While walking has long been known for its health benefits – lowered blood-pressure, improved cognition, eased back-pain and more – it’s also a great way to explore while travelling. And it’s hard to imagine a better place to do that than Southern Africa in Spring.
Shaun Pozyn Head of Marketing, Loyalty and Customer Experience at kulula.com suggests the following walks this season.
Cape Town has no shortage of walks, but a popular one is between Muizenberg and St James: the concrete boardwalk presents the beauty of False Bay at sea-level. Nearby, waves break, surfers surf and dolphins, whales and seals are a common sight. If you continue south you’ll reach Kalk Bay, with its many shops, like Kalk Bay Books as well as eateries and shops selling all manner of stuff, old and new.
Pozyn’s tip: wood-fired pizza at Octopus’s Garden in the old St James post office building has eclectic, quirky and bohemian décor, and a big play area for kids.
If you’re feeling a little more energetic, Cape Point Nature Reserve offers a variety of walks, including an easy amble to some of the many shipwrecks on this ruggedly beautiful coastline. Having channelled your inner beachcomber, you can restore blood-sugar levels at the newly refurbished Two Oceans Restaurant overlooking Cape Point, which has 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor. Guests have lauded its seafood, although vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
Spring is a good time to explore Cape Point’s many walking trails: it may not have the profusion of flowers that you’d see up the West Coast, but the area explodes with colour nevertheless, a reminder that the Cape floristic region contains around 9 600 species, most of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Durban’s Green Corridor networkoffers a variety of walks to explore the city’s nature and culture, with walks ranging from 2km to more than 25km. You can discover, for example, the biodiversity of the mangroves along the uMgeni River. Once you’re in the Beachwood Mangrove Reserve, wildlife – including fiddler crabs, mudskippers and even crocodiles – abounds.
In Yellowwood Park, the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve offers walks in 250 hectares of coastal bush, where you can see a variety of antelope, including zebra, impala and bushbuck, as well as richly varied flora and bird-life.
If you prefer your walks a little more urban, the pedestrianised beachfront offers around 6km of flat strolling with more than enough outlets offering coffee, ice-cream, cocktails and meals for walkers needing sustenance. At Bike & Bean www.bikeandbeandurban.com you can take a break from walking, hire a bicycle and cruise the beachfront, then return for caffeine, snacks and conversation.
Port Elizabeth’s Donkin Heritage Trail offers 51 points of interest on an easy 5km walk that includes cathedrals, art galleries and historic sites.
King’s Beach extends nearly 2km from the harbour wall to Humewood and invites long, sandy strolls and playing at the beachfront super-tubes and in the warm sea. There’s an open-air market on Sundays. You can explore rock-pools at Hobie Beach, which also has beach-volleyball festivals.
Further along Marine Drive, the village of Schoenmakerskop, where pods of dolphins are often spotted offshore. Nearby is Sardinia Bay, where the 8km Sacramento hiking trail starts.
The trail winds through coastal bush and is popular with visitors and locals. If all that sounds like thirsty work, a visit to Bridge Street Brewery www.bridgestreet.co.za on the banks of the Baakens River should refresh the thirstiest of travellers.
It’s run by near-legendary brewer Lex Mitchell – he founded Mitchell’s Brewery – and offers four beers and a few ciders, with tapas and pub grub in the small restaurant.