LifestyleSANparks Week

Come walk circles in the forest –it’s highly recommended!

Visit Circles in the Forest Trail in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park, where colourful fungi hide under branches, and small forest lifeforms peek from under the foliage.

There is a place where time can stand still as you walk deeper into a lush green forest over narrow trails, protected under a dense canopy of foliage. And, it’s open to everybody. The place is the Circles in the Forest Trail in the Wilderness Section (Goldfields) of the Garden Route National Park. You will not be alone if you fall in love. The trail (the 3.1km option) was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, an accolade awarded to accommodation, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers.

The hike (there is a three and nine kilometre option) starts from the famous Dalene Matthee Big Tree at the Krisjan-se- Nek picnic site. It follows small tracks and an old mining path along the bank of Forest Creek, set in high forest. Various forest types can be seen, but the wet high forest is particularly scenic. Take the time to really soak up your surroundings. Colourful fungi hide under branches, and small forest lifeforms peek from under the foliage. Goldfields section ranger Dominique du Toit says that they have gone to much effort to make the trail as special to visitors as possible. Trees are identified along the way, while the trail is well-signposted and the distance you have hiked is indicated as you go along. It’s an easy to moderate hike and there are opportunities to swim in forest pools. Huge forest ferns and frog-filled streams litter the way.

Circles in the Forest Heritage Route Old Foresters House and tea garden guest house (Small)

Now it’s also possible to explore this section of the forest on a Scootour. Originally from Switzerland, the first Scootour in South Africa was launched in the Drakensberg, says the Knysna branch owner Jaco Delport. “The product is really only an attraction to get people into the forest,” he says. “Usually tourists don’t want to get off the beaten track, and many that we’ve asked know about the forest, but they’ve never been.” As part of this activity, tourists are picked up in Knysna and then taken on a unique experience through the forest (the entire trip lasts about 2.5 hours).

Circles in the Forest Heritage Route Forest Legends Museum Ren+¬ de Klerk (Small)

The trip is both an educational experience with elements of the forest explained as you go along, and a special activity. “It’s not an extreme, adrenaline rush. Rather, it gives you the chance to experience the scenery that mountain bikers would, without needing the necessary fitness levels.”

Want to go?

Daily conservation fee (entry) until 31 October 2016 for the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park is R34 per adult and R17 per child for South African citizens and residents with a valid identify document. SADC Nationals (with passport) pay R68 per adult and R34 per child. Foreign visitors pay R112 per adult and R56 per child. Scootours cost R450 per person (for a solo ticket) and R195 for a child under 9 years old. For more information visit https://scootours.co.za/knysna-forest/

For enquiries, phone the Goudveld Forestry Station (part of the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park) on + 27-44-389-0252.

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