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ALEXANDRIA HIKING TRAIL
On foot through the coastal forests and dunes of the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park. What is it? A two-day, 36km, circular trail through the forests, over the dunes and along the beaches of a remote part of the Eastern Cape. Attractions The first day is 19km long and winds through ancient coastal forests, home to huge yellow woods and Knysna turacos (louries). Spend the night in a comfortable log cabin in the forest on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean and Bird Island. The last day is 16.5km over one of the most spectacular dune fields in the Southern Hemisphere, before diving back into the coastal forest and eventually reaching the Langvlakte valley, where a chicory stack built in the early nineteenth century by British settlers, can be seen.
It’s a two-day trail with the option of spending the first and last night at the base camp at Woody Cape. The Alexandria Trail isn’t easy, with long daily distances and the fact you have to carry all your provisions with you. Spend two (or even three) nights in the overnight hut on the trail. Hike in, chill on the deserted beach for the day, then hike out.
Devote a couple of days to Addo proper after your hike – wall-to-wall elephants, too many warthogs, flightless dung beetles and more. What you need No fires are allowed at the Woody Cape hut and hikers must carry their own cookers. Water is only for drinking and cooking as the hut relies on rainwater. It costs R85 per person per night, plus a daily conservation fee of R25. Contact 041 468 0916/8 or visit www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/tourism/activities.php
Map Reading Made Easy
Most hiking trails supply basic maps. And by “basic” we mean a couple of lines, a circle for a dam and some triangles for mountains. It’s as if they want you to get lost. But that’s not going to stop you from running, riding or hiking your trail. Follow our basic rules for navigating any map – and avoid asking for directions, ever.
You need to line your map up with the help of landmarks, hills, rivers and dams. Study the map, your present position and surroundings carefully and then turn it (sometimes upside down) so everything lines up.
To understand the map and plot a course, you need to accurately estimate distance. Compare the width of your thumb with the scale of the map, then translate how much one thumb-width would become (for example one thumb width equals 500m).
Estimate (generously) the time it will take you to walk a certain distance by using the (hopefully included) contour lines on the map.