Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

About Roseate Tern Hiking Trail

Start: Cape Recife Nature Reserve entrance gate, just off Marine Drive in Summerstrand
Finish: where you started (it’s a circular walk)
Duration: 9 km, no longer than 5 hours
Fitness: this is not a challenging hike, but you do need to be able to go the full 9 km
Our tip: this hike works best if you time it so that you arrive at the lighthouse when it is low tide, giving you access to the little rock pools (great for kids)
Cost: a minor fee (which includes a tour of the penguin rehabilitation centre)
Contact: Samrec (SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre); get a map of the reserve when buying a permit

This is one of Port Elizabeth’s most popular, and beautiful, walks. Best of all, it isn’t difficult. The Roseate Tern Hiking Trail wends its way through the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, regarded as one of the best bird-watching spots in the city.

The hike takes you to the lighthouse, in amongst rocky outcrops and unspoilt beaches. On the initial part of the hike you reach a wooden deck with incredible views out over Algoa Bay. The trail is well marked and it is highly unlikely that you will lose your way. The walk, therefore, is less about navigation than it is about enjoying the beauty of the reserve and the freedom of being in nature.

Partway is a bird hide perfect for watching water birds and waders, and a little way afterwards the trail joins the Bush Pig Trail for a while, before making its way to the black and white striped lighthouse, the first lighthouse built in the Eastern Cape in 1851.

If you’ve managed to time your arrival with low tide then the pools on the beach are filled with sea anemones, urchins and starfish. Oystercatchers and terns (hence the name of the hike), particularly the rare Roseate tern, nest along this stretch of the beach. It is a good space, provided the wind isn’t up, to spend a while and perhaps eat a picnic.

The trail explores several beautiful beaches and old military barracks which offer great views over the bay. The circular trail heads back to the entrance gate.

Need to Know

WhereStart and finish at the Cape Recife Nature Reserve entrance gate, just off Marine Drive, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth

WhenDaylight hours.

How muchPrices on request.

Telephone+27 (0)41 583-1830

OvernightThe closest town is Summerstrand, in Eastern Cape

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