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Aloe Trail

Eastern Cape > Port Elizabeth > Blue Water Bay

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The Aloe trail is a breath-taking experience that will leave nature lovers and more specifically birdwatchers in awe. The circular route of the trail takes hikers through the escarpment overlooking Amsterdamhoek and the Swartkops Estuary and returns through the mesmerising valley bushveld on the plateau.

Important Information:

Please remember that this is a Nature Reserve:
- All plant and animal life is protected and must not be disturbed or harmed.
- Please keep on the trail at all times.
- Be vigilant. Minimum number four persons is recommended as a safety precaution.
- Please do not smoke or light fires while on the trail
- Dogs on a leash are allowed.
- Do not litter.
- Carry at least two litres of drinking water per person.
- For reservation and general enquiries please contact: Reserve Manager: George Branford on +27 (0) 82 522 0298 or Carl Welgemoed +27 (0) 84 299 6299.
- In case of emergency while on the trail, please contact the Reserve Manager or 10111.
- Alternative loops can be used to return to starting points.


A stunning display of Aloe plugins awaits hikers at the start of the trail during June/July, attracting the delightful sunbirds. From the top of the escarpment, the breathtaking views of the Zwartkops estuary and the surrounding area are awe-inspiring.

The Aloe Trail comprises two trails, the 2km Pluridens Trail and a longer 5km Lineata Trail. The Trails start at the top of Tippers Creek Road, between Amsterdamhoek and Bluewater Bay. The trail route goes via the escarpment overlooking Amsterdamhoek, returning through Valley Thicket on the plateau. Amsterdamhoek is named after a Dutch man-of-war, the Amsterdam, which ran aground near the mouth of the Swartkops River on 16 December 1817.

The dense, thorny, succulent and stunted vegetation known as Valley Thicket seen along the trail has adapted to the arid climate by different species storing water in leaves, stems or underground bulbs. Aloe pluridens found mainly at the start of the trail make a stunning show when in flower during June/July and attract many sunbirds. Spekboom, Portulacaria afra, prolific in this reserve, is remarkable for absorbing Carbon dioxide (CO2) day and night.

Formerly the bush supported herds of game animals, including Elephants, as evidenced by the series of elephant wallows which can be seen on the trail as bush-free depressions that hold water after good rains. Estuaries are amongst the most productive ecosystems on earth where salt marsh vegetation provides food for mud prawn and other invertebrates living in the intertidal mudbanks, these animals in turn provide a food source for birds and fi sh.

The trail in places follows old game-tracks worn down several centimetres below the level of the surrounding ground, over the centuries, by the passing animals. Note how the removal of the valley bushveld binding the clay slopes caused widespread erosion and also how the vegetation has adapted to withstand the dry conditions, different species storing water in leaves, stems or underground bulbs.

Other plants have tough, leathery leaves that do not lose much moisture, and many have thorns to protect them from grazing animals. Grysbok are common, whereas bushpig and the rare blue duiker are seldom seen.


- Tippers Garden and Hunting Dog Graves: In 1891 some of the land in Amsterdam Hoek was sold to Loton Tipper, James Green and Nelson Pearson. On retirement Tipper and his wife lived permanently at “the Hoek”. He built two wood-and-iron homes, the second uphill from the water in what is now Tipper’s Creek Road. Above the house there was a garden, now part of the Aloe Reserve, and here the graves of hunting dogs are still visible.

- Birdwatching: About 200 species are regularly recorded in the lower Swartkops Valley. Allow 3 hours to bird the estuary (low tide is essential), saltpans and some of the bush from the roads, when 60 species can be expected. Estuary birds are best seen at low tide. The salt pans between Swartkops and Redhouse are good for a variety of water birds including fl amingos. To adequately cover all the areas requires a long morning and can produce 100 species in summer and is one of the “must see” birding venues in the area.

- The Wallows: Formerly this bush supported many game animals, including elephant. The only remaining evidence of the presence of these large mammals is well-worn game tracks and the old wallows. The trail passes through a series of these wallows which can be seen as bush-free depressions that hold water after good rains.

- Trig Beacons: There are three Trig Beacons on the Aloe Trail that form part of the National Control Survey Network which helped to make accurate map-making possible across the country. If you climb one you will see it has a horizontal coordinate and a height marked on top.

Plant and animals

Top Fauna:
• Puff Adder
• Southern Harvester Termite
• Angulate Tortoise
• Blue Duiker
• Grey-winged Francolin

Top Flora:
• Varied Euphorbia Species
• Red-spined Aloe
• Cat Tigerfig (Faucaria)
• Water Clover (Marsilea)
• Karoo Boer-boon
Click Here To Download the Aloe Trail Hiking Trail Map

Contact / ReservationsAloe Trail

Alternatively contact the TOURISM call centre on +27 (0) 41 585 8884


Latitude : -33° 51' 10.99" S | Longitude : 25° 37' 22.10" E


Groups Accepted Yes
Car Parking Available Yes
Day Visitors Allowed Yes


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