A new and map of the St. Blaize Hiking Trail has been published by the Garden Route Casino Trust.
“The St. Blaize Trail is one of Mossel Bay’s most enduring attractions, and the Trust has been funding and facilitating rehabilitation work on it since 2008 for the benefit of the community and the natural environment,” said Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm.
“The map was produced as part of Phase Four of the project by trustee Sandra Falanga, with the help of Lucretia van der Walt and the surveying firm of van der Walt & Visagie.
“On top of this, a number of dedicated individuals have recently spent much of their own time marking the Trail with the sign of the Oystercatcher, and helping to prepare it for the holiday season.”
Ms. Holm said that the 13.5 km trail stretches from the St. Blaize Cave (in the cliff beneath the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse) to Dana Bay, and that it usually takes about 6 hours to complete.
“It’s a moderately strenuous walk, and you do need a degree of fitness if you want to do the whole thing – but there’s nothing stopping you from walking a few kilometres, and then returning to your car.”
There’s ample parking at the Cave, and at Dana Bay.
The Trail follows the 30 metre contour above the coastal cliffs, and, besides magnificent views and interesting stands of fynbos, offers good bird watching and excellent prospects for sighting whales or dolphins.
“M.Sc. student Bridget James and the Mossel Bay Cetacean Project (which is run by Oceans Research and the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria) have been observing whales and dolphins for almost two years now – and they’ve got hard data to show that Mossel Bay plays host to relatively large numbers of bottlenose dolphins, a small population of humpback dolphins, and southern right, Bryde’s and humpback whales at different times of the year,” said Ms. Holm.
“But we also know that orcas (or killer whales) may be seen offshore, and that even pygmy and dwarf sperm whales may occur here – although both of these rare, offshore species are known locally only from specimens that have washed up on the beach.”
Ms. Holm said that it is important to wear strong shoes, a hat and sun-block, and to carry water when hiking the St. Blaize Trail. “You should also not hike alone, and children should not hike unaccompanied,” she said.
“For walkers who want to hike the entire distance, three local companies – All Aboard Tours and Safaris, Back Road Safaris, and Northernhaye Tours – offer road shuttle services that will fetch you at your destination, and return you to your car.”
She said that the new map contains emergency information, details of what is and isn’t allowed on the Trail, and the phone numbers of the shuttle services.
“The map is available from Mossel Bay Tourism, on the corner of Church and Market Streets, opposite the Dias Museum Complex,” said Ms. Holm.
The map can also be downloaded from www.visitmosselbay.co.za/adventures/st-blaize-hiking-trail.