Looking for something to do over the next few weeks? Get a group of friends together, pack a picnic, and head out to the magnificent Alexandria Forest, part of the Woody Cape section of Addo, to see some of the local orchids which are flowering now.

As a bonus, it doesn’t really matter if the wind is blowing, as you are protected in the forest.

Start early and drive via the stunning Golden Mile route past lush green dairy farms until you
crest the hill and see the ground slope away to the sea with Bird Island off the coast and the
giant Woody Cape sand dunes stretching away into the distance. The road curves and takes
you through the Alexandria Forest. After driving from Kenton for about 40 minutes you will
see the Woody Cape office turnoff on your left. Pay for your permit (the office opens at
7.00am and permits are R94 for South Africans – take your ID). It’s good to try and start
walking by 8.30am or earlier.

The Dassie trail is a circular well-marked trail leaving from the Woody Cape office. The first
1,5 to 2 kms or so is on a long but smooth uphill on a grassed path taking you into the forest
proper. Once you crest the hill start looking out for the orchids growing alongside the path.
Once you see one, your senses adjust and suddenly you will see them in the trees along the
path. There are several species flowering now with more to come in December. There is lots
else to see – colourful fungi, knobwoods, twisted lianas and plenty of mosses, and if you are
lucky, bushbuck. The path turns downhill through the forest and just beyond the halfway
mark you come to a clearing of big yellowwoods, which is a good place to stop for your
picnic. Listen out for the prolific birdcalls and look up into the giant yellowwoods whose high
branches are covered in orchids and ferns. From here on, the path is a gentle walk back to
the office taking you past probably the biggest erythrinas you will ever see, a quaint bridge,
big old local gardenias covered with their hard large seedpods and strangler figs slowly
engulfing some of the other trees with their strangely patterned roots.

Useful information on Woody Cape:
Landline: 041-329 0226 from 07h30 – 15h00
Mobile: 071 563 2115
The permit office is operational from 07h00 – 15h00 daily, and trails are closed when it rains.
Cash only due to the signal issues that do not allow for speed points currently.
If you’re interested in booking an overnight trail and accommodation, contact Matyholweni Rest Camp at 041 468 0916 or Matyholweni@sanparks.org.

GO HOME VIA THE SHORTER ALEXANDRIA ROUTE where you may want to visit the QUIN SCULPTURE GARDEN. The garden boasts a collection of more than 100 sculptures, paintings and sketches on view. Enjoy as many cups of tea / coffee / lemon syrup as you like under the jacaranda tree.

Find them at 5 Suid Street, Alexandria and their contact no is 082 770 8000.

Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 9am – 4 30pm and Saturday: 9am – 1pm. Saturday afternoon and Sunday by prior arrangement only. A nominal entry fee is charged. Images supplied by Quin Sculpture Garden.

Pop in to THE LUNCH BOX in Alexandria. Open 7 days a week! Trading hours are Monday – Saturday from7am-8pm and on 8am-3pm on Sundays. Delicious homemade pies, samoosas and takeaways. Takeaway breakfasts and freshly brewed Italian coffee. Burger special on Fridays & milkshakes special every Sunday. Contact Tanya and her team on 074 344 6475/ 046 653 0495.

Image credit: The Lunch Box

We are so lucky to live close to one of the last patches of big coastal forest. Do yourself a favour and experience itself for yourself.

Special thanks to M Griffiths & J Bowen for the photos and to J Bowen for the written account.

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