Oh hey summer, didn’t see you there…and neither did my body. It was autumn like an hour ago, but it’s fine. It’s summer now. I’ll be okay. Ahem……
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Summer is around the corner, and you’re fat and broke. Great! But don’t worry, we have put together a list of some free outdoor activities in Port Elizabeth to get you fit and looking great before the summer season.
- GET YOUR RUN ON, ALONG THE BEACHFRONT PROMENADE
Probably the most obvious choice, but it’s obvious for a reason…because it’s obviously great… and you’re missing out. Even if you don’t run it, at least use it!! From Kings beach to the Beacon Lighthouse and back is about 8km in distance. The route is flat and easy, not to mention beautiful and vibrant! Run, walk, cycle, skate …just get out there and grab some fresh sea air! The walkway is also well lit at night, which makes it perfect for any time of the day!
- JOIN THE JOL AT THE HOBIE BEACH PARK RUN
Not so keen on the lonely aspect of exercising outdoors? Why not join 650 other people at the Port Elizabeth Park Run every Saturday at 08:00. The 5km course is run on a mixture of brick paths, concrete paths, wood decking and sand. It starts at Hobie Beach and is completely free. All you have to do is register once off at http://www.parkrun.co.za/pehobiebeach/
- HIKE UP LADY’S SLIPPER
We too, Cape Town, have a mountain! And we like to call it, Lady’s Slipper. Yes, it’s not as obvious as your table, but our slipper is there, if you squint and tilt your head a bit. And for those who say it’s not in the city….it’s only a 15-20 minute drive from Port Elizabeth…it takes you longer to get to your moms house, so no excuses. This beautiful 3km trail boasts rocky peaks, pristine fynbos, magnificent quartzite outcrop and breathtaking views of the Van Stadens River Mouth and wind farm.
The trail will take an hour and a half to two hours up and down. A permit is required, costing R20 per person, and is obtainable at Highbrae Camp & Climb, or at Falcon Rock, the property to the west of Highbrae. Safe parking is available at both of these venues (http://www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/lady%E2%80%99s-slipper-trail)
We suggest a cold one at the Falcon Rock restaurant to celebrate at the end.. Might not be good for the diet, but don’t act like you weren’t going to indulge over the weekend anyways. Now it’s just well deserved.
- MEANDER INTO THE CAPE RECIFE NATURE RESERVE
Just because it’s called a reserve does not mean it’s reserved for only a select few! Everybody is welcome in and amongst this beautiful nature reserve. If you own a bicycle, why not cycle along the beachfront all the way into the Cape Recife Nature Reserve. A 9 km circular walking/cycling trail starts at the entrance gate of the Nature Reserve and offers beautiful unspoilt beaches, natural dune vegetation, rocky outcrops, a lighthouse built in 1851, an old military observation post, as well as a bird hide. (http://www.nmbt.co.za/listing/cape_recife_nature_reserve.html#sthash.HHdb3u1l.dpuf)
- SWEAT IT OUT AT THE KINGS BEACH OUTDOOR GYM
So you are really into the gym thing, and when people talk about exercising outdoors, all you think is running/cycling. WRONG. The Mandela Bay Development Agency recently spent an impressive estimate of R42-million in revamping the Kings Beach beachfront to ensure that it is more aesthetically pleasing, safe and entertaining. One of the new additions is a small but impressive outdoor gym. You can definitely get your summer body ready by using the gym structures in this park. From situps, to step ups, to push ups, pull ups, leg raises and much more. They even have sign boards explaining the exercises as well as starching for afterwards (http://www.sa-venues.com/things-to-do/easterncape/kings-beach/)
- TRAIL RUN THROUGH THE BAAKENS VALLEY
Who ever said you have to travel miles out the city to do a decent trail run, clearly doesn’t live in PE. Also known as The Lower Guinea-Fowl Trail, This 7.5 kilometre long trail runs through the valley that bisects the city of Port Elizabeth, making it easy to access and convenient for day-trippers. It extends from the Third Avenue Dip in Glen Hurd to Settlers Park. Not many cities can claim that they have a trail run right in the middle of their city!
- TACKLE THE DONKIN HERITAGE TRAIL
Trail running doesn’t just mean bush-wacking through nature, sometimes, just sometimes, it means dominating all the urban obstacles your city has to offer! The Donkin Heritage Trail is a 5km route that links 51 places of historical interest in the old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth.
The 1820 Settler history and architectural delights of the historical central city can be explored at leisure on a self-guided walking tour. Don’t attempt the Campanile unless you’re feeling particularly sprightly, as the spiral staircase entails 204 steps – well worth conquering if only for the views over Algoa Bay.
Download an A4 printable Donkin Heritage Trail Map here
- BIKE THE MOUNTAINS OF HOPEWELL
So right now you’re probably thinking “If I don’t live at the beachfront/inner city, I will be fat forever.” Wrong. Let’s move away from these areas for a while and take a look at Hopewell Conservation Estate just outside PE on R102. 40km of purpose built singletrack for mountain-biking! The trails take riders through a various biomes, ranging from different types of grassy fynbos through to valley bushveld in the kloofs and northern section of the property. The topography ranges from open plains to undulating hills and technical sections with more demanding climbs and descents, catering for all ability levels. (http://www.hopewellconservation.co.za/)
- READY, SET, SACRAMENTO, GO!
This trail is 8 kilometres long and winds through the stunning Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve. It is ideal for families, groups and individuals wanting to experience the excitement of hiking without committing to an overnight stay or life without the little luxuries of hot water and cellphone reception.
Click below for a map of the Sacramento Trail
- RUN THE GRYSBOK TRAIL AT NMMU
You’re never too old to go back to university!! Actually, no, you’re a ballie, don’t do it. But you can make use of the nature reserve. Did you know that the NMMU campus was declared a Private Nature Reserve in 1983? Pretty cool right!? And with nature reserves, comes trails!
The Grysbok Trail was established in 1995 and meanders through the reserve, providing opportunities for observing the beautiful fauna and flora of the area.There are two trail options that can be walked, a 3.2 km or a 2.5 km loop. Both trails cover relatively flat terrain and are suitable for moderately fit people.
You are welcome to walk this trail privately, but please note that for safety purposes you need to sign the Visitors’ Book at the fence stile at the start of the trail. Trained guides are available to lead visitors on the trail, but need to be booked in advance. (http://grysbok.nmmu.ac.za/)