Fiona McIntosh asked Garden Route Walking Festival founder, Galeo Saintz to identify the 7 walks that you simply shouldn’t miss at the 2018 festival.
“With over 52 walks on our programme, I find it almost impossible to suggest only 7 must-do walks – but these are sure to get everyone’s interest. The 2018 festival is designed to ensure there is really something for everyone keen on exploring the Garden Route on foot and discovering something new over the Easter Weekend.”
From beaches to forests, from high peaks to wildlife, from kid’s walks to walks with specialist guides, it’s all there. The walks listed below give you a taste of some highlights of the Garden Route Walking Festival, but many of the trails are open to anyone journeying to the Garden Route for a self-guided walking holiday.”
Inner Space Yoga Walk
What is a festival without a celebration? The unusual walks on offer during the festival have everything from yoga in nature to guided meditation walks. There is even a walking ‘kaalgat’ through the woods option for budding naturists.
On The Inner Space Yoga walk, you’ll follow the shady Harkerville Perdekop trail through the indigenous forest, carrying out some cardio, breathing and balancing exercises as you go and stopping along the way for a Hatha yoga flow class and silent meditation.
The Moonlight Meander
The Moonlight Meander along Swartvlei beach is one of the most popular walks of the festival. It books out quickly so sign up now if you’re interested. A night-time walk held over the new moon, it focuses on the survival, feeding and reproductive strategies of the organisms living in the rock pools and beach. Led by local fundi Judy Dixon, this is an unusual journey of discovery that is guaranteed to enthral.
Knysna Indigenous Forest Walks
Who can visit Knysna and not experience the magic and myths of the Knysna Elephants? There are multiple walk options to choose from on this theme, most of which are easy so suitable all nature lovers and history buffs, including unfit walkers and kids. On the guided 3km and 9km Knysna Indigenous Forest Walks you’re likely to hear the sounds and enjoy sightings of forest birds like the Knysna Turacao, be introduced to the different ferns and fungi, and if you’re lucky, spy, or at least find the spoor of forest mammals such as bushbuck, bushpig and even the Knysna Elephant. Author Gareth Patterson’s four-hour “Secret Elephants Forest Experience” offers a deeper, more intimate insight into the life of these elusive forest giants.
Rastafarian Vibe Walk
Visitors to the festival have various opportunities to explore the modern-day culture of the Garden Route. The Rastafarian Vibe Walk, led by brother Zebelon of Khayalethu, is an entertaining window on customs and history of the Knysna Rastafarian community. Local food gardens are also a great way to explore the lesser-known communities of the region: the educational and inspiring Tsitsi-Tunier Kurlands Community Garden Walk is not to be missed.
Guided Game Walk at Giraffe View Safari Camp
While it’s the elephants that every visitor to the Knysna Forest dreams of seeing, there are plenty of other opportunities to encounter big game on the Garden Route. You guessed it, giraffe, along with zebra, wildebeest, bontebok, bushbuck and other antelope are regularly spied on this guided 8km walk through the hills and valleys of Giraffe View Safari Camp. And the views are pretty impressive too!
Island Bird Walk
While you’ll encounter forest or/and coastal birds on most of the walks, anyone wanting to learn more about our feathered friends should sign up for a birding walk led by a specialist bird guide. The easy Island Bird Walk at Groot Brak is a wonderful, family-friendly introduction to the diverse birdlife of the area.
Plett Botanical Walk
This easy, guided walk, led by a fynbos fundi, takes place on a farm in the Crags where alien invasive plants have been eradicated and fynbos lovingly restored. Learn about the magic of the Cape’s Floral Kingdom and the research being undertaken into pollination.