trail, a two-day hiking experience that promises a close encounter with the region’s varied flora and fauna.
A Haven of Diverse Landscapes
What makes the Woody Cape Nature Reserve particularly striking is its expansive 25,000 hectares, which ranges from lightly undulating plains to flat terrains. But, the showstopper has to be the Alexandria coastal dune fields. For those in the know, this is no ordinary dune system. It’s a young and rapidly expanding set of dunes, standing as one of the most expansive active coastal dunes in the world.
Nestled amidst these majestic dunes is the Alexandria Forest, a stretch of short coastal forest that paints a green hue against the backdrop of golden sand. This forest is not only a sight to behold but is also known and loved locally.
A Burst of Wildlife
The Woody Cape Nature Reserve isn’t just about breathtaking landscapes. It’s also a haven for numerous mammals and birds, making it a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts. As you tread lightly on its trails, you might just catch a glimpse of the bushpig, bushbuck, or the Cape Grysbok, to name a few. It’s not unusual to see the playful Vervet monkey or the stealthy grey mongoose as they go about their day.
For bird watchers, the reserve is a true paradise. With the trumpeter hornbill marking the westernmost edge of its population here, it’s a sight to see. Other avian wonders include the crowned hornbills, majestic crowned eagles, the elusive Stanley’s bustard, the vibrant narina trogon, and the swift Damara tern.
Plan Your Visit
If you’re coming from Port Elizabeth, simply follow the N2 towards Grahamstown. After about 56 km, turn right onto the R72, heading towards Kenton on Sea. As you reach Alexandria, a gravel road leading to the Alexandria Forest will beckon. This road traces the northern boundary of the eastern segment of the reserve and is comfortably navigable for most vehicles.
Woody Cape Nature Reserve is more than just a nature spot. It’s a testament to South Africa’s commitment to preserving its rich biodiversity and offering an immersive experience for those who seek the wild. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a bird enthusiast, or someone simply seeking tranquility, the reserve has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to explore this gem on your next visit to the region.
Popular activities, tourist attractions and points of interest and near Woody Cape Nature Reserve
The Woody Cape Nature Reserve and its surroundings offer a myriad of activities and attractions to cater to diverse interests.
The Alexandria Trail
This 2-day hiking trail takes enthusiasts on an unforgettable journey through coastal forests, dunes, and scenic beach stretches.
Bird Watching Trails
Specifically designed for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts, these trails offer the opportunity to spot the unique bird species of the area.
The pristine beaches at Woody Cape are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and even horse riding. The long stretches of golden sands make for an idyllic setting, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Given the massive dunes in the region, sandboarding has become a popular adventure activity for those looking for an adrenaline rush.
Alexandria Interpretation Centre
Learn about the local history, flora, and fauna of the Woody Cape area. This centre provides insights into the conservation efforts and the significance of the ecosystems within the reserve.
Diving and Snorkeling
The clear waters around Woody Cape offer diving and snorkeling opportunities. Dive sites are rich in marine life, offering glimpses of colorful corals, fish, and other sea creatures.
For those who prefer a quiet day by the water, the coastal sections of Woody Cape provide excellent spots for recreational fishing.
Addo Elephant National Park
A short drive away, this park is home to the densest population of African elephants. Besides, you can spot buffalos, lions, leopards, and rhinos.
Shipwreck Hiking Trail
Explore the stories of old shipwrecks along the coast, offering a mix of history and scenic beauty.
A historical point of interest, this cross commemorates the landing of the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz in 1488.
Accommodations and Camping
Woody Cape offers a range of accommodations, from luxury lodges to rustic camping sites. Staying overnight gives tourists a chance to experience the nocturnal sounds and sights of the reserve.
Local guides offer tours which can be a great way to understand the ecological importance, history, and stories associated with the reserve. They can also help spot wildlife and birds that might be missed otherwise.
The roads leading to and around Woody Cape, especially the R72, offer breathtaking views of the coastline, dunes, and surrounding landscapes.
Woody Cape Nature Reserve isn’t just about untouched beauty and wildlife; it’s a hub of activities that can engage, educate, and entertain every traveler. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Woody Cape and its surroundings promise a memorable experience.