SANParks Times just happens to be one of our sister publications. We also love the work they do. In this series, Know your National Parks, we employ their vast expertise to give you a quick summary of our SANParks gems.
Along the south coast of South Africa lies one of the most beautiful stretches of land, the Garden Route National Park. From pristine beaches to mountains, forests, fynbos and lakes, it forms a mosaic of ecosystems, a place to find rest for the soul and create everlasting memories.
This park consists of three sections. The Tsitsikamma section is situated 68km from Plettenberg Bay with two rest camps, the Storms River and Nature’s Valley Rest Camps. Tsitsikamma means “place of much water” and is true to its name with its deep river gorges leading out to the sea. It incorporates 80km of rocky coastline, one of the world’s largest ‘no take’ Marine Protected Areas, the first ever to be proclaimed in Africa. The famous suspension bridges are also found in this section of the park.
The Knysna lakes section is situated in the quaint town of Knysna and is famous for the forest with its magical beauty and giant Outeniqua yellowwoods. Many of writer Dalene Matthee’s novels play off in the heart of the forest. If you have an interest in cultural heritage and history, visit one of the museums to learn about times gone by when the famous forest elephant, woodutters and gold digger frequented the area.
The Wilderness section, 15km from George, is known for lakes, rivers, estuaries and beaches which unfold against the backdrop of lush forest and large mountains. Here you will find Eilandvlei, Langvlei and Rondevlei, a series of lakes connected to the Touw River. They host a variety of bird and aquatic species and are Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance).
The park is a hiker’s paradise with a number of trails getting you closer to the breathtaking scenery. It includes the world famous Otter hiking trail, but there are many other options to choose from for people with varying fitness levels. Cycling enthusiasts can embark on a number of trails and explore the beauty of the forest this way.
Some large trees were spared from the woodcutters. A number of these Big Trees can still be visited. Bird lovers will not be disappointed as these ecosystems attract a large number of different species including the colourful Narina Trogon and the Knysna Turaco.
All the sections have a variety of accommodation options to choose from ranging from forest huts to wooden cabins and even camping. The busiest rest camp is Storms River in Tsitsikamma.
More info on Garden Route NP website
Words René de Klerk. Pictures Rene de Klerk and Petro Kotzé
Story courtesy of SANParks Times. Subscribe online.