Hiking Routes in the Garden Route
KNYSNA TOP 5 WALKING/HIKING ROUTES
Jubilee Creek Forest Trail
The picnic site is situated on the banks of Millwood Creek, a cool forest stream lazily flowing through the area. This is an ideal day outing for the family, young and old. Take swim wear for the kids and a blanket to catch a nap on the grass. There is a beautiful pool at the end of the hike to swim in.
Distance: 3.6km, out-and-back.
R17 per person for adults.
R9 per person for children under the age of 13.
Permits obtainable from the Goudveld entrance gate at Bibby’s Hoek.
Goudveld Forestry Station – 044 389 0129
Thesen Island Office – 044 302 5600
Directions: From Knysna take the N2 towards George, 8km out take the Rheenendal turnoff to the right. Follow this road for 12.6km and take the Bibby’s Hoek / Millwood Gold Fields turnoff to the right (becomes gravel just after the turn). You will reach a four way crossing with a boom, sign in and pay here. Sometime out of season this boom is open and unmanned. Follow the Jubilee Creek directions to the Jubilee Creek picnic site, 10km.
Coordinates: S33 53.310 E22 58.005
Elephant Walk (3 Trails)
The White Elephant Trail has the most enticing rock pool where you can stop for a picnic and even have a dip in summer. But please be sensitive to the environment. The Black Elephant Trail pass through both the Ysterhoutrug and King Edward VII picnic sites and the Red Elephant Trail crosses a little stream exactly halfway ideal for a lunch stop.
If you feel really energetic you can link the routes into one long route of 18.2km which takes approximately 6-7 hours to walk. This includes rests, a slow pace and lots of time to look around.
Apart from just walking, give attention to the huge yellowwoods, the stinkwood trees that topple over and just keep on growing, the vast variety of fungi, the fynbos, vervet monkeys playing in the tree tops and if you are lucky you might even spot the elusive Knysna Loerie.
Elephant 1 (Black) 9km, easy, circular route, start at forestry sation.
Elephant 2 (White) 8km from forest station or 6.5km from Diepwalle picnic site, easy, circular route.
Elephant 3 (Red) 7km, moderate, circular route, start at forestry station.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
Route markers: These trails follow the Outeniqua Hiking Trail (white/yellow shoeprint) in places, Elephant Walks are marked with colored elephants on yellow plastic signs or on trees.
Permits & Cost: R19/person. Permits are obtainable from the Diepwalle Forestry Station. When the offices are closed issue yourself a self issue permit from the wooden box under the tree in front of the offices. Free for Wild Card members.
Contact numbers: Diepwalle Forestry Station – 044 382 9762/3
Directions: From Knysna take the N2 towards Plettenberg Bay. About 4km from Knysna take the R339 Uniondale turnoff to the left and follow this road for 15.5km, take the Diepwalle turnoff to the right. Continue for 1km and stop at Diepwalle Forestry Station.
Coordinates: S33 56.909 E23 09.434
The Terblans Walk is an easy and beautiful walk through the indigenous Knysna forest. It starts and ends at the Grootdraai picnic site, ideal for a picnic before or after the hike.
From the Grootdraai picnic site the trail heads in to the forest sharing the path with the Outeniqua overnight trail so be sure to keep right at the fork shortly after the start, follow the bush pig signs. The path meanders through the forest and crosses some small forest streams. A little further there is another junction with the Outeniqua trail, keep to the right here as well. The trail comes to a gravel service road, turn right, the trail continues on the other side just a short distance down the road. Shortly after the road crossing the is a cement dam in the stream were you can take a refreshing swim. The trail later crosses a service road for the second time. Along this section the trail skirts the forest along a blue gum tree plantation and later a pine plantation. The trail walks out onto a service road for the 3rd time, turn right here again, this is Kom-se-pad.
Distance: 6.5km, circular route.
Route markers: The route follows the Outeniqua Hiking Trail in places, Terblans route markers are yellow plastic signs with a bushpig on. There are quite a couple of forest slip-paths in this area, dont mistake them for the trail.
Permits/Costs: Self issue permit at the start.
Contact Numbers: Diepwalle Forestry Station – 044 382 9762/3
Directions: Head out of Knysna towards George, along the lagoon take the Old Cape Road turnoff to Gouna / Simola, follow this road past Simola. As the road becomes gravel take the Gouna turnoff to the left. Follow this road past the Gouna Forest Station to the Grootdraai Picnic site along Kom-se-pad. This picnic site can also be reached by taking the Kom-se-Pad turnof from the R339 near Diepwalle.
Coordinates: S33 56.716 E23 03.244
Buffalo/Brenton Beach Walk
This is a beautiful walk along the beach between Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay and offers beautiful photographic opportunities at sunset.
The walk can be commenced from either Brenton-on-Sea or Buffalo Bay, but to do the entire walk it is advised that you go at low tide, otherwise it might be difficult to pass between the fynbos and sea in some places.
Distance: 5.5km (one way).
Difficulty: Easy beach walk.
Caution: If you take the kids along for a swim, I would advise that they swim in the marked areas at Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay because there is a backwash in some areas along the beach.
Directions to Brenton-on-Sea: From Knysna take the N2 towards George, just as you cross the White Bridge turn right (Brenton-on-Sea, Belvidere).
Follow this road to the parking area at Benton-on-Sea.
Coordinates: S34 04.402 E23 01.205
Directions to Buffalo Bay: From Knysna take the N2 towards George, about 11km out take the Buffalo Bay turn-off to the left.
Follow this road for 10km and park at the Superette at Buffalo Bay.
Coordinates: S34 05.165 E22 58.423
Bushbuck trail (Featherbed Nature Reserve)
Featherbed Nature Reserve is a unique 150 ha private Nature Reserve, encompassing the whole of the Western Head of Knysna and one of South Africa’s unique Natural Heritage Sites. Featherbed is a pristine piece of paradise that is accessible by ferry only (the 4×4 vehicle belongs to the Reserve).
The Bushbuck Trail is a 2.2-kilometer guided walk, passing through Milkwood forests onto the steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves and along a scenic coastal path fringed with aromatic fynbos (shrub of the Western Cape of South Africa). It was a very enjoyable experience and I would highly recommend it to all.
Trail type: Dirt and boardwalk
Parking: Not Listed
Trail allowances or restrictions: Not listed
Coordinates: S 34° 05.022 E 023° 03.304
34H E 689610 N 6226657
HESSEQUA TOP 5 FIVES
Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail: 14 km day trial
This trail covers a distance of 14 km from the old Toll House to the crest of Sleeping Beauty and back. It is an relatively easy walk (depending on your level of fitness you can reach the top in 3 -4 hours) and numerous streams are crossed. An abundance of bird life can be seen while wandering leisurely through the Fynbos. Water bottles are re-filled where the trail meets the Yellowwood forest at the top of the ravine. From the forest the trail winds its way to the top behind the Sleeping Beauty mountain peak. The last stretch is a steep 1.5 km to the crest, from where you will have the most magnificent panoramic view of the Langeberg Mountain Range.
Protea species encountered on the Sleeping Beauty mountain trail are speciosa, grandiceps and coronata. The large variety of Erica makes this route a paradise for the Erica enthusiast. The Erica blennagrandiflora, unique to the Riversdale area and also known as the Riversdale Orange Heath, as also, the Erica inclas and Erica papyraracea, are three of the rarest heath species found.
028 713 2366
Geelkrans Hiking Trail: 8 km Day Trial
This easy trail through Geelkrans Nature Reserve is a great option for a morning in Stilbaai, the circular route stretches for 8 km and will take you 3 hours to complete. The first 4 km takes you through indigenous dune fynbos and renosterveld, and it’s a real treat to see all the different plant species and the flowers depending on which time of the year you walk. When you reach the coast you’ll see why it’s called ‘Geelkrans’ as you marvel at the yellow sand cliffs that extend above the high water mark. The remaining 4 km you walk along the coast back to the starting point. Keep an eye on the tides as this is much better during low tide as you’ll be able to explore a lot more of the beach. There are opportunities to go snorkelling and swimming so take your gear along if you want. Pack water, snacks, sunscreen and wear a hat – even when it’s overcast!
028 713 2366
Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve
Bushbuck (10 km) & Grysbok (15 km) day trails
ncompasses 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langeberg region, close to Heidelberg. The name translates to “big father” in honour of Roelof Oelofse who owned the land in 1723. It has only been a reserve since 1986 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004.
028 72 2412
Gouritsmond Commange Hiking Trails
Easy walks from 1.6 to 8 km
here is a choice between 4 trails of various lengths, the black, blue, red and green trails. These trails have been designed in such a way that the hiker is introduced to the various vegetation types found on the commonage namely, Saltmarsh, Coastal Strandveld, Dune Thicket, Transitional Fynbos and Protea Fynbos. Pick up a map at Koffie Stories and look out for the hiking sign boards where you can park to start the trail. Distances range from 1.6 km to 8 km.
082 453 6332
Witsand Whale Hike
10 km day trial. Only from June to November.
Join the team from PiliPili Adventure Centre for a unique whale hike experience that only runs from June to November each year to accommodate whale season. Lisa will take you on a stand up paddle tour across the mouth of the famous Breede River where you’ll leave your boards and hike a short 5km to the lookout point at Infanta. Incredible land-based viewing with Southern Right Whales right below you, who come into the bay annually to feed and calve! Experience first hand why Witsand is known as the whale nursery of South Africa. The fynbos you will encounter on your hike is also worth mentioning, and incredibly spectacular during the months of August and September.
The trip takes about 4 hours with refreshments provided as well as a light brunch upon return.
076 878 8607
MOSSEL BAY TOP FIVES
Cape St. Blaize Hiking Trails
The St. Blaize Trail is a popular 13.5 km (6 hour) hike that follows the 30 metre contour along the cliffs. It begins at the Cape St. Blaize Cave and ends at Dana Bay (you can walk it in either direction).
044 691 2202
This coastal slack packing guided hiking trail starts at the Cape St. Blaize Cave and ends with a small boat trip across the Gouritz River.
044 699 1204
Mossel Bay Historical Walk on foot
Discover the historical buildings and facts in the Old Quarter of Mossel Bay. Some of the buildings that can be seen on the walk includes: churches, homes, municipal and commercial buildings.
044 691 2202
The trail offers a variety of “fynbos”, mammals and birds. It is a paradise for ornithologist, but you will also find other mammals living in their natural surroundings.
044 695 3175
Colour-coded and sign posted trails at Eight Bells Inn. Some sections are suitable for jogging.
044 631 0000
OUDSTHOORN HIKING TRAILS
The best times for hiking the Swartberg trails are April / May and September / October with options ranging from easy day hikes to a fairly demanding 4 day route, leading hikers past rock formations, incredible views and unspoilt fynbos. This trail has 3 alternative starting points with overnight huts at Ou Tol and Bothashoek.
- Two short hikes (7.4km & 8.4km, both about 2½ hours)
- 25km / 2 days;
- 46km / 4days;
- persons: min 3, max 12
For more information:
Swartberg Reserve Office
044 203 6300
90km from Oudtshoorn, 60 km from Prince Albert is only accessible from the Swartberg Pass via the Otto Du Plessis Road. This road is not accessible by caravan, there are no shops and fuel stations along the way and visitors need to bring sufficient food for the duration of their stay. Accommodation in restored cottages, camping sites or bush camp. Visitors can enjoy picnicking and angling and walk the 6km (3 hrs) interpretation trail. No quad bikes are allowed and motorcycles only with prior permission.
- various accommodation options
For more information:
Swartberg Reserve Office
044 203 6300
There is a sense of space, detachment and wildness about Gamkaberg and the neighbouring Rooiberg. Some visitors explore the Tierkloof ravine, others do the multi-day hike to Oukraal. Three lodges with sheltered safari-style tents, a braai lapa/kitchen, ablutions and cement dams in which to cool off are available. The converted stables and adjoining camp site can accommodate 12 people.
- Various options in nature reserve
- 20 minutes to 6 hours
- picnic facilities
For more information:
Gamkaberg Reserve Office
044 213 3367
Oukraal Hiking Trail
Starting in the succulent karoo, this is a moderately strenuous trail taking hikers through a deep forested ravine to a fynbos-covered mountain plateau. Here they overnight at Oukraal camp and enjoy spectacular views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges.
- 24km/2 day
- in Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
- Shelter huts on trail
- 12 persons max
For more information:
Gamkaberg Reserve Office
044 213 3367
Minwater Hiking Trails
Minwater (meaning “Little Water”) is a private nature reserve and is situated 24km southwest of Oudtshoorn in the foothills of the Gamkaberg in the Klein Karoo. It is a rough mountainous region containing hills and a large plateau with breathtaking views of the eastern Klein Karoo and surrounding mountain ranges. Owner, Louis Jordaan, possesses a wealth of knowledge of the more than 500 different plant species that bloom on Minwater.
- Hiking from 1 km to 20 km
- guided plant and birding tours
- rustic, well-shaded camp site.
+27 (0)44 279 1285
The Robberg Half (type: fynbos peninsula)
From the safe parking area on Robberg itself, you take the left path. Enjoy the views over Robberg Beach as you walk to The Gap. Then keep going on the left side. The path gets steeper until you pop out on top. Then it’s a gentle meander through fynbos until you get to Witsand, a huge sand dune. You could choose to go straight here, to The Point, but I prefer to turn right & go down to the beach. The tradition is to run the last bit. And scream. Then swim. Or walk round The Island first. Then swim. Turn your back to The Island & complete the half-circuit of Robberg, ending back at your car. It should take you 1 – 2 hours.
- Wear closed shoes (there are ants) & take water.
The Salt River Trail, Natures Valley (coastal forest)
From the shop at Natures Valley, walk onto the beach & turn right. You’ll find a path over the rocks, which is not for the faint-hearted, be careful. There’s also been a small landslip but it seems stable & well walked. The path climbs from the pebble beach into the coastal forest & then down to Salt River Mouth, where you can swim. The path then goes uphill through the forest for quite a way before you turn left to the Lookout Point & then back down to Natures Valley. It should take you 1 – 2 hours.
- Only go at low tide. Ask at the shop if you’re unsure.
The Kranshoek Trail, Harkerville
To get to the start of this trail you need to drive through the Harkerville forest to the picnic site. Leave nothing visible in your car. Cross the little river above the waterfall & follow the path down to the sea, enjoying the views as you go. The forest ends where the rocky beach begins – go left. There are two paths back up the cliff: the shorter, steeper fishermen’s path which you’ll see first, or the longer route further down the beach. Footprints mark the trail. It should take you 2 hours or 4 -5 hours depending on the route you choose.
- Wear good shoes as the beach is rocky. Take water.
The Garden of Eden Mini-Hike
This is a perfect family hike if you have littlies or oldies, or if you’re pushing a pram or a wheelchair. The boardwalk winds through lovely indigenous forest & ferns, crosses the river several times & has bench-&-table areas to stop off at along the way. The mossy trunks make good places for children (& fairies) to hide. Bring an umbrella & walk here in the rain. The boardwalk saves you from the mud & the trees keep the worst of the wet away. It will only take you 20 – 30 mins.
- The boardwalk can be slippery when wet.
The Dolphin Trail is set in the magnificent Tsitsikamma forest and coast, this area is well known for the strenuous Otter Trail. The Dolphin Trail allows you two magical days were you can hike with NO heavy backpacks and spend three nights in comfort at different accommodation venues!
Tsitsikamma National Park and two private sector partners, namely Forrest Ferns and Misty Mountain Reserve joined forces to provide a hiking experience that will not only challenge, but pamper you.
The total distance covered will be 17km, starting at the Tsitsikamma National Park, Storms River Mouth. Winding your way eastwards through the natural fynbos and indigenous forest, over rugged rocks at the waters edge and ending on the banks of the Sandrift River, at The Fernery.