Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail – Garden Route Short Hike
Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail – A Short Coastal Walk
After living in Cape Town for pretty much all of my adult life, Belinda and I made the decision to move to the Garden Route. There were personal reasons for the move, but it was also a good move work wise. As a member of the SAPSTAP Hiking Club, I set about identifying short hikes that the club could host on Wednesday afternoons. This meant driving around and talking to fellow hikers to get ideas on where to look for good ‘short hike’ options in the Southern Cape. There were slim pickings in the beginning as each person I spoke to only knew of one or two hikes, but when I put all the suggestions together, a rather decent looking list started to take shape.
For the first hike, I needed a fairly flat and not so strenuous hike so that I didn’t scare anyone away if any newcomers decided to join us. Of the 3 or 4 short hikes that I managed to do in the first two months living in Garden of Eden, the Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail ticked most of the boxes. While not the most scenic hike around, it is a short, relatively easy ‘out and back’ route that takes you to the beach and it’s dog friendly!
How to get there
The Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail is located on the main road into Buffalo Bay that runs off the N2 Highway between Sedgefield and Knysna. The start of the trail is located opposite the first parking lot on the right after the entrance to the Goukamma Nature Reserve. Look out for the Buffalo Bay Trail head sign on the left directly opposite the parking area.
The Speedy Review
This is a family, child and dog-friendly trail that takes you to the main Buffalo Bay beach from 2 km out. It is a short,but relatively popular ‘out and back’ trail that winds through coastal vegetation to the beach. In July and August you will have a good chance to spot a few whales in the bay.
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints, because she hasn’t had a chance to do this hike yet, but there were a few dogs on the trail when I did it and they were all having a great time!
The Nitty Gritty
After a false start, where I unintentionally started this hike in the middle, I got to redo this hike on 28 July 2019 and again on 07 August 2019.
The trailhead is situated at the tar road and begins with a stretch of beach sand that takes you up a few wooden log staircases. Unfortunately, the staircases were badly constructed and are held in place by thick wire that poses a tripping hazard to hikers. I do understand that beach sand is not the material to hold wooden poles together, but I am not sure who came up with the wire ‘solution’ or what that person was thinking. You will need to exercise caution when using these staircases and there are quite a few of them on the trail. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to use the trail stats and information that I gathered on my hike on the 28th of July 2019.
I started at about 11h10, and ploughed my way through the soft white beach sand and up the higgledy-piggledy wired wooden staircases. The route is mostly open and exposed to the elements and it was turning out to be a rather warm day, despite the weather forecast. A few mousebirds were sunning themselves in the coastal bush lining the trail. The trail then intersected with one of the gravel roads inside the Buffelskop Caravan Park. There was a small hikers sign that pointed to the left and up toward the Vodacom Cell Tower. I reached the tower after just 10 minutes on the trail and walked to the left of the tower and down the makeshift wired wooden pole staircase into a thicket.
At 11h22, and after a walking distance of 622 m, the trail took me past a cement bench on the left of the path and the ground started to darken and firm up. The trail then becomes an undulating path through the coastal thicket which provided a little bit of welcome shade. The trail kept heading in the direction of the sea.
After another 10 minutes, the trail took an unexpected turn to the left, away from the sea, up and out of the thicket and out into the open (1.27 km). The trail then wound its way through the fire damaged coastal vegetation and slowly turned toward the sea again, with the final stretch taking me down to the last descent on to the sandy beach. Before I walked down this last section, my attention was drawn to the surf line in the bay, where two whales playing. I couldn’t make out what they were, but I’m guessing they were either humpback whales or perhaps Southern Right whales. It really didn’t matter to me what kind of whales they were, as I counted myself lucky just to see two of these huge graceful creatures, so close to the shore.
After watching the whales frolic in the waves, I made my way down on to the beach and sat down at 11h50. The outward section of this hike was about 2.09 km and had taken me about 40 minutes.
After a quick minute or two, I headed back along the same trail and ended up back at the start at about 12h25 with a total hiking distance of 4.19 km.
The Stats – Buffalo Bay Trail
The total hiking stats for this day hike, according to my Garmin GPSMap64S, were as follows:
|Total Distance||4.19 km|
|Total Time Taken||01h15|
|Max Speed||5.8 km/h|
|Moving Average||4.0 km/h|
|Overall Average||3.2 km/h|
|Elevation Loss||160 m|
|Temperature||7°C / 17°C|