Hiking to the Lower Van Stadens Dam outside Port Elizabeth

The history of Port Elizabeth's water supply starts way back when Frames Reservoir was built on the Shark River in present-day Happy Valley back in 1864. As the demand for water increased, the need for a bigger dam was identified and the Van Stadens Water Scheme was initiated. I'm always amazed how people say there is nothing to do in Port Elizabeth and how everything is too expensive. Did you know that you can take a short hike to see…

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Van Stadens Narrow Gauge Bridge

A couple of weeks ago we walked to the Lower Van Stadens Dam and got a side view of the narrow-gauge bridge over the gorge from the northern side. The Van Stadens rail bridge is the second highest railway bridge in South Africa and the highest narrow-gauge bridge in the world. Construction on the bridge was completed in 1905 and the bridge is 156m long, 77m high and contains 1 112 cubic meters of concrete and 574 tons of steel.This…

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The Van Staden’s River gorge road bridges

Van Standen's Groge with the arch bridge crossing it The Van Staden's River west of Port Elizabeth is the boundary of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and a major landmark in the area. Most people cross the gorge on the N2 in a couple of seconds using the arch bridge while others take their time and drive through the old pass. But where does the name Van Staden's come from and when were the different bridges built? The arch bridge,…

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Under Van Stadens bridge

It's a weird feeling standing under the Van Stadens bridge. It's not an angle many see it from and you get a much better idea of the size and magnitude of the bridge when you are underneath it. Then add the "kadoef kadoef" as the cars and trucks pass overhead. Definitely a weird feeling. It's an easy walk to get below the bridge from the bridge lookout picnic spot so you don't have to do one of the longer trails…

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The Van Stadens Bridge

Last Saturday we went for a walk at the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve and followed the River Walk up to the point where you walk under the Van Stadens Bridge. It truly is a sight from below, but I think I'll keep that photo for a second post. The bridge was completed on 12 October 1971 and stretches 198m across the gorge and is 125m at its highest point. The bridge was designed by Italian engineers and the two halves of…

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Protea raindrops in Van Stadens

On Sunday we decided to swing by the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve west of Port Elizabeth. The reserve really is one of my favorite nature reserves around the city, but it's also home to a huge amount of Geocaches, some that was still awaiting me to turn them into smileys on my map. There was a drizzle falling all morning so jumping in and out of the car at every cache meant that I was soaked after a while. It…

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Pincushion Proteas at Van Stadens

One of the protea species that you see quite often in the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve is the Pincushion Protea. Pincushion Proteas normally have lots of flowers on each plant with the flower heads lasting for quite some time. You get them in yellows, oranges and reds and always make for the most beautiful photographs.  

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The Van Stadens Bridges

The Van Stadens River is about 35km west of Port Elizabeth and you can either go over or through it to get to the other side. The river and original pass was named after one of the area’s pioneer farmers, Marthinus van Staden, who was the first person to plot a basic route through the Van Stadens River Gorge in the 1850’s.  In 1867 Thomas Bain was brought in by the Cape Government to rebuild the pass so that ox wagon traffic could…

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Van Stadens bird hide

Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve's bird hide The 600 ha Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve is located about 35km west of Port Elizabeth. The reserve stretches from the Van Stadens mountain to the coast and its main purpose is to protect the area's unique indigenous Fynbos vegetation. It's always worth popping into the reserve because there's always some type of protea in bloom. But Van Stadens isn't just about vegetation and views of the Van Stadens gorge, it also boasts a birding…

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