This fun walk through the coastal dunes at Buffalo Bay offers beautiful views of the ocean and coastline. The trail itself is only 2km, however to make a loop of it you will cover 4.5km.
Getting there: the turnoff on the N2 to Buffalo Bay is in the Goukamma Valley midway between Sedgefield and Knysna. Park in the parking lot at the main beach.
GPS Co-ordinates: -34.089697, 22.973309
Difficulty: this is an easy walk on an easy-to-follow trail
At a glance
As you approach Buffalo Bay you will see the Goukamma River to your right on its final approach to the ocean as you pass the Goukamma Nature Reserve. On the hill to your left is the Buffelskop Caravan Park, and to your right the Wild Side (what locals call this stretch of coastline). The actual Buffalo Bay Trail starts near the Buffelskop Caravan Park entrance across the road from the Wild Side parking lot, but we parked at the main beach parking lot to make a loop of it.
The trail follows a clockwise loop starting along the coast before heading through the dunes to reach the beach again. The trail is almost entirely sand bar the first section from the parking lot to the Wild Side beach and you could probably get by in sandals or even barefoot. The trail is well cleared, and to slow erosion of the dunes you are walking over, clever wood and wire “ladders” have been laid on the slopes.
There is no water on the trail and it can get pretty hot in the dunes. A section of the trail is shaded as it passes under milkwood trees, and there is a bench at one such shady spot. If you are anything other than Hobbit height and decide to run the trail, take care of the many branches overhanging the route.
There is a well-stocked mini supermarket and restaurant at the main beach with a wonderful deck overlooking the beach. Stock up on water before you go or treat yourself to an ice-cream upon your return.
From the parking lot, head back out and up the road that you drove in on, Walker Drive. As you reach the waterfront properties on the Wild Side, choose where you want to make your way down to the water’s edge; you can walk along the road or the beach, your decision will be influenced by the tide and how much sand is available for walking.
You will approach a parking lot at which point the beach stretches into the distance ahead of you in the Goukamma Marine Protected Area. Cross through the parking lot towards the road and you will see the sign at the trailhead. Head up the trail as it wends its way up the back of the dunes until you reach the dirt road at the top of the hill. Turn left towards the cellphone mast, and pass the mast on the left down the hill into the grove of milkwood trees.
The trail finally heads down the dune and spills onto the main beach a few hundred meters from the parking lot.