Bushwhacking and tramping through the Maitland Nature Reserve

Bushwhacking and tramping through the Maitland Nature Reserve

On Saturday 1st December 2012, a small group of us set off on a trail through the 250 hectare “Maitland Nature Reserve“, which is accessed via the Seaview Main Road to Maitland River Mouth. The reserve comprises dense indigenous coastal forest, abundant birdlife, an old wagon road which leads to Maitland lead mines, a variety of small animals such as bushbuck, and blue duiker as well as the famous giant Maitland sand dunes. Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism organised the walk through the coastal forests and Clyde was our trusty guide. He is a hive of information when it comes to the environment of our metro, he is passionate about nature and always willing to share his knowledge – he is an asset to NMBT.

There are three trails in the reserve:

1.The Peregrine: named after Sir Maitland Peregrine. See his story below* This is a 3 km self-guided trail along the old wagon road

2.De Stades: named after the river in the reserve. This is a 9km long trail and provides a magnificent view of St Francis Bay and Maitland dunes.

3.Igolomi: Xhosa for Knysna Loerie, many of which live in the reserve. The Igolomi is a 4km walk passing through some of the thickest sections of the dense forest.

We chose to walk the 9km trail, the De Stades Trail. The morning was overcast with a fresh breeze to cool us at just the right moments. The trail was hilly and the bush dense was bulging with life and lime green growth. A few welcome breaks along the way eased the breathing and the aching muscles, we all enjoyed a good gym workout! We tramped and bushwhacked through the forest to the sounds of baboons, donkeys and Knysna loeries. We spotted buck and caracul spoor, we also saw a large crab and some stubborn spiders. Fortunately for us all, no snake sightings! Many interesting plants were pointed out to us and discussed – of course we cannot remember one of them! Just when we had all had enough of the climbing, through the clearing before us loomed the magnificent Maitland sand dunes, regally sitting in the foreground of the coastal view of the Maitland River Mouth. Ah, those aches were worthwhile. The downhill homeward bound meander was a joy and to see our cars way down below us was a most welcome sight. We took about 3 and a half hours to complete the De Stades 9km trail, that’s including a few pit stops.

*In 1844, Sir Peregrine Maitland became governor of the Cape of Good Hope, but he was removed during the Xhosa War. He is still highly respected in the Kingdom of Lesotho for his judgment on the border issue between the Orange River Afrikaners and the Basotho of King Moshoeshoe, which, had it been implemented, would have secured the economic future of the kingdom. He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 6 April 1852.

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