Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve

Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve may be tiny, but it packs superb diversity and scenic surrounds into a compact 600ha space. Good news is that this Eastern Cape conservation gem now boasts a mountain bike trail as well, and that it is perfect for family outrides.
FAST FACTS BLOCK
Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve MTB Route
GRADING:Easy
DURATION:45min – 2 hrs
DISTANCE:
4-10km
CONFIGURATION:Circular & Return Options
TERRAIN:Gravel roads, jeep-track and cut singletrack
FACILITIESParking area, visitor centre, tuck shop and restrooms
GPS COORDINATES:33° 54′ 26.68″ S / 25° 13′ 6.89″ E
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:Free entry
MAPPrinted maps from Reception
CELL RECEPTIONGood signal on all trails
BEWARE OF:Hikers, birders and trail runners – the trails are multi-use

                                                                       – Photographs & Copy: Jacques Marais

 

Local Buzz:

Fun Fact: the Garden Route officially starts just 35km west of Gqeberha. Yup, it’s true, and the dinky reserve nestling here upon the edge of Van Stadens gorge encompasses what is considered by many as the easternmost corner of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

This captivating sanctuary – often hailed as a ‘floral wonderland’ – is an accessible and secure escape from the nearby city. More and more travellers – seeking to recharge mind and body and pause their journey towards or from Cape Town – find precious moments of tranquillity here as they connect with Mother Nature within this peaceful space.

Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve is a paradise for a stopover, and visitors are able to fully immerse into a natural tapestry woven together from three diverse habitats. Biomes include exceptional fynbos stands, indigenous southern wooded slopes and dense riverine woodland, each boasting its very own unique botanical character.

’Friends of Van Stadens’ (FOVS) organisation is the foundation stone upon which the natural integrity of this conservation destination is based. Their core mission is to educate local communities, and also the preservation and proliferation of the region’s endemic botanical treasures, including the Sterculia alexandrii and a host of other unique species – more info on their FACEBOOK Page.

It is this breathtaking beauty and rich biodiversity that draws outdoor lovers to Van Stadens, allowing them to actively engage with the natural habitat. The trail system is a perfect way to get up close and personal with the vibrant proteas, resilient succulents, and enchanting grassland and restios species.

Mountain bikers, bird watchers, hikers and trail runners are free to traverse the plateau section of the reserve, revelling in the accessible terrain and breathtaking vistas. It is not just about biking, though, so take your time and bring a camera and binoculars, because a magical experience awaits right here.

More info at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100095702585266


On the bike

Mountain biking in Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve gives riders a unique opportunity to traverse the diverse ecosystems, all while indulging in the stoke that comes packaged with the combo of jeep-track and singletrack trails. The reserve features a short but varied network of routes catering to mountain bikers of all levels, but is especially suited to beginners or families who want to enjoy group outrides.

Beginners can keep things laid-back on the well-marked reserve roads meandering through stands of indigenous proteas and ericas, or take a breather at the bird hide or the banks of one of the numerous ponds. The trails are accessible for an easy and gentle flow into this exhilarating sport, allowing you to build both confidence and skill while soaking up the hidden secrets of Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve.

For more experienced riders seeking a challenge, there is a selection of moderately technical trails to explore. Most of these multi-use routes traverse the rugged edge of the gorge and are more suited to trail runners or hikers and will reward them with jaw-dropping vistas and occasional wildlife sightings.

Access to quality maps, visible and well-positioned trail signage, and map boards placed at key points in the reserve make this a top choice for beginner riders from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal area. Your total trail distance comes to approximately 10km, but it is easy enough to mix and match along the comprehensive range of route options to extend your outing to two or even three hours.

Even better: you have both the Woodridge Trails (around 10km) and the prime routes offered by the extensive ‘3 Rivers Trails’ network adjacent to Van Stadens. The latter MTB destination offers access to more than a 100km of riding, linking seamlessly between the wildflower reserve, Woodridge College and the expansive Longmore Forest plantations – check out www.3riverstrails.co.za

Enough chit-chat: get your kit on, saddle up and crank off from the Reception at Flower House – the natural high you’ll get from all the ozone in the fresh mountain air is guaranteed! Remember to take some water and sunscreen, because it does get hot here in summer (and you had better watch those thunderstorms)! Winters are chilly, so rain gear and a wind-shell is a must.

Take a look here – https://youtu.be/AWnaXRtABSw?si=DbeYknmc5CeDNhMQ

Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve on Trailforks.com


Off the bike

No bike, no problem! This ‘secret’ little wilderness reserve on the urban edge caters for all members of the outdoor tribe, with enough space to connect with Mother Nature on all levels.

Hiking and Nature Walks: Explore the reserve on half a dozen stunning hiking trails, and enjoy the scenic beauty and diverse botany proliferating within the three conjoined biomes. Stay mindful as you stroll through indigenous montane forest dotted with giant podocarpus yellowwood trees, or along the walking paths meandering amidst stands of sugarbush and king protea. Our Van Stadens Wildflower Garden is an integral part of the reserve and showcases a variety of indigenous plants

Photography and Birdwatching: Van Stadens is a paradise for nature photographers, so bring your macro lens to capture magical close-ups of wildflowers and insects, or revel in the geology, Khoekhoen culture and magnificent landscapes. The reserve is a favourite with birding enthusiasts from around the globe and boasts an exceptional species list, from Knysna Turaco and African Olive Pigeon to the vibrant paradise flycatchers and multiple sunbird variants. You could even just pack a picnic basket and relax at one of our designated picnic spots while soaking up the magnificent views :-)

Go do it!

Day Trips: Explore nearby attractions such as the historic Van Stadens Bridge, with breathtaking views of the gorge below, or venture 30km east to the city of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) for some of South Africa’s top wildlife, ocean and cultural experiences. The Addo Elephant National Park is internationally renowned for it’s big game viewing, and the only major destination in Africa to offer the ‘Big 7’ (including whales and sharks). Jeffreys Bay is only 20min away, too, and is home to one of the world’s most famous waves. Surf culture runs deep at these breaks where the epic ‘Endless Summer’ movie was filmed, with superb surf schools, legendary board shapers and point breaks of note.

Best time of year: The weather is generally fine year-round; the warmest months are December to early April, but the rest of the year brings mild and cool weather with colder conditions – as well as the potential of rain – during June to August.

How to get there – from the N2 highway, take Exit 710 and turn west onto Van Stadens Pass Road. Continue for a couple of kilometres until you see the entrance to the reserve.

   

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