Things To Do in Van StadensVan Stadens Wildflower Reserve Hikes
Where? Van Staden's Wildflower Reserve, Old Cape Road (R102), Van Stadens, Port Elizabeth
When? Best during daylight hours.
How? Call +27 (0)41 956-0155
How much? Free
More? See website
Start: Van Staden's Wildflower Reserve, 35 km west of Port Elizabeth
Finish: Van Staden's Wildflower Reserve
Duration: 3 and 6 km
Our tip: no need to book and no permit required; even the entrance is free
This 500 hectare flower reserve is described as a 'floral wonderland' for its mix of natural vegetation and cultivated areas, in which the reserve propagates indigenous plants and flowers.
Port Elizabeth describes itself as a 5 Biome City (an unmatched position in the world). The city is a meeting point for five of the seven South African biomes. Van Stadens forest biome is just one of them. Others include Settlers Park's thicket biome, Cape Recife's fynbos biome and Swartkops Aloes Nama Karoo biome.
It is a pretty reserve in which to walk – wooded slopes, a large plateau and river banks produce different and unique fynbos, succulents and accompanying bird life and insects. Proteas in particular are worthy of a stroll, especially when the King protea and pincushions are in flower (May to October).
You can spend hours exploring the fynbos and succulents of the garden simply rambling the paths. Look out for views of Van Stadens Bridge from the reserve.
Arboretum – this is less of a trail and more of a stroll in amongst some of the oldest trees in the reserve.
Fynbos Ramble is a stroll along the edge of the pond.
Bridge Bundu Bash is a quick 1 km trail that winds down to Van Stadens bridge with wonderful views across the gorge. The return is particularly beautiful.
River Trail is a 4 km hike following the north-facing slope of a tributary of the Van Stadens River.
Forest Walk is a 6 km hike through the forest that serves also as a mountain-bike route. Look out for local trees – Atalaya capensis and Sterculia alexandria.
Van Stadens Hike is an 11 km route that combines the River, Forest and Bridge walks in a circular trail. It starts at the Flower House.
Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch for there are a number of picnic areas in the reserve.